Review

Rogue Legacy Review

  • Game release: June 27, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • PS3
  • VITA
  • PS4

Rogue leader.

What will your children inherit when you die? Your house? Your debts? Your sweet record collection? The PlayStation port of Rogue Legacy has inherited its PC parent's engaging exploration and combat, mixing some of the best elements from games like Spelunky and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night to create a fusion that makes each individual play session feel distinct while also giving you a satisfying sense of progression. It may not have gained much in the transition, but Rogue Legacy is still as great as it always was.

Rogue Legacy drops you into a randomized castle that's very reminiscent of Symphony of the Night, not only in its map and exploration style, but also in combat basics, in the feel of the movement, and even in its many enemy types. You jump and slash your way through a 2D map with a sword and a variety of secondary weapons (including an ax that's thrown in an arc), fighting the likes of skeletons, flying skulls and sword-wielding heavies in bulky armor. Obtaining the ability to double jump or dash unlocks further exploration options, allowing you to find better chests that yield better loot. Rogue Legacy is far from a cheap Castlevania knockoff, but the inspiration is clear.

Pausing the game won't save you, it will just identify all the things about to kill you.

One of the main differences between the two games is that death is permanent in Rogue Legacy. When you die, you're done, and you must start a new adventure at the beginning of the castle next time around, though certain aspects remain constant. (For example, the forest is always on the right side of the map.) You don't collect much in the way of items or weapons, but when you die, those are gone too.

When other games in this vein talk about permanent death, they really mean it. You start over from square one, and you carry absolutely nothing with you. But in Rogue Legacy that's not entirely true. Any items you collected or enemies you killed are lost, yes, and the castle will be different the next time you enter it. But all the gold you collected stays with you, passed down to your child as an inheritance. You can spend that gold on equipment, buffs or permanent stat upgrades that persist with each run through the castle. So while you're not playing as the same character throughout the game, you're still getting stronger every time you play. Admittedly this can make the early parts of the game somewhat tedious, as you probably won't be powerful enough for certain enemies no matter how skilled you are at dodging attacks. On the flip side, that same grind provides a way for less skilled players to eventually brute force their way through even the toughest bosses.

How do you want to die? Spikes, a zombie, or a giant sword?

It's this careful balance, this mix between steady progression and permanent death, that makes Rogue Legacy so enthralling. Each run feels important, because you will only see the end of the game if you can take out that next boss that you're struggling with, and you just know that this is the run, this is the time that it will all come together and you'll come out the other side alive. You've memorized the attack pattern and perfected your jump timing, so that boss is going down. But if you fail? If you fall to the castle's creatures before even reaching the boss? It wasn't all for nothing. A little piece of that character's legacy will live on, and you will carry better stats with you next time because of it.

But even though your base stats will carry on, each child--each new character you send into the castle--is still different, at least to a point. Every time you start the game, you are presented with three random descendents to choose from, and they vary in class and traits. Classes are your typical role-playing fare, with options like the barbarian, a class with a large amount of health, or the assassin, who is low on health but has a higher chance of critical hits. Traits are a little different, as they're random attributes that could have wildly different effects--or no effect at all--on how that character operates. Many traits are clever even when they make gameplay more of a chore, such as having a hero that is colorblind (thus making the game black and white) or a heroine who is a hypochondriac, which makes the damage numbers spilling from your character exceptionally larger than their actual value. Other traits are more pointless and even sophomoric, such as the I.B.S. trait that makes you fart randomly. Still, these neat elements of randomness help mix up the individual playthroughs.

Kids, this is why you don't do drugs.

All three PlayStation versions of the game (PS3, PS4 and Vita) are virtually identical, with the Vita version only missing out on one ultimately pointless feature, a trait that induces "random muscle spasms" and makes your controller vibrate. All three are wonderful versions of the game, though the text on the Vita version can be blurry and hard to read at times. They also contain extra content that was added to the PC version after its initial release, including new traits, new rooms, and, most noticeably, remixed versions of the game's bosses that provide a good challenge to anybody who seeks them out. Rogue Legacy supports Sony's cross buy and cross save features, letting you pick up your saved PS4 game on your Vita with relative ease.

It's almost unfair to compare Rogue Legacy to other games that emphasize permanent death. It doesn't have the secrets of Spelunky and it's more predictable than The Binding of Isaac, yet at the end of every game comes a desire to hop right back in, spend your gold on some upgrades and rack up more monster kills, something the game encourages with a challenging new-game-plus option that appears after the credits roll. Whether you play it on your home console or on the go, it's worth exploring Rogue Legacy's castle again and again and again.

The Good
Accessible yet challenging
Compelling sense of progression
Good balance of nostalgia and modern design
Classes allow for different play styles
Randomized character traits add diversity and silly appeal
The Bad
No real variety in melee weaponry
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Rogue Legacy

About the Author

Britton Peele fell in love with Rogue Legacy when he reviewed the original PC release for GameSpot in 2012, in part because it tugged at the strings of his Castlevania-loving heart. He finished one full playthrough and a bit of new game plus, switching between all three PlayStation platforms throughout.

Discussion

38 comments
jerusaelem
jerusaelem

This game goes from fun Castlevania-esque roguelite to irritating Ikaruga bull donks in under 30 minutes. Literally. That's how long I had been playing before the game saw fit to drop 5 eyeballs, 4 fire mages, 4 ice wizards, floor spikes, 2 turrets, and a handful of those annoying painting monsters in the FIRST room I entered. There was maybe one square inch on my screen that was safe at best, and that's being generous. I'm all for a good bit of challenge, but 37 projectiles firing at your face before the screen even fully loads is nonsense. I may not even mind that at one of the later stages in the castle, but that was seriously the first enemy room I came across. I want to enjoy this game, I really do, but it's mostly just irritating.


If you're a die hard fan of Ikaruga-esque dodge-em-ups, Rogue Legacy is for you. If you're looking for a fun Castlevania style dungeon crawler you're better off spending your money on an old, beat up PS/Saturn and digging SotN out of your closet. 

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

I really dislike most platformers, and I'm not usually into the rock hard games, but Rogue Legacy is brilliant. Definitely try it when it's for sale on Steam!

PinchySkree
PinchySkree

Seems odd a game loses 2 points for just melee weapon variety.

keabrown79
keabrown79

I want this but i'll wait for it to be free with PS+ to pick it up :)

chibistevo
chibistevo

Was okay for a while, but it kinda had Spelunky syndrome, in that for some people, it gets old real quick, even if you're a fan of roguelike. There isn't that desire to play for fun, like Isaac. And dose running animations *facepalm*


Still, having this on Vita might be worth the while.

sakaixx
sakaixx

awesome ! psvita and ps4 cross save feature is seriously the best thing sony has came out ever, now I can finish my game wherever I'm at !

shureshot24
shureshot24

Just bought it yesterday. Was one of those games I missed out on when it came out. So far its pretty amazing. I've been playing it on my vita (because what else am I gonna play on it) and it hits all the right marks. Sure its kinda grind heavy but it always balances that out with tight challenging gameplay, constant class changes and character progression, and randomized levels. So at least grinding is fun.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

I'm guessing this just came out on PS3, PS4 and Vita or something like that since there's already a Rogue Legacy review for the PC.

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

good but its kind of old now and there is nothing new for it like dlc or anything. Yesterdays news I guess

Hurvl
Hurvl

"Kids, this is why you don't do drugs" Oh great, thanks for telling me that. I was wondering why you shouldn't do drugs, but couldn't come up with a good answer.

Ahiru-San
Ahiru-San

I love this on Steam (ahem, oh well guess what ANOTHER steam game on PS4….) and playing with a controller is the way to go…


gonna wait until this is free for PS+ subscribers or at least get a nice -% off, just for trophies...

warriors30
warriors30

I always thought of this as a Dark Souls 2D. If you're looking for a challenge (and don't mind dying a lot) this game might be for you. 

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Just a warning to anyone who merely looks at scores: this game is grinding-heavy.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Sargus 

Weapons and items gone when the player character dies?

Are you sure? I have seen someone's playthrough where the next hero/heroine inherits his/her predecessor's gear.

I do know that the next hero/heroine retains the options for the gear, but I don't recall seeing the player buy and re-equip gear.

BrunoBRS
BrunoBRS

my only real issue with the game was how the attack could feel a bit clunky. otherwise, fantastic game.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

This is one of my favorite games on PC. If it interests you at all you won't be disappointed.

NIkoscho
NIkoscho

@PinchySkree even games without minuses arent 10 its not just about whats its written in the good and bad sections

jerusaelem
jerusaelem

@PinchySkree Games don't default at 10 and then drop point for point based on their shortcomings. If that were the case, there would never be a game over 5/10 and even that would be pushing it.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

@PinchySkree You must be new to how game reviews work.  Or to the internet in general.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@PinchySkree 

When you see the player character swinging a sword for the thousandth time, you won't find it odd.

Also, for a game which has many classes for the player character, all of them still use swords when they are romping around; only the Half-Dragon does things a bit differently.

There is the impression that the game-maker could have put in more effort to diversify them further.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

@sakaixx It drives me nuts that they don't require this for all games that can be played on all three platforms.  I'd buy everything on PSN if they did.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@sakaixx 

If you would say that, do demand more of this feature in other games on Sony's platforms. ;)

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

@Ahiru-San It's currently part of the PLAY 2014 promotion:  http://blog.us.playstation.com/2014/07/22/ps-store-play-2014-4-new-games-big-discounts/


All the games are cross-platform for each of the 3 Sony systems, and you get a store credit bonus that scales up for each game beyond the first that you buy.  Not an AMAZEBALLS deal, but one that I was happy to take advantage of.


I got 3 games (9 games if you're silly and count each platform version as a game) and $6 in PSN credit for $40.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

@warriors30 That's actually a pretty solid comparison.  Except for the randomized levels.

raiden3788
raiden3788

@Gelugon_baat It's not. When you die you lose almost everything, so you can't grind your way to progression. You need to make successful runs to get upgrades, that get more demanding each time you upgrade anything. You do play the same "level" again and again, (even though it's randomnized) but you can't stockpile your success. It's like a time trial in a racing game; each time you either improve your run, or you accomplished nothing.

Buckhannah
Buckhannah

@Gelugon_baat

Duly noted, though depending on the game I don't mind doing some grinding.  I have this game on my mind, but my next download is the Phantom Breaker beat 'em up.  Some day though, I'll need to try this out.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@Gelugon_baat Not really.  Grinding and exploring are one in the same.  So it's exploration heavy, which is always good.

Xenro4
Xenro4

@Gelugon_baat Yes but the grind is central to core gameplay, unlike other games where it would make more sense to mention this.

Xenro4
Xenro4

@Gelugon_baat @Sargus You do keep all your gear after death. The items you sometimes find in the dungeon disappear.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@raiden3788 

I will concede that Rogue Legacy's grinding (I will still call it grinding) demands considerably more skill and thought on the part of the player compared to some other games (JRPGs typically), but its gameplay is still based on what would soon become routine to the player.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Thanatos2k 

Do elaborate how grinding (which is a repetitive act) can be the same as exploring (which is checking out an area for the first time).

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@Gelugon_baat @Thanatos2k Because the levels are randomized.  You explore them new each time.  And by doing so, you find money and items and stuff.  Which is the grinding.  They are one in the same.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

@Gelugon_baat @Thanatos2k Because the levels are randomly generated so you're constantly checking out areas for the first time while looking for loot.

Rogue Legacy More Info

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  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 4 more
    • PlayStation Vita
    • PS3
    • PS4
    • Unix/Linux
    Adventure through a dangerous, ever-changing castle with generation after generation of brave, strong, and flawed heroes.
    8.1
    Average User RatingOut of 198 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Rogue Legacy
    Developed by:
    Cellar Door Games
    Published by:
    Cellar Door Games
    Genres:
    Roguelike, Platformer, Action, 2D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    All Platforms
    Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence