Two of my favourite games of all-time are Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and Dark Souls. It would only make sense that a charming 2D platformer with influences from both these games would end up in my game library. What I’ve found, however, is something much more than a loving tribute to brilliant action/adventure games of the 2D era. ‘Rogue Legacy’ is indeed itself, an instant classic, and truly a fantastic game in its own right.
As mentioned before, Rogue Legacy (from developer Cellar Door Games) is a 2D platformer in the same vein as the Castlevania series. Players assume the role of the descendant of a legendary knight, who follows in their ancestor’s footsteps and tries to defeat the evil castle which has appeared outside of the village. There is more to the story than that, and you’ll find plenty of puzzles and mysterious diaries which can aid the player through the ever-changing castle as well as flesh out the story in more detail.
Shortly after choosing their first character players will be introduced to the Manor (a skills and unlocks tree), which unlocks stat improvements, such as increased health or mana, as well as character classes and different merchants/village features. Each descendant also comes with a variety of different traits. Some can be an advantage, some can be a disadvantage and some can be either depending on your play-style. My first character was dyslexic, and therefore, all the words in-game became jumbled up and difficult to read. Thankfully, they died within a few rooms of the castle, and their child was a female barbarian with increased defence and ADHD, which gave them increased speed due to excess energy.
What I was not prepared for, was how incredibly difficult the game is to begin with, and when I say difficult, I mean one hit kills from demonic skulls that fly across the screen in under half a second. Not only that, but the castle itself is an enigma, and changes shape and room layout every time you start a new character! Being a sucker for punishment in games (I spent 40 hours in the beginning areas of Dark Souls), I was determined to see if I truly did suck as no one had sucked before at games, or if there was more to Rogue Legacy than funny character traits and extremely overpowered beginning enemies. I’m so glad I did. After one particularly lucky run in the castle I had enough gold coins to unlock the Blacksmith in the village, which then gave me access to better equipment. Slowly but surely, I began to unlock different equipment until I could survive a handful of rooms and eventually, access to runes (which act like perks or different abilities). After a few hours of gameplay, I was now able to conquer the entire starting area, which was in itself its own reward. I actually cracked a huge smile after I made it to the additional areas.
If you are fortunate enough to survive the beginning area of the castle, you are then able to make your way through additional areas, which contain insanely hard bosses. Defeating the bosses than grants access to the final area and the final boss, this naturally leads to finishing the game.
There is so much to like about Rogue Legacy, if you manage to get past the initial difficulty. It isn’t as hard as Dark Souls (largely because of the arcade gameplay and 2D plane) but it certainly is hard. That being said, those of you who do manage to tough it out will find the game a truly enjoyable experience, particularly if you, like me, enjoy pixels, 2D levels and sprites.
Visually, Rogue Legacy is simple, but also charming in its own way. The human characters are cute, but not too that they can’t be taken seriously. The enemies may look like they adorable versions of Castlevania enemies, but they become scary quickly.
Sound-wise, Rogue Legacy has some enjoyable little tunes that play throughout the different areas of the Castle, and all the spells, enemies and other sound effects sound unique and are of a high standard. There aren’t any standout pieces of music that I feel I have to add to my video game playlist of music, but there aren’t any negligible tunes either.
- Tons of replayability
- Extremely fun, if you can handle the initial difficulty
- Controller and Big Picture compatible
- Not for impatient people or people who don’t like a challenge
- Next to no story
Score – 8.5/10