Sir Wallace II crept through the dimly lit dungeon, low on health and fearing death. He was afflicted with Gigantism, which increased his attack range, but made him much easier to hit with projectiles. Coupled with his near-sightedness, he was practically a magnet for fireballs. As he entered a room and completely fudged a dodge attempt, a Flamelock reduced him to zero health, and the tale of Sir Wallace II came to an anticlimactic end. He was survived by his three children, only one brave enough to shoulder the burden of returning to the castle to finish what his/her father had started.
Such is life in Rogue Legacy, a game where the difficulty is half in the levels themselves, and half in the traits of the character you choose to champion your cause. In the random, procedurally-generated dungeon, you will encounter many frustrating enemies, such as flaming eyeballs who shoot multiple projectiles through walls at you, or knights with giant shields that cause you to whiz backward if you strike them from the front. That’s not even including the bosses, who are in a league of their own. However, their challenge is compounded by the traits of your adventurer, which can range from somewhat positive to startlingly negative.
This unique system of traits was really the main draw of this game, in my opinion. Every time your character dies, (and they will, frequently) you are permitted to choose one of their heirs to play as. There are three to choose from, and they can have 1-2 traits, or none at all. Some of the traits do virtually nothing, such as being gay, or Coprolalia, which just makes you shout obscenities when hit. Then, there are the traits that completely break the game, such as vertigo–everything is upside down and your left and right movement is reversed. I’m sure that’s nice for people trying to do challenge runs of the game, but I can’t see anyone feasibly going with that trait, in all seriousness.
The gameplay of Rogue Legacy is spot-on. Satisfying attack animations, fluid movements, and hitboxes where they should be. Very rarely did I think about the hunk of plastic in my hand, since the controls were pretty much second nature by the two or three hour mark. Couple near-flawless controls with a plethora of unique classes, each with their own special ability, and baby, you’ve got a stew going. Sure, it’s a difficult game, even punishing at times, but the chance at a fresh start after death always keeps me playing.
Another welcome aspect of the game is castle management. Upon death, the money your late adventurer collected can be used to upgrade your manor. Doing so allows you to make your future characters stronger, unlock new classes for them to use, and make available the blacksmith, architect, and enchantress. The blacksmith can make armor and weapons out of blueprints you find in chests, which is an integral part of the game considering it helps you…well, not die. The enchantress is in a similar vein; you find runes inside chests that she can use to imbue your armor–giving you various boosts. You can combine them, as well, giving you the ability to have multiple jumps in mid-air, or multiple dashes. The architect allows you to return to the same dungeon as the adventurer before you did, but he takes 70 percent of the gold you earn if you decide to do so.
So that’s a ton of stuff that sounds awesome. Surely, there must be some bad news, right? Well, unfortunately, yes. While the traits are the driving force of the game, they’re a bit of a novelty, and a lot of times I’d find myself picking the heir with zero traits, simply because I didn’t have to worry about the negatives. Additionally, Rogue Legacy is a bit of a grindfest; I found myself grabbing the Spelunker (gains additional gold) and suicide rushing as many chests as I could to get gold for upgrades. Some people may like that kind of gameplay, but I find it kind of annoying when I’m almost forced to do that.
Overall, though, the positives outweigh the negatives rather handily. Rogue Legacy is a fun game in every sense of the word, and a couple pet peeves here and there won’t ruin that. Solid gameplay, entertaining nuances, challenging enemies, and a New Game+ feature all make this game worth playing, for at least the estimated length of 15 hours. I’m still playing it, after beating the core game. Now, to try to overcome my latest adventurer’s crippling Irritable Bowel Syndrome…
You can buy Rogue Legacy on Steam for $14.99 USD — HERE
Rogue Legacy was reviewed using a code provided by Cellar Door Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s reviews/ethics policy here.