Rogue Legacy Review: A Legacy to Die For (PC) - o_JMan240_o Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Rogue Legacy Review: A Legacy to Die For (PC)

Rogue Legacy hates you. It hates what you look like, how you act, every amazing thing you try to do and, most importantly, it hates your family. Though despite the nefarious castle doing all it can to grind you and your lineage into a bloody pulp, it’s hard to be mad at Rogue Legacy. Sure, it took the lives of more than 100 of your ancestors, but you had so much fun while it did so. Besides, that guy with vertigo was pretty useless. It’s probably not a bad thing he decided to head in there.

Rarely does a game mix as many genres as Rogue Legacy with as much success. Even more impressive is that Rogue Legacy finds that success in a combination of genres which notoriously require extreme levels of precision in their design. Equal parts Roguelike, loot grinding RPG, and Metriodvania action platformer, Rogue Legacy is a frankensteinian amalgamation of games stitched together into a living, breathing, slightly scary but still glorious creation.

As with Roguelikes, Rogue Legacy isn’t afraid to punch you in the teeth. It’s more than happy to make the first room in your castle a maddeningly difficult to traverse pit of spikes or drop you into one that is nearly impossible to get out of. For every controller throwing moment, however, there is a reward. That reward might be something as awesome as a new sword or as simple as a health drop, but it’s always just enough. Even death is a reward, warping you back outside of the castle to spend your gold and pick a newly randomized, absurdly enthusiastic child to throw at the walls of the castle.

Weapons, armor and skills pass from the hands of one ill fated hero to the next until something better is found or a situation calls for a change. The loot grinding elements of the game factor heavily into these areas, which all require gold to unlock, but never take center stage. Just the idea of grinding might scare some people away, but Rogue Legacy presents it in the best way possible. Runs are short, with my longest lasting no more fifteen or twenty minutes. Clearing a room of enemies with skill and speed is exhilarating and watching gold fly all over the place as you break things is oddly satisfying. Finding even a single blueprint or rune makes any run feel worthwhile, even if you stunk it up to the point that you can’t actually purchase that item. A wealth of randomized elements keep things fresh and dumping gold into upgrades at the start of a new round makes you want to jump right back in.

Bosses loom over each of the four sections of the castle, and every trip through the gate sees the player passing a door that lights as the big baddies are sent to their graves. The door serves as a constant reminder of the ultimate goal, one decidedly less entertaining than just the simple act of moving from room to room. In a game where everything else is shifting, these pillars of progression are noticeably static and unbefitting of a title that otherwise twists every traditional element it implements.

If you’ve battled an old-school boss that requires you to remember patterns and navigate your way around a screen full of projectiles, then you’ve battled all of Rogue Legacy’s bosses. The final boss is an especially egregious example of difficulty for the sake of encouraging continued play. Aside from having more in common with a Bullet Hell shooter than the game it’s a part of, the boss attacks exclusively with spells that - when the screen inevitably pauses for the latest victim’s death throes - don’t appear to have hit you in many cases. Since no trip is required to get to the giant golden door, and the game takes all or most of your gold before entering the castle, it makes going past it to grind for upgrades a drag. It’s a shame the game had to conclude with a boss that breaks almost everything it does right, from pacing to gameplay.

In the end it, ironically, all seemed in service of forcing you to play more of the fun part of the game until you reached a level that could compensate for the unfair attacks being flung your way. Were it not for a drunken night of play, during which I completely forgot the bosses existed and spent a couple hours blissfully power leveling my legacy, I probably would have come away much more frustrated than I was. Fortunately, there’s an inherent adaptiveness to the game’s difficulty that means, even with its near rage inducing spikes, most players should be able to finish it without having to go out of their way to hone any skills.

Whatever minor annoyance the bosses present as part of the gameplay is overpowered by an eclectic quirkiness present in the game’s world. The seven classes of characters are accompanied by an array of funny traits and reference things like Naruto or Spelunky. Each is unique enough that it warrants at least one use, even if its as mind numbingly dumb and near impossible to play with as vertigo. A surprisingly well written but sparse story is told through journals scattered about the castle. Entries in the brief narrative range from the best sort of introspective and self referential silliness to decently thought provoking examinations of what it means to leave behind a legacy. I’ll stop short of spoiling any specifics though, as everything in this game is something that should be experienced firsthand.

When all was said and done, I had spent roughly 18 hours with Rogue Legacy - slightly longer than average from what I can tell - and sent 162 members of my adorable, pixelated extended family to early graves over the course of almost 4000 years of game time. Even after all that I still found myself another three runs into a “new game plus” before I was able to pull myself away. It’s just that good.

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