A roguelike is best described as a game where you have one life, and one life only, to progress as far as you can in the game without dying. Upon dying, you must start the game over from square one, typically losing all of your accrued items, progress and experience. If this sounds like an awful gaming experience for you, don't stop reading yet! Rogue Legacy, headed to the PlayStation 4 sometime in 2014, has all the fun elements of a roguelike while still providing some improvements to the genre to make it more accessible for newcomers. Make no mistake, Rogue Legacy is still a difficult game, but it's also an incredibly fun one as well.
Rethinking The Roguelike Genre
Rogue Legacy is a 2D, action platformer similar to titles such as Castlevania and Metroid. You'll explore a giant castle, seeking to do battle with the four bosses who reside in the four unique wings of the castle, in order to unlock and defeat the final boss. You'll jump, slash, downward-slash and more as you fight not only vicious enemies but the castle itself, which is laden with traps such as spikes and fireballs.
Chances are good that you will die, most likely in your first five minutes playing the game. Where Rogue Legacy rethinks the roguelike genre is that the items and gold you find carry over to the next character, which you can use to upgrade your base of operations and unlock extra health, attack power and various shops. Through these shops you can upgrade your weapons, armor and even give yourself special abilities, such as dashing or double jumping. So while you may die, and die often, you're slowly making your character stronger while progressing just a little bit further in the game every time you play. A single run never feels like a waste when you die as you're always progressing towards something.
There is just one restriction: you can't carry gold over from one playthrough to the next. Any remaining gold is taken from you as soon as you enter the castle, so purchase as much as you can before venturing back in!
Your Family Tree
In many roguelikes, you play as the same character every time you start the game. However, in Rogue Legacy, your new character is the offspring of the character before him or her, chosen from a pool of three potential candidates. While you initially start off as a warrior, capable of just hacking and slashing, future characters may be wizards, capable of attacking enemies at a distance, or a knight, able to block enemy attacks with his shield.
However, with the good comes the bad and each new character will have a number of built-in disabilities, called character traits. Maybe your character is twice his normal size, making it easier to get hit, or maybe his vision is so bad he only sees things in black and white. These disabilities had a challenging, but fun, aspect to an already challenging game.
Never The Same Game Twice
Like you would expect from a roguelike, the entire castle is randomized, presenting a new experience every time you enter its doors. There are times when certain rooms will repeat, but on the whole each time you enter the castle you'll never know what awaits you at each turn.
The four environments are always located in the same specific sections of the castle, so you'll always have a good idea of where to go to find specific areas, but every room in those environments will never be in the same layout twice. However, if you find yourself dead but really enjoyed the layout of the castle you were in, you can explore the same layout a second time for a small fee after unlocking a specific feature. Once again, Rogue Legacy rethinks the roguelike genre, giving an alternative to every complaint most people have.
Doing It Old School
Rogue Legacy harkens back to a time when games were about fun through both its graphics and humor. While the graphical style of the game won't push the PlayStation 4 to its limits, fans of 2D will find a lot to love here. The game is well animated, the colors are crisp and vibrant, and all characters are full of detail. The way your character runs, full of confidence with his sword pointing skyward and not a care in the world, gives you an idea of how the game presents itself. Expect original jokes along with jokes derived from other games, such as Goonies II and Skyrim, so even though you'll be dying (and dying often) you'll do so with a smile on your face.
Rogue Legacy, despite looking and feeling like an old school game, isn't something you're going to beat in an afternoon. Expect to put hours upon hours into this game to reach the end, as the game will hook you in with its icy tendrils and never let go. You'll find yourself saying “just one more run” well into the wee hours of the morning as you know that this time, you're finally defeating that specific boss you almost beat last time. Just when you think the game is over, New Game Plus mode appears, making the enemies stronger and upping the challenge even more.
While Rogue Legacy is clearly inspired by the roguelikes that came before it, that's not the only place it draws inspiration from. In an interview with Eurogamer, Kenny Lee, one half of the duo behind Rogue Legacy developer Cellar Door Games, explains how Demon's Souls played a significant part in the game's creation at an early stage.
“The super original idea came from Demon's Souls and Dark Souls - we wanted to make a 2D version of it. The very first version running had no procedural generation, it was all interconnected, it had treasure chests, you died and you started from the very beginning spawn point."
Rogue Legacy also takes inspiration from Spelunky, recently updated and released on the PlayStation 3 and Vita, with the aim to make Rogue Legacy less harsh in some aspects to make it more appealing to a wider audience. In this regard, they have definitely succeeded.
Rogue Legacy On The PlayStation 4
On the official PlayStation Blog, Teddy Lee, the other half of Cellar Door Games, gives us an insight into how the game ended up on the PlayStation 4.
“ Rogue Legacy had only been out for about 2 weeks before we were contacted by Sony, so we’re blown away by how fast they reached out to us. But Shahid and Shane have been great guys to work with, and we were able to get the a-okay to develop Rogue Legacy for all Sony platforms in a ridiculously short period of time. So yeah, go Sony!”
We've known for a long time now how much love and support Sony is giving indie developers and as long as these developers keep pumping out quality games like Rogue Legacy, Sony is making the right move.
But what about any PlayStation 4 exclusive features? Right now, nothing has been mentioned outside of the PS4 getting the exact game PC users have already been enjoying for some time. However, maybe we will see some features that got left on the cutting room floor make a return, such as the Mega Castle, a sprawling 1,000 floor castle that would provide the greatest challenge for any veteran Rogue Legacy player.
Rogue Legacy is currently out on the PC via Steam and the developer's own website for the low cost of $15. While no price has been announced just yet, you can grab the game on the PS4 on July 29th! The game is cross-buy compatible, so you'll get the PS3 and Vita versions for free with your purchase!
While it may not have the production values of a Call of Duty or an InFamous, Rogue Legacy will definitely be one of the standout games on the PlayStation 4 and one that every PS4 fan should download for their digital collection.
Let us know in the comments how you feel about Rogue Legacy and stay tuned to PS4 Experts for all your PlayStation 4 news!
Game Category: Indie
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 9/4/2013