There has been a load of new dungeon based games recently, each with their own take on searching castles and dank caves for loot. Rogue Legacy takes much of its inspiration from the castle based Castlevania games and uses this as a template to build another randomly generating and highly difficult game of exploration, loot and beasties.
Right from the start it’s clear that Rogue Legacy has much more going on than many of the other Rogue-like games of recent times. You start off with your hero entering a castle from a 2D, side on perspective and then proceed to hunt around for treasure and the boss monsters that guard each area. When you die your offspring must then take up the reigns and continue the search.
The continual line of offspring randomly generate into a number of predetermined classes. There are mages, paladins, thieves and others which can then be expanded out into more specialist explorers such as the shinobi and miner. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses and different weapons and traits that it uses. For instance – the shinobi deals high damage but can’t create a critical hit, while the paladin is a good all-rounder and has the use of a shield.
You get to pick from three randomly created characters at the start of each adventure and these can be in any of the classes you have unlocked so far. Each individual then also has traits which give them their own strengths and weaknesses. There are a massive amount of different traits and these range from things like Gigantism (makes your character bigger), to dyslexia (can’t read signs) and things such as having an affinity with magic or boosting your speed. There’s no real way to know what you’re going to get so you need to adjust your play style accordingly.
Everything in terms of unlocking or levelling is done with the gold you find around the castle. This can be used to up your stats, buy new equipment or unlock the specialist classes. Upon your death any money or equipment you have is passed onto your next character to use and spend. The kicker is that any money left over after upgrading then needs to be given to the gate guard in order to be let back in. This can create a cycle of not getting very far as you don’t quite find enough to upgrade while being out matched by the difficulty.
Rogue Legacy is certainly not here to treat players with kid gloves. It takes a good few hours to get to grips with and to actually feel like you making progress. As gold is the only way to level up you will often find you need to very cautiously go on expeditions just to gather enough of the stuff to get you to the next piece of equipment or upgrade and this can be time consuming.
Though the castle is randomly generated you can use the architect to lock it down. For the price of a percentage of your gold this keeps the room layout the same and allows you to use the teleport squares you may have found to get you right back into the action. The main benefit of this is when you discover a boss. Bosses are fierce and difficult and will require a number of goes to get the better of. If you decide you character is strong enough then getting the castle locked down allows for repeated characters to simply teleport right to them for another go. Once a boss is downed they stay dead for good and once the initial four bosses are defeated this allows access to the final area of the castle.
It’s fair to say this isn’t going to be a game for everyone. It very tough, especially at the beginning and you will need to sink a load of time into it to get you to a point where you feel safe to explore properly. The fact the rooms move around all the time makes it seem a slightly odd decision to base it on the Castelvania template and it can be very frustrating to realise you’ve just wandered into the castle without locking it down, especially if you were heading off to fight one of the bosses. That said, it does carry the same sort of risk reward scenario as games like Dark Souls and every victory feels that much sweeter when you’ve been trying to take the monster down for hours. Once you level up a bit and get used to the game it really does start to get going and you’ll be continually drawn back for more. However, many gamers might not make it that far and that’s a shame as this is probably one of the more inventive indie style games to come out recently.
Approach it patiently and with the knowledge that you are going to die and it offers an experience not really offered elsewhere. It’s a must for fans of the genre but the more casual gamer should probably get their kicks with something a little easier to handle, much like Dark Souls or other Rogue-likes like Spelunky.