Up until recently I wasn’t even aware this was hiding away in the PS store as a free game for PlayStation Plus members throughout February, in fact I only picked it up a day or two before March’s offerings replaced it- probably because it was initially labelled as a PS Vita title it wasn’t until I checked the store on my phone it appeared a multi-platform title. And having now played it for a while I’m glad I did download it as its done something few others can – tear me away from Destiny.
Rogue Legacy, developed by Cellar Door Games, is a 2D platformer with rogue-like elements in the shape of procedural-generated maps – meaning that every time you die the castle and is surroundings regenerate! well, almost every time but we will cover that later.
You start off the game as “Sir Lee, The Useless Knight” (a knight of no discernible skills or talents) as he sets off into the castle grounds to uncover the history of his family’s heritage and make no mistake about it – on your first few playthroughs you will die. A lot. The good news is however is that there is no shortage of heir’s to your throne although due to a number of years of selective breeding (and in the case of some traits, possible inbreeding…) your noble blood line contains a number of randomly generated traits which may help or hind your successor!
However help is at hand to combat any genetic short comings you might experience! Once you start to get to grips with the game mechanics, monsters and traps you’ll gather enough Gold to make your journey a little easier and it can be found everywhere – from killing monsters, treasure chests and even smashing furniture and pottery. Gold can be spent in a number of ways but the initial method of splashing the cash is upgrading your Manor, which unlocks a number of helpful pathways to get you on your way. Early on you’ll be able to unlock a Blacksmith, an enchantress and the architect. You can also use it to increase your health, mana, critical hit % rate amongst other stats (although the more you put in the more expensive the next increase will be) as well as unlocking new character classes (which even includes Ninjas!)
As briefly touched on earlier – through upgrading the Manor you’ll gain access to three vendors:
- The Blacksmith – During your explorations you’ll come across blueprints that the blacksmith can use to forge you armour and weapons to improve your stats but you’ll have to pay the gold price for it
- The Enchantress – Along with blueprints you can also find runes which the enchantress can use on you to enhance your abilities giving you useful skills such as double jumps. As with the Blacksmith this will cost you gold.
- The Architect – Remember when I said earlier every time you die the castle regenerates? Well if you’ve found a good Gold mining layout or have a teleport checkpoint straight to a boss – speaking to the Architect will prevent the castle from regenerating! This will cost you 40% of ALL the gold you earn on that run but especially early on it will help you to learn the skills needed in a slightly more controlled environment
It is also wise to spend, spend, spend! If you got it, spend it. Why do I say this? Well, before you can enter the castle after re-spawning you need to pay a toll to Charon (For those not well versed in Greek Mythology – Charon is the ferryman of Hades). The cost of this toll? All your unspent gold are belong to Charon, although this can be reduced via upgrades to the Manor.
In terms of game play it is similar to titles such as Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac. If you make a mistake you will be punished (usually with death!) but with the game being relatively easy to pick up you’ll keep coming back for more attempts. The permanent upgrade system is a huge bonus in such a game – it was one of my bug bears with The Binding of Isaac and makes death that little less frustrating in Rogue Legacy knowing you wont lose your stat boosts. The Architect is a fantastic addition as well as it does allow a few runs in a certain setting to get the most out of it. Whilst the controls can take a little getting use to, mainly the jump sensitivity and distances, it is a wonderfully fluid game and the character classes mixed with traits certainly keeps things fresh and certainly adds a huge amount of replay value here
Visually it looks great from the character sprites to the level designs everything looks crisp and clean. You’ll always generally be able to see what’s ahead in terms of monsters or traps even when your bloodline traits cause you to see in black and white or in a limited field of view! In many respects it reminds me of a more polished version of Capcom’s Ghosts ‘n Goblin in terms of the styling of the enemies, character and scenery.
In summary, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I first downloaded Rogue Legacy but after giving it an hour’s play I found myself coming back for more each time, which considering I struggled to get to grips with other games such as this has left me pleasantly surprised.
Although the game is no longer available for free via PlayStation Plus it is certainly still worth a look as there are hours of replayability here and the cross-buy compatibility gives even better value if you own another PlayStation System. It does a lot of things from this genre well indeed and some things even better!