Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Rogue Legacy (PC)

I forgot long ago how many generations have passed, how many flame-ring-tossing wizards I've slain, how many chests I've opened and how many spike-filled corridors I've traversed, how many times my IBS-ridden children have farted in midst of a dangerous battle. Rogue Legacy can do that to you.

Founded in 2009, the creator of Rogue Legacy, Cellar Door Games were already pretty well known in the indie scene for their portfolio of flash games - in particular the cheekily named "Don't Shit Your Pants", but their past successes are nothing in comparison to the mass exposure that they have received following the release of Rogue Legacy. And this exposure is well deserved, as Rogue Legacy is one of the most, if not the most, enjoyable 2D platformers I've played in a very long time (save for the superb Spelunky).

In Rogue Legacy, players don't just have one main character, they have dozens if not hundreds, because death happens a lot. This is a roguelike after all, or perhaps more accurately (in the developer's own words) a rogue-lite; the game is not a roguelike proper, but rather one that incorporates several random elements of the genre into what is primarily a hack 'n' slash platformer.

First off, each time the player is slain, they are reincarnated as the next in the lineage - each new child has a host of buffs and, well, debuffs. Rogue Legacy uses this to great humor, producing playable offspring such as "Sir Dude the Giant Colorblind Ninja" or "Lady Sansa the Far-Sighted Spellsword". Effects produce some interesting results that can either hinder or hamper each playthrough, requiring players to adapt constantly.

In addition to random playable characters, the castle and its surrounding areas are also procedurally generated, ensuring even more variety. Occasionally, I stumbled upon a chunk of rooms or traps that was similar, but it didn't happen often; each challenge felt new.

As players progress through the castle, rather than leveling up, the castle keep can be expanded and characters (and equipment) upgraded, allowing one to delve further into the dungeon, encounter giant bosses, and fulfill their destinies. Runes can be discovered, unlocked and equipped (bestowing various powers), and weapon and armor blueprints can be uncovered and smithed, raising your stats and abilities. The sheer variety here is awesome. Players will discover early on that it will be many, many hours before all of this pretty gear is unlocked.

Speaking of pretty, Rogue Legacy's graphics, while extremely polished and full of character, aren't this game's highest point. What makes Rogue Legacy so good is that it's genuinely entertaining. There's enough challenge to ensure that players will meet their demise constantly, but the random aspects of the game make death almost inviting and entertaining in itself. As more and more of the castle reveals itself due to the upgrades purchased and expanding keep, Rogue Legacy practically begs for "just one more" play-through. This is the kind of game that is always keen to inform you that there are secrets just out of reach, chests that can only be opened by taking a massive risk, and bigger and badder beasties to discover. As usual, I won't be revealing these secrets to you, as it's one of the most satisfying aspects of Rogue Legacy.

So, saddle up in a comfy chair, wire up that Xbox 360 controller (trust me, this game needs one) and hack away in this fantastic, novel, and well executed platformer that blends old and new into something very special.

Purchase the game/download the demo here (direct from the developer's web site).
5 out of 5