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Rogue Legacy (PlayStation 4) artwork

Rogue Legacy (PlayStation 4) review

"We're all a little coprolaliac. "

Rogue Legacy is a perfect storm of challenging gameplay, simple basic mechanics, and RPG-style character growth to be immediately addictive.

At its core, Rogue Legacy is a roguelike platformer, with all of the randomly generated levels that go with that. The twist is that the game isn't over when your character dies. Instead, you'll pick one of the character's children to control (while the castle rebuilds itself), followed by one of their children, generation after generation. Each character is unique. One child might be a miner, who can seek out treasure but has low stats. Another child might be a barbarian, who has high HP but low strength and magic. On top of the different jobs, characters can have one or two other unique traits, such as gigantism or dwarfism, meaning the character will be huge or tiny, affecting the reach of their sword swings and the size of their hitboxes. A colourblind character will see the world in black and white, while a clumsy character will break things just by touching them. Even multiple characters with the same job will play slightly differently thanks to these traits.

Rogue Legacy (PlayStation 4) image

All of these characters can be improved using Rogue Legacy's progression system. By spending gold you find while exploring the castle, you can add new rooms to your family's manor, or upgrade existing ones. These rooms can unlock new classes, improve all characters' base stats, or unlock new tools and features. The RPG elements don't stop there, either. There's a blacksmith, who can create new equipment for you using blueprints you find in the castle, an an enchantress, who can sell you special runes that will give you new abilities and traits. Runes can allow you to do nifty things like dash to the side, double jump, or even fly. This all adds a layer of depth, though it can sometimes make the game feel like a bit of a grind. You will make many (enjoyable) trips into the castle just to collect gold to improve your stats and equipment.

Your characters are constantly improving as you play, giving Rogue Legacy a nice sense of progression that other similar roguelike platformers lack. Your basic tool set is simple and easy to understand, but you have so many more options beyond them. Want to build your characters? Play as a miner or spelunker, equip runes and equipment that increase the amount of gold you find, head into the castle, and hoard treasure until you've breathed your last breath. Want to take on one of the bosses? Play as a barbarian and wander around until you find the boss' lair. Then either take him on or keep exploring. When you die, pick a more boss-friendly class, and use the Architect to prevent the castle from randomizing at the cost of a good chunk of the gold you find once you enter. Then use one of the teleporters to jump right to the boss' room. No need to wander around again. The sheer number of options, thanks to the clever ways the mechanics work together, are what make Rogue Legacy stand out among its contemporaries.

Rogue Legacy (PlayStation 4) image

It's good that the mechanics evolve as you play, because, like all procedurally generated games, you'll start to recognize the various room layouts after a short while. This is an unfortunate weakness of the genre, but Rogue Legacy does enough interesting things to keep it from getting stale too quickly.

Gameplay isn't all fluff, either. Even without the character building and planning, the mechanics are simple but solid. Your basic move pool is essentially limited to running, jumping, attacking, and using whatever single spell your character knows. Jumping is consistent and platforming feels good. The basic sword attack has just enough speed and range to keep things challenging without making you feel defenseless. The aerial downward sword stab (similar to Link's downward stab in Zelda II) is a more advanced technique that requires practice and comes with an inherent risk, but is handy once you've mastered it. Spells can be legitimate magic, like the ability to stop time for a large drain on your MP, or simple weapons, like axes that fly through the air in an arc, or knives that travel straight ahead. Some of these spells can move through walls, while others can't, and figuring out which spell does which is a matter of trial and error. The same applies to enemy attacks, and even enemies themselves. The fireballs from a Starburst will disappear when they hit a wall, but fireballs from an Eyeball will continue to travel until they leave the area. There's not really any rhyme or reason to it, but there are few enough projectile and flying enemy types to make them easy to remember once you've been exposed to them enough.

Rogue Legacy (PlayStation 4) image

Rogue Legacy takes its simple, solid foundation and builds upon it with a lot of clever extra mechanics and abilities and a few fun quirks. Its retro art style and personality help it present itself well, and the constant character progression will suck you in and keep you doing just-one-more-run after just-one-more-run for hours. Rogue Legacy is one of those games that's greater than the sum of its parts. Don't miss it.


Roto13's avatar
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (July 29, 2014)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

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