Rogue Legacy Review

Jason Waddell

Administrator
Staff member
FWIW in terms of theoretical games a Mega Man roguelike ranks pretty highly on my mental wishlist, alongside a Jet Set Radio / Skitchen hybrid racing game.
 
I haven't played Rogue Legacy, so my impressions of it are completely based on your observations.

But it sounds as though you may enjoy a romp through the no-hand-holding abattoir that is Dark Souls by From Software.

In Dark Souls you are dumped into a world that once exhibited signs of civilization but in the ruins are nothing but wild things and the damned whose idea of a good time is introducing strangers to sharp objects and fire - some may even sell such things to you although in time they too will go insane, which goes to say the game doesn't waste your time with plot or dialog although it is certainly there if you choose to look for it. Your character's vocabulary consists entirely of "Yes", "No" and screams of agony and the NPCs are incredibly colorful and the voice acting is actually the best I've ever heard in a game.

The interface is like post-SNES Zelda: third person lock-on combat in a relatively open world and dungeons filled with various environmental hazards such as: traps, total darkness, invisible floors, poisonous floors, lava floors, and so forth. Stopping at a checkpoint restores your life, spell charges, and sense of safety but at the cost of reviving everything you have murdered in the world. When the player dies, they are returned to their most recent checkpoint with all their equipment as if they had just stopped there (enemies respawned) and they leave a corpse behind at the place of death, which contains all their "money". If they die before retrieving their corpse, a new corpse will be produced to retrieve but the previous corpse will be lost along with all the money on it. While this system may sound hideously draconian (and it is), it serves to encourage players to spend their money and/or exercise a bit of caution/skill before crossing the street into uncharted and unfamiliar areas bloated with cash because if the traffic doesn't kill you, the floor certainly will and take your money.

Money is spent at checkpoints to buy the typical medley of stats: strength, dexterity, vitality, etc.; magic trainers, and shopkeepers peddling equipment and consumables are scattered throughout the world. The player's level is tied to their stats. So if one has 25 points tied into a variety of stats they will be level 25. One hero can have high strength or high intelligence but if both have the same total number of stats, they'll be at the same level. A threshold of a certain stat needs to be achieved to use better equipment such as strength for heavier weapons and intelligence for magical spells. Here's the important part: stats have relatively very little impact on your performance as a mass-murderer compared to your ability to dodge and only strike at optimum openings. Stats mostly grant the ability to pick up the nastiest weapons and wield the most destructive sorceries, which is what actually matters and the game distributes at appropriate intervals in the game. Like Zelda, better weapons will be accessible as one progresses play through the game but unless the player really knows what they're doing (or cheating) that sword/axe/spear isn't going to get any better and the player can grind for money and buy a billion (max: 255) stats and get to level billion and that boss is still going to wreck face unless you GET SOME SKILL. To push the emphasis on skill, it is very possible to beat the game almost naked, at level 1, using an entry-level (thrice-forged, titanium-plated, and lightning-enchanted) club studded with nails. You could beat the game with a stock club (it would take forever) but there's one boss that is somewhat on a timer, which demands a certain damage output and speedy execution before you are overwhelmed by the inevitable dogpile. I'm not saying that is unnecessary to upgrade your weapons and armor because it certainly helps but there certainly is the option to get through on what you currently have and overcome bosses through study of their behavior.

There's an interesting mechanic within the game that allows the player to summon other players like yourself to assist you with bosses and/or the level leading up to the boss. This is balanced by the fact that if the player wishes to summon aid, it also exposes them to players who instead of wanting to help you, wish to invade your world, and kill you for really no other reason than it's (really) fun killing other players. This is all optional and can be turned off simply be turning off online capabilities. Offline and online play you will sometimes be able to summon NPCs to aid you. It's not really necessary to go into much detail about this feature here because it has little relevance to what you're looking for in a game.

There comes a point in repeated playthroughs where you will certainly have to grind money and make smart stat allocations to achieve marginal improvements in yourself and your weaponry but on your first playthrough it's going to be mostly on you and I recommend not consulting a guide on your first playthrough as it greatly diminishes the experience by not overcoming the challenges yourself. You can start as a mage, dump all your points into intelligence, but half-way through if the magic isn't working for you you can easily pick up a sword and get chopping.

There's no saves. When you quit, you will start exactly in the same state where you left off. You can't save, use your one-use fancy ore to upgrade that weapon, not like it, and load to before you used that ore. That ore is gone and you'll have to find some more along with the money used to upgrade it. This is really only relevant because unlike most other games, you can kill NPCs including shopkeepers. There's no "I think I'll fire a spear-sized arrow at George the Blacksmith's head for laughs and reload" because that's arrow is going to connect and (you're all undead already) so he's going to come at you arrow-in-face until you kill him. And when he kills you, he's still hostile. And when you kill him, he does NOT respawn. So there's no reloading the game to a point where he's happy to sell you those arrows in an alternate universe where you didn't fire one at his head. There's a way to pay for forgiveness, but just take my one hint that you should (in your first playthrough) never take a swing at the NPCs. Also, it sometimes is important to listen to what the NPCs have to say as they don't repeat themselves often.

Enjoy! Or don't.
 

Jason Waddell

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks! I'll probably pick it up next-time there's a Steam sale. I had heard good things about it, but didn't realize it ever got released on PC.
 
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There's a way to pay for forgiveness, but just take my one hint that you should (in your first playthrough) never take a swing at the NPCs.

Important note: There are some NPCs that you are very much going to regret not killing.

No, I will not tell you which ones. It should be fairly obvious if you're paying attention.

EDIT: I just realized that this thread started in 2013, and that Jason has probably tried Dark Souls if he was going to.
 

Jason Waddell

Administrator
Staff member
Important note: There are some NPCs that you are very much going to regret not killing.

No, I will not tell you which ones. It should be fairly obvious if you're paying attention.

EDIT: I just realized that this thread started in 2013, and that Jason has probably tried Dark Souls if he was going to.
I played through about half of it before deciding it wasn't really my genre.
 

Jason Waddell

Administrator
Staff member
I'm not surprised, given what other games you're into.
I think by this point the only single player games I touch are roguelikes and Forza games. Sometimes I dip my toe in a story/campaign based game, but they rarely keep my interest.

That said, Doom Eternal was good enough for me to buy the DLC for.
 
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