Review: Rogue Legacy (PlayStation Vita)

Rogue Legacy: Official GBAtemp Review

PlayStation Vita 2,925 views 5 likes 10 comments
Reviewed by Thomas Hugh, posted Jul 28, 2014
I really wanted to finish Rogue Legacy at least once before writing a review, as I feel that is the best way to cover a game. I mean how can you score a game fairly without even finishing it? I got my review copy nearly 2 weeks before the game was due to be released, despite this, I still haven't managed to finish it but I have been playing it every day and have put a load of time into it. In fact I have a bit of an issue with the game regarding invested time vs overall progress.
Jul 28, 2014
  • Release Date (NA): July 29, 2014
  • Release Date (EU): July 30, 2014
  • Publisher: Cellar Door Games
  • Developer: Cellar Door Games
  • Genres: Platformer/Rogue Lite
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • PEGI Rating: Twelve years and older
  • Also For: Computer, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Rogue Legacy is a rogue-lite adventure platformer developed by Cellar Door games and released on PC in 2013. The game was announced for PS3, PS4 and PSVita at Gamescom in 2013 and is now finally here, available as a crossbuy title.
Thomas Hugh

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1001 Knights

Two things quickly became clear to me whilst playing Rogue Legacy, either I suck at platformers and roguelites, or the game is extremely difficult. Having been a pretty hardcore gamer for the best part of 30 years, I'm going to go with the latter. Rogue Legacy is HARD! Never before have I felt that the term "you're doing it wrong" might actually apply to myself. Rogue Legacy can be equally frustrating and punishing, but that is one of of its charms and is also part of its main mechanic.

See, unlike other Rogue-type games, in Rogue Legacy, if you die your next character will be an actual descendant of the player you just lost, retaining abilities, experience, upgrades and gold. This means that as long as you keep battling away, you should be making progress even if you ultimately keep on dying, which you will do. A lot!

Progress is achieved by using the collected gold to upgrade the Manor, which can add permanent stat boots or unlock new classes. This is the meta game within Rogue Legacy, go gold hunting and maybe attempt to kill a boss, die, invest gold, try again with the upgraded heir.

World

You start out at the gates of Castle Hamson, the first area of 4 dungeons, but this is no ordinary world, it is randomly generated and will reset each time you enter. This means that the Castle and connecting areas are never ever the same when you tackle them. Some rooms are repeated very rarely, but the layout of the map as well as enemy placement and variety is completely random. This is what gives the game challenge, it's almost like a new experience every time you enter the world, at least initially. You can lock the world's layout if you so wish by paying the NPC Architect a small fee. This helps you to make some map progress but in return you won't gain as much gold, an awkward trade off as gold is needed to upgrade your Manor and upgrades become very expensive very quickly!

The main objective in Rogue Legacy is to defeat the area boss of each section; Castle, Forest, Maya and Land of Darkness in order to unlock the final boss door seen at the entrance to the castle. The bosses can be extremly tough and this is where my main issue with Rogue Legacy begins. I was level 44 before I was able to beat the first boss, and level 65 for the second boss. I made it to the third boss at around level 68 but got annihilated so figured I'd probably need to grind another 20 levels or so, like the jump from the first boss to the second. I felt at this level with the amount of time I had played, I should be wrecking the bad guys!

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My Manor

After dying your Heir will appear at the manor where you can invest gold into many different upgrades such as HP, MP, Attack STR, Critical Chance % as well as unlocking new classes. Before reentering the castle you can visit the Blacksmith to buy any new weapons or armor upgrades you may have gained from finding blueprints throughout the dungeons. It is also worth paying The Enchantress a visit to buy and equip any runes. Runes add abilities such as dashing or double-jump as well as HP and Mana regeneration. All of these upgrades are a vital part of becoming more powerful and increasing the odds of success in the dungeons.

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Enemies and Scaling

Enemies take the shape of bone throwing skeletons, mace flailing suits of armor, mages and more. Each dungeon has it's own area specific enemies as well as many level hazards such as spike spits or flame throwing turrets.

You can attack with sword slashes and depending on which class you choose you sometimes have a special ability like the Paladin's Shield block or the Hokage's Teleport spell. Players also have access to magic spells like throwing axes, knives or protecting themselves with a circle of fire. Initially early enemies will take a few hits but as you level up they become slightly easier to dispatch. My issue with the level system is that the enemies also scale with your progress, so it never really becomes too easy to just whiz through the areas to the boss room, at least it hasn't for me yet. I still have to be as careful now as I was with Johannes The Legendary Knight, 108 lives ago, only there is slightly more wiggle room for making a mistake here and there.

This setup means that you will most likely be playing the same area over and over many times just to grind levels and find loot. Thankfully the randomly generated levels doesn't make this feel like a chore.

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Traits

When decidng on which of the three heirs to your fortune to next send to their doom, the selections on offer will often have a certain trait. Traits are mostly funny and can either be a real help or a mighty hindrance effecting you or the game world itself. For instance, your next offspring might be unfortunate enough to have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) but you will enjoy a 30% speed boost. Maybe the next will suffer with Vertigo, rendering the entire game world upsidedown, including your latest heir and at the same time reversing the controls. It feels like the traits were added as a bit of fun to break up what could otherwise become quite monotonous gameplay. No one wants to play the game in black and white because their player character is Colour Blind, but it is funny to see how your latest trait impacts the game world.

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I am still playing through Rogue Legacy and intend to see it through to the end (even if it takes me the rest of the year). It is a charming game and a refreshing take on the Rogue-lite genre. The retro graphics and game design all work well together and it has addictive gameplay which has the potential to last for a very long time. It fits perfectly on the PS Vita and is instantly catapulted into my top 10 Vita titles.

On a side note I would really like to know how to get the Thanatophobia trophy, so if you do decide to pick up Rogue Legacy be sure to let me know if you really need to be that good, or if I am indeed doing it wrong!

 

Verdict
Pros
+ Funny
+ Tight controls and design
+ Random generation adds longevity
+ Crossbuy with PS3/PS4
Cons
- Play time vs. progression can feel uneven
8 Presentation
The retro graphics and excellent sound track fit the game's style very well.
8 Gameplay
The platforming is tight and the combat is simple but the bosses offer up enough new tactics to keep the gameplay feeling fresh. Plundering the dungeons for gold and looting that next must have item never gets old.
9 Lasting Appeal
As I understand it Rogue Legacy has an infinite new game plus cycle. That along with the randomly generated areas, remixed bosses and addictive gameplay means the game has the potential to keep you coming back indefinitely.
8
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Rogue Legacy is a must buy if you haven't already played it on PC. It runs flawlessly on the Vita and is an instant classic.
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