Genre: Platformer, roguelike, agility
Release Date: 2013
Developer / Publisher: Cellar Door Games
I’ve done my fair share of dungeon crawls but I don’t recall playing the original 1980s Rogue for more than a few minutes. Rogue Legacy has many of the attributes of roguelike games: dungeon crawl (there be monsters and loot!), randomly generated levels and permadeath (start again!). Rogue Legacy is a real time combat platformer, which makes it a tough cookie for the teeth of old video gamers accustomed to turn based take your time monster bashing. In addition, each time a hero dies, a randomly generated descendant picks up the torch from scratch (hence the legacy part) and gets to spend the gold accumulated on the previous run. The story is barebones classic and can be summarised as “go find a cure for the King in a dungeon filled with monsters”.
Playability: Timed jumps
First cannon fires missiles every two seconds. Two black knights wield morning stars counter clockwise while slowly moving away from each other. Some sort of caped wizard shoots three (or five?) fireballs every four seconds, while his acolyte sends freezing shards. Gotta time the jump perfectly… Didn’t see the zombie hiding behind the row of deadly spikes… You get the picture. Rogue legacy requires fine timed jumps, advance hand-eye coordination and rapid finger agility.
Annoyance: Tough head to crack
Rogue Legacy is one tough platformer. Since the dungeons are randomly generated, you never really get better at doing exactly the same jumps or fighting the same enemies at the same locations over and over again. You can freeze the layout of the dungeon against a share of your loot but the gold you’ve picked up will not regenerate, so there’s no incentive there. I am really bad at this game but I was definitely a lot worse in the beginning. It was a slow grind, but with better equipment and higher level heroes, I was eventually able to progress through the levels.
Beauty: Pixel ugly
No matter how you look at it (and I’ve tried standing on the other side of the room squinting at my screen), Rogue Legacy is not a pretty game. I’m not sure if the electronic keyboard soundtrack is here to annoy you or to push you forward so you won’t have to listen to it anymore. The level bosses are the ugliest because they are the largest on screen. This might not be a bad thing because you’ll want to quickly dispatch them and put them out of their misery.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Aggravating fun 6/10
Rogue Legacy is an annoying game because it is so easy to get into, yet so difficult to complete. A few minutes to quickly run through a dungeon are harmless fun. Soon time flies and you end up upgrading your equipment and increasing your hero’s descendants’ statistics so you can get more gold, see a few more chambers… It would take an old video gamer dozens upon dozens of generations to skewer the final big bad boss.