Rogue Legacy is part Castlevania, part Dark Souls. Much like the Belmont family, players are entrusted with a cursed castle. When players die, a new heir will rise up, taking on the form of one of three classes. For example, a Paladin is a well-balanced class whereas a Shinobi is fast and strong, but has low HP. There are changes to genetics as well, which can range from color blindness, dwarfism, or even a trait that flips the world upside down. Most curses are silly rather than damaging to the gameplay.
As a side-scrolling action game, the main goal is to play through the four areas, destroy the bosses, and then proceed to vanquish the castle’s lord. Every playthrough is randomized, presenting a new layout to the map unless one pays an architect to lock down that last grid. While random, there is a set amount of treasure like diary entries, mini games, and special chests to collect that, when found, will be scratched off the to do list.
A family castle acts like a skill tree, which can raise various stats like HP and attack power, unlock new classes, or other various bonuses via gold. It can also be used to buy new equipment along with runes, which can grant special abilities like a double jump, or air dash. The game is challenging, but the constant collection of gold will keep players feeling like they are accomplishing something in death.
Mechanics aside, this game looks great. The pixel art brings out the best in the world’s design from the heroes to the monsters. Everything pops with that retro funk. Music is unfortunately not as nostalgic as one would hope from a 16-bit style game. It’s not bad, but nothing memorable comes to mind either. There is a story via diary entries, but it’s very light. It’s more about experiencing the world through playing rather than lengthy exposition.
Rogue Legacy is an amazing treat that was great on PC, but better on the PlayStation family especially on the PS Vita. Pick it up, play for a few minutes, put it down. Aside from a few minor gripes, there isn’t much to dislike. It’s a masterpiece that welcomes all, but rewards the best of players.