Developer(s) – Cellar Door Games
Designer(s) – Kenny & Teddy Lee
PEGI – 12
Rogue Legacy is a 2D randomly generated semi-open world side scroller RPG, requiring the player to adapt to a wide variety of different dangers throughout, and coming up with as much gold and as many different upgrades with each playthrough. Although it is particularly demanding of it’s players in terms of individual skill, and it does take a bit of time to get the game’s fundamentals right to start, it can turn into a very enjoyable gaming experience within a quick enough time frame, without it being far too inaccessible like the games that it was based on.
Graphics – 7/10
The visuals of the game are extremely reminiscent of that of some of the earlier years of console gaming, containing finely designed 16-bit pixel art throughout, as well as even some 8-bit music in it’s soundtrack. In many different ways, besides the graphics, the game can be seen as a love letter to a number of early Castlevania games; namely the original trilogy, as well as Symphony of the night, given the fact that the majority of the game takes place within and around a castle filled with tons of different enemies to have to overcome.
Gameplay – 8/10
The game requires the player to traverse the Castle Hampson, and it’s other surrounding areas, to simply kill as many enemies as possible and accumulate as much gold as possible in order to pay for upgrades, which will in turn make each succeeding player character stronger in order to eventually conquer the castle’s four bosses, and open the door to the game’s final boss. Every time a character dies, the player must then select an heir to that character, and return to the castle to simply rinse and repeat. What I like about this game so much is that the player character is almost always different in stature, ability and strength, forcing players to compromise accordingly, and adapt to multiple styles of play. The game demands diversity, exploration of gameplay variety and experimentation; all whilst not being too punishing like many other retro 2D side scrollers.
Controls – 9/10
The only grip I have with the controls is that they can be a little bit unresponsive at time, which in turn can lead to making unforced errors here and there. But by no means does this make the game unplayable. The control scheme, as well as the success of the game heavily relies on players ability to adapt to things such as character variety, enemy patterns and being as prepared as possible for the unexpected.
Lifespan – 10/10
With an intense learning curve, as well as the facility to fight harder variations of the five bosses in the game, with the reward for beating them being an additional unlockable character, this game offers almost unlimited replay value; especially since it offers a different experience every time. It could be argued that one playthrough would take a few hours, but I believe playing through the entire game in one sitting will be a rarity.
Storyline – N/A (10/10)
The game is also like an arcade title, in the respect that there is really no fixed plot, but only a basic premise, which is described through the basic premise of gameplay. There is a side quest present in which the player must find a series of journals left behind by the castle’s prince, giving a small element of back story, which to me, acts as nothing more than a bonus, since this game didn’t need a fixed story, and by proxy, it isn’t marred down by any kind of feeble attempt at establishing one.
Originality – 6/10
Let it never be dais that this game clearly has it’s influence in terms of both visual style and the basic premise of it’s gameplay. It even bears some resemblance to the same basic premise of many other video games before story was as much of a focus as it is today. It does however score points in terms of originality for it’s positive modifying of a very popular gaming formula, since no other game of it’s kind (that I’ve played anyway), has been able to offer such a huge amount of replay value.
To summarize, I would go so far as to say that Rogue Legacy is the greatest Metroidvania game I have ever played. It may sound like an extremely controversial opinion, but I’ve never played Super Metroid. But as it stands, this definitely tops the list as far as I’m concerned.