Rogue Legacy is an action packed platformer created by developer Cellar Door Games. Although the title has been available to download for the PC since 2013, it has only recently been ported over to the Sony consoles. Having to wait over a year for a game to come out is terrible. Those poor Playstation owners are being subjected to the same shoddy delays normally reserved for hapless Australian gamers (crikey.) On the plus side I can report that the wait was well worth it. This indie gem, about a knight battling his way through a haunted castle, is a must have – particularly for anyone who loves the old school Castlevanias.
The aim of the game is to explore the above-mentioned fortress and defeat the four guardians that reside there. Accomplishing this not so easy task will grant you access to the final area where the last boss lies in wait. Impeding your progress are traps to avoid and a plethora of hostile minions to slay. The enemies in question include acid spewing foliage, hooded spectres that resemble Orko from the He-Man cartoons and skeletal guards that pelt you with bones. Oddly enough, no matter how many bones the Skeletor wannabes hurl at you they never seem to exhaust their supply of body parts. Next time I play I shall endeavour to dodge 206 of their projectiles. If they are still pelting me after that I’ll scribe a strongly worded letter to Cellar Door Games bemoaning the inaccuracy of their products.
One thing I should warn new players about is that challenging Rogue Legacy will lead to many deaths. Your inaugural trek through the castle is unlikely to last beyond two minutes (no comment on that duration equalling my stamina under the bed covers.) Once the knight capitulates it’s time to restart your quest by choosing one of the deceased’s three descendants. Having to start from the very beginning, with a new character, might sound lame but fear not as your previous run was not in waste. Opening chests, vanquishing monsters and wrecking the castle decor will yield gold that can be used to purchase upgrades. The general idea is that your next attempt will last a bit longer as you will come equipped with stronger weapons, hardier armour and new skills.
Anyone plotting to stockpile gold should be aware that entry into the castle relieves you of whatever funds you are carrying, much like a wife asking for shopping money. You therefore have to blow your earnings on whatever upgrades you can afford because the remainder will be claimed by the hooded figure blocking the castle’s entrance. Once inside the cycle begins anew. Fight for as long as you can, die, spend the income you made on upgrades and try again. The whole experience may sound frustrating, but it is actually rather addictive. You’ll have a tough time putting down the controller, as the urge to have one more go is too strong to resist.
Replaying the game from the very start could potentially get repetitive, but thankfully the developers have included some neat features to keep things fresh. Firstly the castle’s rooms randomly shift position every time you visit the structure, thereby giving you new mazes to explore. The root cause of the ever-changing architecture is unclear. My money is on a mystical enchantment cast over the building, although it’s certainly possible that an ultra fast redecorator is giving the place a quick facelift between knightly deaths.
The other thing that makes each play through unique is that the descendants you control each have their own set of skills and traits. During one run you may play as a barbarian who can repel foes with a loud bellow whilst in another game you may control a paladin who can deflect bullets with his shield. The randomly generated characters come complete with distinct traits, some which are beneficial and some that are humorous. Some funny traits that I have spied include IBS that causes your character to sporadically fart, colour blindness that changes the usually colourful graphics to black/white and alektorophobia that summons deadly chickens.
My rating for Rogue Legacy is a five out of five. It’s no wonder that indie games are all the rage these days when you consider that an inexpensive download, like this one, ends up being more enjoyable than many full price releases. The whole package is a joy to play thanks to the charming sixteen bit visuals, funky retro music and responsive controls. Don’t let the title’s reputation for being hard put you off, as I normally have an aversion to taxing games and still managed to love this one. Even if your lifespan initially mimics that of a lemming atop the Eifel Tower, with a little practice and some upgrades Rogue Legacy’s challenges gradually become more and more manageable. At the time of writing ninety of the knight’s family have perished within the castle and yet my desire to lead more of them to their slaughter shows no signs of waning.