DEATH IS ONLY THE BEGINNING
Death is a common occurrence in Rogue Legacy. Between the title screen and the game over screen you will lose your cool; however, it’s in these moments of frustration where the triumph will compel you to continue playing, even after your 400th death. Rogue Legacy is challenging, but it becomes an addictive, challenging platformer.
Rogue Legacy is a mixture of Castlevania, Metroid, and Dark Souls. Don’t be mistaken by its cute appearance, Rogue Legacy is hard–very hard. It’s entirely possible to die in the first real room in the game. When you die you are sent back to the title screen where you are tasked with picking one of the hero’s children to complete the quest. When you do die, you get to choose from three different heirs. Each child will have their own classes and, more interestingly, genetic abilities. One child might have vertigo and it will flip the entire screen upside down, or another will be nostalgic which will give a brown look like in old photos from the west. While the children’s genetic makeup is completely random, you will get the choice to pick which set you like best. Some may help you or some will hinder you.
Rogue Legacy has a 2D sidescrolling look and feel which stays consistent throughout each section. The castle is broken into 4 sections and they each have a different feel than the last. Every time you die, you will return to the first section. To make matters worse for your journey, the levels are randomly generated, changing up each and every time you die. After a while, you tend to see the same layout patterns, but the traps and enemy placements will always be different. Because of this, the game is never repetitive.
However, unlike The Binding of Isaac or other rogue-like titles, there is a modicum of continuity. Any gold you happen to get before you die will pass down to your child, allowing you to level up. The money can be spent on upgrading your stats buying new gear, unlocking new classes, and much more — what’s even better is that these upgrades will pass on from generation to generation. The gold, however, will not. You must pay your way into the castle and it will take every gold you don’t spend. No matter how much health, upgrades, or gear you have, Rogue Legacy will not be easy. The game will take you down if you are not careful. While the difficulty never feels fair, it actually is. There can be times where you die for no reason, but that is because you didn’t see a telling sign if something is an enemy or not. There is this one move where you can dash back as you swing your sword, so instead of hitting an enemy that is right behind you, you end up bumping into that enemy instead. After a while, you won’t mind the difficulty because it becomes second nature. The bosses and some of the challenges will bring the games most frustrating moments, but it becomes endearing. While none of the upgrades alone will give you a significant advantage, after a while they begin stacking up allowing you to defeat your toughest foes.
If there is one weakness for Rogue Legacy, it’s the story. The story is told through journals found through the shifting layout of the castle that help explain the family’s quest. On the surface, the story is interesting and it does have a good twist, but as a whole, Rogue Legacy really didn’t need a story to be enjoyable.
One small pet peeve is that you are are going to hear the same theme music for the castle repeatedly, wouldn’t be so bad if the main theme didn’t sound so busy. The good news about that is that the rest of the soundtrack can be great at times and doesn’t overstay its welcome.
It is possible to complete Rogue Legacy in under an hour, but to truly appreciate what this game has to offer, it will take many hours to complete. It took me 25 hours to complete the game and I haven’t even found all of the runes, upgrades, gear, blueprints, bonus bosses, and power-ups available to discovery. For $16.99 on the PlayStation Store, you are getting your monies worth.
The Vita Difference:
Not only does the game have tremendous replay value, but it is also cross-buy and cross-save; buying it on one PlayStation console will allow you to play it on the rest. That said, Rogue Legacy feels right at home on the Vita. Like other popular “rogue-likes” (Spelunky), Rogue Legacy’s quick-death nature is perfect for the short-burst game sessions that Vita owners are accustomed too. While the game feels right at home on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3, the experience may be best on the PlayStation Vita. — (Lou Contaldi, Executive Editor)
The Verdict: 8.0 out of 10
Rogue Legacy is not for the weak of heart and spirit. The repetitive nature is saved by its constant changing of the castle, hilarious genetic abilities, and addictive “one more game” compulsion. If you stick with it, you’ll find one of the most gratifying games to come out this year. Seriously, it’s hard, but great.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.
Jesse Webster is a Senior Writer at MONG and this is my first review for MONG. You can find him on Twitter.