I complained before that Rayman Origins was “too difficult to complete“. Recently I’ve had the pleasure of playing through platformer Rogue Legacy, and it’s a game where the inverse is absolutely true – it’s a game of challenging difficulty that just keeps you coming back!
The game’s title is extremely apt. Rogue Legacy is a rogue-like platformer in which the arenas you play in are randomly generated each time a new game is started, but instead of death being the end of the game, the player picks up as one of the descendants of the previous character. It’s a quirky but innovative twist with hilarious results. Each descendent can be of a certain class that steers toward certain play styles – the Knight being a good all-round bruiser apt at soaking up damage whereas the Mage is more of a glass cannon – and have traits that vary from purely visual (Nostalgic puts the game in sepia) to game-changing (Vertigo inverts the playfield). The random nature of the permutations of classes and traits adds a lot to the game’s replayability and appeal.
The story of the game is lightweight, though a game like this needs nothing but a cursory narrative. Each stage in the game ramps up the difficulty considerably, with new enemies to develop tactics for and evolved versions of previously-encountered foes. The game is linear in the sense that the stages are clearly defined in terms of which you’re supposed to progress to but there’s a refreshing element of exploration, tied in large part to the random arrangement of rooms, that empowers the player to be a little foolhardy and explore these new and dangerous areas.
Certainly, there’s incentive to keep diving in to try to do a little better each time; the player can elect to permanently unlock new abilities, upgraded classes and find equipment and spells with which to further augment the character. There’s a definite sense of progression – unlocking a new piece of armour or spell, or getting enough gold to upgrade one’s critical damage – that keeps the player not only striving to unlock these abilities but also to carry on to another play through where they can experiment with them. It’s a game where the player will find themselves grinding away at enemies to both improve their abilities and tactics and also farm enough gold to play with new toys but rare in the sense of being a game where grinding through levels is part of the fun, and not an accepted chore.
I found Rogue Legacy’s pseudo-8-bit aesthetic to be charming and a really authentic throwback to the retro era it aims to emulate, with a certain Castlevania feel with a modern twist. The game is colourful but also atmospheric and with personality. It’s slightly cartoony and whimsical but with enough detail and variation to keep interest. Some of the more visual character traits play with the aesthetic too, adding to the game’s innate charm.
Another key part of the game’s appeal is its excellent score – again harking back to the glory days of 2D platformers but with enough personality and tunefulness to stick in the player’s head. It’s an accomplished soundtrack that really personifies the “feel” of the game and I, for one, really loved it.
One thing I’d have liked to see, and maybe will in a sequel, is some form of co-operative or combative multiplayer; the former especially with a game like this. But overall I was thoroughly impressed with Rogue Legacy and I’ll be keeping an eye on the developer’s further titles and for more games like this. I’ve rediscovered a love for platform games of Rogue Legacy‘s ilk and Rogue Legacy is only the first barrage against the itch!
Buy Rogue Legacy on Steam here; also available on GOG and other good online storefronts, as well as PS4/Vita.