Rogue Legacy Review
+ Unique resource management system
+ Genuinely funny
+ Near endless replayability
As I died for the 50th time having only barely entered the first room of the castle, I stopped to ask myself why I was having so much fun throughout hours of constant failure. Why there was nothing I’d rather do than to click the ‘retry’ button on the main menu. Why ‘Rogue Legacy’ allowed me to feel true progress and achievement even though upon entering their expertly crafted torture chamber - a swift death was always inevitable. The answer is simple: ‘Rogue Legacy’ is brilliant. It manages to recreate the feeling of many an old school dungeon crawler, yet with subtle tweaks to the long standing formula that allow ‘Rogue Legacy’ to innovate and hold its own when compared with some much more complex RPGs of recent years. The game begins by thrusting you into a castle as you fight monsters and get to grips with the games mechanics, before you are brutally murdered. In my case by a painting on a wall - of course, it was my mistake to assume that anything in ‘Rogue Legacy’ is as it seems. From the game over screen I am taken to a portrait of my fallen Knight hanging on a wall and it is from here that the genius of ‘Rogue Legacy’ becomes apparent.
‘Rogue Legacy’ introduces you to their ‘Heirs’ mechanic. This means that when you perish at the hand of one the castle’s many ghouls and zombies, it is your heir that continues your quest. Each time death occurs, you are presented with 3 possible heirs you can choose from, each with a unique class governing their health and magic stats. Mage, Knight, Knave, Barbarian and lots more to unlock. Along with their class, heirs will have certain unique traits that may help or hinder your progress. For example, if your heir happens to be a dwarf, then you can fit in small places others cannot. However, if you are ‘nostalgic’ then for the time spent controlling that heir, the whole game has a Sepia colour filter. These traits can range from the relatively mundane to the weird and wonderful - assuring that each attempt at defeating the castle’s many foes is unique. All of the gold looted during your previous life can be spent by your heir, either to buy weapons or equipment to further your monster slaying exploits, or to upgrade the family castle, allowing access to new class types, health and armour upgrades and new abilities - such as locking down the layout of the castle should you find a simple route or wish to farm a certain room of enemies to level up your Knight.
Replayablity, it seems, is where ‘Rogue Legacy’ stands out. The ever changing layout of the castle means that frustration rarely becomes an issue and during my time with the game, I did not see any repetition of the castle layout. The sheer variety here is astounding. There is also a decent amount of enemy variety with each different monster sporting a unique look and attack set, forcing you to learn movement and attack patterns and plan your approach accordingly. The game is also full of small mini games and Easter-eggs to help your endless chain of brutal deaths seem less hopeless, however these appear quite often and never really change in format - so become stale over time.
The story within ‘Rogue Legacy’ is serviceable, but certainly takes a back seat to the game play. There is an intriguing plot told through journals that are scattered throughout the castle but these only serve as a small reward and don’t really do much more than provide a small distraction from your impending doom. The graphics, although by no means cutting edge, are bright and colourful and the art style lends itself well to the old school nature of the game. The game by no means pushes the limits of the PS4, but everything looks crisp and detailed - offering a characterized yet detailed visual style. Sound design is once again in the vain of older dungeon crawling titles. No voice acting is present and a quirky 8 bit soundtrack accompanies you an your quest; the music is perfect for the game and you may even find a jukebox on your travels that allows you to change the song you are listening to if you grow tired of a certain song.
‘Rogue Legacy’ challenges you to defeat 5 bosses in 5 zones to complete your quest. In my 15+ hours with the game I defeated 1. The difficulty found here is very high but don’t let that discourage you - as there is a lot of fun to be had with ‘Rogue Legacy’. Impressive level design, constant reward and a highly addictive nature mean that in ‘Rogue Legacy’ victory can come, even in defeat.