Rogue Legacy (PS4 [Reviewed], PS3, PS Vita, PC)
Developer: Cellar Door Games
Publisher: Cellar Door Games
Genre(s): Roguelike, 2D Platformer
Released: July 29, 2014 (PlayStation Systems), June 27, 2013 (PC)
ESRB: T – Teen
Rogue Legacy was a critical hit when it released on PC a little over a year ago, and today Cellar Door Games have brought their hit title to PS4, PS3, and PS Vita with cross-buy and cross-save. Rogue Legacy is now available on the PlayStation Store for $16.99, and that’s a great price since you’re getting it for three systems and because the game is superb.
I became a fan of the “roguelike,” or in this case “roguelite,” genre last year (I know, way late to the genre party) when Spelunky came to PS3. There’s something about the procedurally generated worlds and old school style look and gameplay that appeals to me.
Rogue Legacy is every bit as addicting as I found Spelunky to be, and more so. What sets Rogue Legacy apart is its sense of progression. Things aren’t just about the “current” run and seeing how far you can get before dying and having to start over. And that’s great, because in the beginning you’ll die early and often.
As you work your way through the randomly generated castle layout, slaying enemies and avoiding death traps in room after room, you’ll acquire gold. Gold is the essential component of Rogue Legacy. It’s what you’ll buy runes and gear with (of course you’ll have to find the runes and blueprints first), and it’s what you’ll use to upgrade your family manor and create stronger characters.
In Rogue Legacy, when the character you’re controlling dies, it is game over for that character. He or she falls victim to permadeath. But the good news is whatever items or gold they find before they meet their demise will be passed on to whichever of three offspring you pick for your next character.
After picking your next character, you’ll go to the family manor, where you’ll be able to spend your gold on upgrades (like health, mana, attack, critical, gold finding, and upgrading classes to create new classes). Your first characters are weak throwaways basically sacrificing themselves for their future descendents.
This really adds something special to Rogue Legacy, because it allows the player to see how they’re making progress and helps to push forward into and beyond the castle. By the time upgrades start costing a lot of gold, you should be at the point where you’re able to clear the castle with little trouble and venture into the harder areas (the forest, the tower, and the dungeon) for more gold and better rewards. Of course you’ll quickly get killed there too, and thus the process begins again.
Even when you finally vanquish the boss of each area, and the final boss, there is New Game+ that makes things even harder. Now I haven’t gotten that far, but I don’t mind… I’ve been having a blast doing gold runs. So there’s a lot on offer here, and the procedurally generated nature of the game in addition to character traits and random classes opens up near limitless replay value since each run could go drastically different.
Of course if you find a layout that you really like, or made it to a boss in one of the harder areas, you can have the architect lock down the build. Any gold you find will be worth 60% less than it would if it were a new build, but doing this is a great way to practice against a boss without having to try and find it again. After locking it down, just enter the castle and hit the teleport to go to the area you wish. It saves a lot of time and ensures that you’ll be able to start the boss fight with all of your health and mana, two things you are definitely going to need.
Within the castle and other areas there are chests to be opened. These usually contain gold, but there are also special chest to be found. These usually require you to do something before you’re able to open it; reach it in five seconds, get to it without jumping, get to it without taking damaging, without fighting, killing all enemies, etc. Many times, you’ll be unable to open these chests because of the random nature of the build and you not having the right class or rune ability. Inside these special chests though are runes (basically perks that make your characters better), weapon and armor blueprints, and stat increases. Some rooms will have harder mini bosses that will drop a special chests if you manage to kill it/them.
There are also other special rooms hidden around. A room with a journal, a jukebox, a painting, a prayer for assistance (can do nothing, be helpful, or humorously unhelpful… like the Hedgehog’s Curse, which will see your gold coins fly out every time you get hit and you’ll have to try to pick them back up), a 1-in-3 chance gambling room, and a carnival with two games that I have yet to win either of.
Rogue Legacy is a challenge, and I love it. It’s the perfect blend of the roguelike procedurally generated environments and continuous RPG progression that makes “one more run” turn into two extra hours over dozens of runs.
I played it on the PS4 and imagine it plays exactly the same on PS3. The controls are simple, and for those who like the d-pad, using it is every bit as good as using the thumbstick in this game. I don’t have a Vita, but this really seems like the type of game that would be perfect for that system. Runs usually don’t last terribly long (unless you’re leveled up enough or just really skilled), which means you can get in several quick runs on the go and then resume on your TV later. An ideal game for those who own a PS Vita and either/both a PS4 or PS3, because the game is kind of addicting and the Vita will allow you to get your “fix” on the go, on the toilet, outside, or wherever you use your Vita.
Since the PS4 released in November, a lot of great indie titles have come to the system (and a lot of them are like Rogue Legacy in that they are cross-buy with a PS3 and Vita version), but Rogue Legacy might be the best of the group so far.
Regardless of your PlayStation preference at the moment, Rogue Legacy is an absolute must own if you are even the slightest bit interested in challenging roguelite/2D platformers. It’s excellent in every way, and to date I’d put it amongst the best games available on PS4. Get it; it’s tons of fun and definitely worth $17 ($14 if you’re a Plus member).
* A PSN code was provided by the publisher for review.