Rogue Legacy Review
Rougelike’s definition in video games is debatable. They are often defined as Rougelike for randomly generated dungeons, permanent death, resource management and exploring an unknown dungeon. Originally released on PC in 2013, Rogue Legacy is a Rouge like with elements of platformers by Cellar Door Games, an indie video game developer. All versions from PS4, 3, Vita and P.C have been highly received from critics and audiences, and has been praised for it’s accessible and new take on the rouge like genre.
The great quality’s of Rouge Legacy is the skill tree, varied and unique characters that are made at random. It’s negatives like most Rouge likes, is it’s unpredictable nature and difficulty spikes.
Is this a legacy that one can uphold and pass down, or is it a pointless cause?
(This review is based on the PS Vita Version that comes with Cross-Buy, allowing one to play the PS3 and 4 version free of charge and the PS3 and PS4 versions are identical to the PS Vita in quality.)
Most Rouge Likes in video games have their game-play split into three key components. Combat, Resource management and survival. Rouge Legacy has these components but with a twist, in that it is a platformer with these elements. Platformers have the player overcome challenges and object placement by applying their knowledge of the game mechanics to prevail over said challenges. Rouge Legacy utilises the elements of RPG’s, platformers and Rouge Like’s key components to craft the player experience. When the player starts the game, they are a basic level 0 knight and once the knight is eventually defeated by the monsters, he is gone forever and the gold the player collected with that knight is passed on to the next of kin.
The next of kin will have randomly generated classes, positive or negative traits and spells with their power varying depending on the class. (A dwarf barbarian benefits more from the circular blade saw than a dwarf Spelunker with the time stop ability.) The gold passed on is used on upgrading the skill tree (Or castle as represented in game) and buying weapons and secondary ability’s. The game has two game mechanics that make Rouge Legacy the accessible and exceptional game it is. Those mechanics are the skill tree and lock down system that successfully create frantic and fast paced action to the normally patient and caution filled experience of most Rouge Likes, and elevates the punishment most Rouge Likes are notorious for.
1. The skill tree
The skill tree system has the player spending the gold they have collected in their previous playthrough with a character that grants them upgrades such as increased health, improved classes, and a upgrade that can decrease the amount of gold they have to give to a being of death in order to explore the castle. The implementation of the skill tree allows the player to craft the way they play the game. Some will invest more on upgrades that increase their wealth, some focus more on stat growth and others will unlock useful classes and permanent ability’s such as Death Defy, and gives players options and flexibility on how they approach conquering the dungeon.
Rouge Likes are usually known for their punishing difficulty, and Rouge Legacy brings along this difficulty from the randomly generated platforming sections and dangerous monsters. While Rouge Legacy randomly generates floors like most Rouge Likes, that randomness has a clear pattern. The dungeon always has the four levels at defined locations, with the Maya located at the top, The land Of Darkness at the bottom, the forest to the right and the castle to the left. This pattern means that players will have confidence in knowing that if there ready to venture to a more dangerous place or fight the four level bosses, they simply have to move more to a certain direction rather than most Rouge Likes where the player can’t really tell where the next floor or level will be.
2. The lock system
When this system is unlocked in the skill tree, the player can choose to lock down the castle in exchange for gold’s value in that playthrough being deducted by 60%. This system serves as a crutch to new comers to the Rouge Like’s high difficulty by preserving the same layout and allowing them to adjust to the patterns of enemies and get used to the platforming layouts of the game. For experienced players, the lock down allows them to easily rematch bosses they found in their last playthrough when there character was drained from the monsters and platforming layouts, and teleport straight to the boss door at peak condition.
The system is great at getting new comers of the genre adapting to the games challenging monsters and numbers and allowing experienced players to fight boss battles without having their characters stamina drained. This system succeeds in diluting the punishment of other Rouge Likes by allowing the player to get straight back to where they left off when other Rouge Likes will have the player back at square one, and doesn’t compromise the challenge because the system only affects gold’ s value.
The regular monsters have a old school type of difficulty. They have clear patterns and cool down times, and a large number of them in one room make for a frantic and brutal fight, especially in the upper and lower areas. The boss monsters are all worthy challenges for the player with them having difficult patterns, and the only boss monster that is a bit on the difficulty spike side is the forest boss, Alexander for spawning many projectile firing skulls that quickly fill the area and the fire circle spell is pretty much required to defeat this boss.
The production value of the game is a refined 2-D sprite work presentation and the setting of the game is reminiscent of Castlevania with the castle at night and many Gothic monsters residing within. The use of 2-D sprite work is successful in giving each character the player plays as a unique feel to them through their sizes, names, perks and traits that go a long way in crafting a cute and charming individual knight. The VGM (Video game music) in the dungeons area use chip tuning along with modern instruments to create a old school feel to the level that conveys a mood of danger and preserving through the trial, especially the music in the castle area.
There are also tunes that are instrumental and the music for selecting the next of kin and the skill tree music create a mood of legends and lore that fits with the game’s premise of knights who are trying to conquer the same dungeon and pass their quest to their next of kin. The game’s music is one that will be subtly stuck in one’s mind as the calming guitar piece of the next of kin echos through the cerebellum.
Rouge Legacy stands as one the greats of the Rouge Like genre. It’s use of taking the elements of platforms and Rouge Likes and taking the feeling of mastery that platformers create through mastery of game mechanics and over coming challenges, and mixing it with the Rouge Like genre’s unpredictable nature that create a new and ever changing challenge and experience. It also sweetens the bitter punishment of Rouge Likes with the use of the skill tree and lock down system without taking away the challenge. The clever use of mixing two different genres are the secret to Rouge Legacy’s success, and is a legacy that one can uphold and pass down until the dungeon is finally conquered.
Fast Food Cultural, Rouge Legacy, Marcelo Wieczorek, 22/05/14