mon 08/08/2022

Rogue Legacy | reviews, news & interviews

Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy

This retro platformer with a twist is a family affair

'Rogue Legacy': Roguelike strategy and looting with a unique familial twist

At first glance, Rogue Legacy looks like a straight retro platformer in the vein of Castlevania or The Lost Vikings. You must negotiate a castle and other environs made up of floating platforms, floor spikes and fireball-spewing traps while collecting loot hidden in chests or inside the smashable furniture while being harried by varied enemies who mostly follow set paths.

Of course, the devil is in the detail and - in this case - the title. Rogue Legacy is a form of "roguelike" - a class of RPG descended from the ancient ASCII game Rogue and noted for being brutally unforgiving. Rogue's single cruellest feature was the concept of permadeath. When you die in a roguelike, there are no save games or time-rewinding powers. You die. Game over. That's it for you. In some variants, a future character might see a pile of bones and rusted armour where you fell but that's your lot.

Rogue Legacy - roguelike with a genealogical twistRogue Legacy is more "in the spirit of" roguelike games rather than a full-on member of the family. Where most roguelikes are turn-based and reward careful strategic play, this is an action game to the core and you need quick wits and fast fingers if you are going to use the fancy skill you spent ages grinding to unlock. The sheer complexity and detail of roguelikes like Nethack or Angband is also absent, but that's not to say Rogue Legacy lacks depth. There is a good deal more going on here than in, say, Diablo - perhaps the most widely known (and watered down) of Rogue's descendants.

This game's unique twist on permadeath is where the "Legacy" bit comes in. Every time you die (which will be often - the game is harder than a diamond Ross Kemp) your next character will be a descendant of that recently deceased hero. You can choose between three possible heirs every time, and each will have a random selection of abilities and traits which vary from the useful (Gigantism or the automap-boosting Eidetic Memory) to the downright silly (Vertigo, which inverts the screen, or Nostalgic, which gives the game a sepia tone).

This notion of new and unique characters is a bit of a cheat really, as you get to keep any gold that you find and can spend it on upgrading your family home to boost your starting abilities or affect gameplay in various ways. You are in effect playing your entire family tree as a character, it's just that every time you enter the castle you have slightly different stats and perks.

Rogue Legacy - roguelike with a genealogical twistGameplay is tough, but the random nature of the obstacles you face and the traits system keeps things fresh enough for you to want to try again and again. Despite its retro looks, a lot of effort has clearly been put into making Rogue Legacy, and the result is a finely-tuned game that finds a sweet spot between frustration and reward. There are lots of pleasing little touches and "Easter eggs" (eg the "Hedgehog's Curse" rune, which will have you spilling coins on contact with an enemy and raise a smile in fans of a certain 16-bit hero), but it is the solid gameplay that will keep you coming back for more.

When you die in a roguelike, there are no save games or time-rewinding powers. You die. Game over. That's it for you


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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