PS VITA – It seems that there are more and more games that has this retroish feel to it. Shovel Knight has already shown that it is indeed possible to create a classic, Castlevania-ish quality sidescroller game without much doubt. Here is another example, but this time with more jokes.
I have to state this right off the bat: this game isn’t made for technical fascination, so do not expect Rogue Legacy to have the latest adaptation of Unreal Engine 4.- but this isn’t a problem. What this game gives to you does not require a high resolution, just a touch of sense of humour, and some experience in platformer games. The latter one isn’t even necessary, to be honest!
The king of the castle
I’ll quickly go over the basics of the game. It’s a little funny, but easily understandable. There’s the Hamson castle, and here’s your character. You manage to get to one point in it, and you either die or beat the game. But when you die, it is permanent: RL will not let you choose that same character again, instead, the family tree grows down a bit more and you get to choose from one of the three heirs.
And this is where the luck factor enters: let’s say one character is stronger than the others (I mean it has more HP and MP), but in return, the whole game will be upside down – or as the game says, vertigo -, and it’s not a joke, it actually happened! Or she’ll get more mana, but will be bald in return. In this case, the game won’t say „building”, but „balding” instead. The game has plenty of jokes like this. Sometimes it even refers to other games, like the one called „Don’t Shit Your Pants”, which is a… survival horror game. I think. (I don’t want to spoil it, to be honest.)
So basically, it’s based on luck on what qualities will our next generation hero (or heroine) will have. Yeah, it’s likely that we will die quickly, but this is when the next interesting thing steps into the picture. The fact that we die doesn’t mean that we’ll lose all our hard-earned money. No, in fact, we can get to use it to upgrade the descendants, and in several ways to boot. We can hire a blacksmith in front of the entrance (this will never change, more on this later), who will make us stronger equipment… if you get the blueprint and some money.
We can also hire a guy who’ll make the castle exactly the same as we saw it in the previous generation, but he’ll take a 40% cut of the total money you get in this next round. The enchantress will help you tune up your mana. Or you can upgrade into a druid, raise your weight in order to be able to pick up better and heavier equipment, and so on… so I think I’m safe to say that Rogue Legacy is built upon some heavy RPG roots. Make sure you try to enter the castle with the LEAST possible money, because upon entrance, you’ll be stripped of all your remaining coins, whether it be five or three hundred. This effectively forces you to upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. So don’t forget to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND!
This whole thing not only raises the playability value, but the REplayability as well. It’s very surprising to see how complex Rogue Legacy is under the simple hood.
I’ll say it: albeit having seen a Castlevania-ish gameplay experience, the way the game doesn’t hold my hand at all (leaving the ability to discover things on my own, not stating where I have to go), well… that really reminds me of the 1986 game Metroid.
There are no rules: after entering the castle, we can go wherever we want, and do whatever we want. If we die – which is quite often in the beginning even if you’re an experienced platformmage -, it can be quite handy. With this method, you can just quit the game and come back later for the next segment, so to say. This is why I can only just praise Rogue Legacy.
Is it a PS Vita killer app?
No. I quite often mention that the game I review is usually not a PS4 killer app. This is the case this time as well, but I quickly have to add that this is a cross-play title. You buy it once, you play it anywhere, like on a bus on your Vita, and then continue on the big screen after dinner on the PS4.
It is worth getting this game. It’s a game with a great ambiance, and while it doesn’t really impress technically, it’s still able to bring things back from the past and create a great experience at the same time. But it is not an easy task. The 15 dollars, what Cellar Door Games‘ product costs right now is well worth it. Even if the PC version keeps showing Xbox controllers’ buttons for some reason…
+ Another great retro-feel game after Shovel Knight
+ Difficult, but you don’t end up thrashing your controller
+ Funny references and jokes here and there
– It could have been made earlier, technically possible
– Technically umimpressice
– Hindering skills randomy… is it a roulette family of some sorts?
Publisher Cellar Door Games
Developer: Cellar Door Games
Genres: 2D, Roguelike, Platformer, Action
Publication: 2014 June