All I know about this game is that it's supposed to be ridiculously difficult and that someone thought it was worth gifting a copy to me just so they could watch me suffer, so I imagine this is mostly going to be screenshots of me getting my ass kicked on the first level and crying.
Though you won't actually see the crying part show up in the screenshots.
Okay I get that I'm supposed to press 'X' to attack, but uh... there's no monsters here. I'll need something to hit first before I can get my violence on. Wait, you don't suppose it wants me to kill the King do you? The final lesson is how to commit regicide?
Castlevania series, it's that nothing but pain awaits anyone dumb enough to cross an ominous video game drawbridge. But look at my hero marching around with his sword held high, he's so damn stoked to get in there and start slashing at things. He'd be gutted if I didn't at least pop inside and cut up a couple of skeletons.
Man, this room looks really familiar somehow, like I've been here before in another game. Even the way I can crack the candles open for coins is giving me deja-vu. Wait, I think I know what it might be reminding me of...
|Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PSX)|
Rogue Legacy is slicker than Symphony though and I'm able to get around a lot faster; it doesn't feel as sluggish or heavy.
Oh wait, maybe it's not Symphony I was thinking of at all. Perhaps I was actually thinking it looked like the castle in Superfrog...
But how does Rogue Legacy compare to Superfrog? Who even cares?
There's an open door on the right of the entrance hallway I'm in and I'm going through it.
This room sucks, I'm going back to the entrance!
My minimap shows that the room is surrounded by three other exits, so maybe I can run in, quickly drop down, then escape out through one of the other doors at the bottom before the blood tear bullets can even catch up.
If that map on the back wall shows how the castle is laid out and those dots by the name refer to the difficulty level, then I'll want to be heading right towards the forest and absolutely positively not down and to the left.
Still, I had a good run I think: I made it three rooms into the castle and earned 20 coins.
I've got three characters to choose from here, each with a different randomly generated class, trait and spell combination. Like Lady Blair here has the Dwarfism trait, which gives her a disadvantage when it comes to getting onto rollercoasters, but presumably also gives her the benefit of being really hard to hit.
It seems that Charon (the mythological ferryman of the dead himself) has decided to charge in advance these days, seeing as death is pretty much certain for anyone who steps inside the castle. And the toll is... every bit of cash I have on me. I don't just mean he charges 20 gold, I mean he strips you of every bit of cash you have in your account and leaves you absolutely penniless.
So it seems that if I want to buy anything from the shop, I'll have to raise all the cash I need in a single trip. Bummer.
Also, this is an entirely different room than last time I was here (there's no eyeball spraying bullets at me for one thing.) It seems that this is your standard auto-restructuring chaotic demon castle, just like Drac's place in the Castlevania games, except I skip ahead to the next arrangement each death so I get an entirely different procedurally generated layout every time I visit.
Annoyingly everything he has to sell has a weight to it, so I also have to keep paying to upgrade my carrying capacity if I have any ambitions of equipping decent gear.
The game defaults to making me press down and attack together to activate the down-attack move, which seems sensible enough but makes it even more of a pain in the ass to get right in action. Fortunately there's an option to make it so that pulling down alone is enough to trigger it, which works so much better I have to wonder why the other option even exists. I'm still not dumb enough to actually attempt this though.
SEVERAL TRAGIC LOSSES AND TWO CHARACTER UPGRADES LATER.
In fact this game is a Metroidvania style game all over, though there is one big difference I've noticed: the enemies stay dead when I kill them, at least until my dude's untimely death and the arrival of his heir. So it is possible to make large areas of the castle safe to travel through.
I've got a pretty good idea where that door up there in the background leads, and I want none of it. Because I am a coward. Also I'm having trouble just holding my own against regular enemies right now and I'm not exactly at full health; a boss fight would destroy me instantly.
At least I get to keep the items I buy, unlike the money, so I have a real incentive to spend everything I have before re-entering the castle. But if I spend the last of my cash on cheap upgrades, that just pushes the expensive upgrades even further out of reach. It's a cruel cruel system.
SEVERAL LEVELS LATER.
Okay that purple star thing is a stationary turret firing off bullets at a constant rate, so if I'm mindful of it and don't blindly throw myself in its line of fire I'll do okay. The red mage on the other hand is an immediate threat as he's targeting me directly with three fireballs at a time. So I need to dodge the fireballs, run forward and take out the star turret, then close the remaining distance on the mage and take him out as well before he starts firing again. Hopefully they won't take more than a couple of swipes each or else I'll need to move my ass elsewhere before it gets set on fire.
And then finally there's the rubbish knight, which just stomps around being useless, attacking any hero careless enough to get in his range. I might try taking him out with a few of those bloody down-attacks on his head once the others are dead, as I really need to practice the timing.
Of course once I take a few steps forward the screen might scroll across to reveal one of those ice mages, who shoots off icicles in a circle, or a spearman who fires a wave forward along the ground, and then I'll just have to adapt on the fly. Either way my main priority here is to avoid getting killed by the rubbish knight, as that'd just be embarrassing, and it only takes a few mistakes to end a run.
FOUR UPGRADES LATER.
What I found was variations on the same enemies I've been fighting up to this point, only with supercharged attacks and way more health. They can take off over a fifth of my health with every hit and I can barely scratch them! Even if I was skillful enough to last more than 10 seconds down here, it doesn't seem like I'd have much fun killing any of these guys with my current gear.
The website claims that "Every time you play you get a little stronger. Never back to square 1." which is kind of misleading as it makes it sound that even a shitty run will get you an upgrade, when it actually requires a fair bit of skill to survive long enough to scavenge the amount of cash required during a trip. If you aren't getting better at playing the game you can't just grind to success.
It doesn't actually get bullet hell like this as much as I've made it seem; most of the floating wizards I've found only fire off a few easily dodged projectiles and they're easily dealt with as long as I don't take on too many at once and get overwhelmed by projectiles. Each of the enemies seems really well designed actually, with predictable behaviour and visual and audio tells to indicate when an attack is coming. This means I can hear bullets coming in from off screen, and they've even given me little markers on the edge of my vision to let me know from which direction they coming. Plus I can see a reasonable distance around me so I've a fair chance to dodge and with my new movement upgrades I'm actually fairly good at it.
Oh plus did I mention I've got magic attacks of my own? I barely use them so I keep forgetting they're there, but I've got Castlevania style special attacks powered by mana. Though like my health the mana comes in a very limited supply and the enemies don't drop refills.
You know, I can't turn this off until I go get a picture of that boss, so I should probably stop screwing around and just get it over with.
Of course this guy would turn out to be a giant version of the eyeball that shoots blood teardrops at me, who else but my oldest nemesis would be facing me behind the boss door? Luckily it's easy enough to learn his routine and dodge his bullet attacks as long as you're not entirely inept, then you just hack away at him in the moments in between.
Still, I actually slayed a good few enemies that time. The trick to it seems to be to equip gear that gives a tiny bit of health back per kill. It's the only real way to support a lengthy run in this place, as the castle is really stingy with the health items.
Well I could turn the game off now, but I think I'll make one last run. Just one.
I bet you're the real last boss aren't you? I bet you'll be waiting for me behind that big yellow door ready to spray waves of deadly custard pies my way.
The game started off in the year 760AD... it's 3013 right now, a full millennium into our future. If my maths are right that means that around 75 of my heroes have fallen so far, and hundreds more will fall before this castle is beaten. But I'm not going to fall for his schemes any more, I'm ending this right now, by walking away.
So what did I think about Rogue Legacy? Well it was fighting an uphill battle from the start to impress me as 'ultra-difficult', 'no lives' and 'perma-death' aren't features I generally look for in a video game, but the challenge isn't actually unreasonable once you've collected a few upgrades, and as they carry over so each new character is basically just an extra life for the last, just with a different class and traits. So it's actually more like a procedurally generated Castlevania game in practice, and the castle can even be locked down to prevent it from changing. You don't even have to finish all the bosses in one insanely badass run, as once they're dead they stay dead forever (until new game+ that is).
To be honest, the hardest struggle I've had in the game so far is turning the damn thing off. I'm hopelessly addicted to it right now. Gotta keep trying to get a little further to get just that little bit more money and grab the next upgrade.
The game is a whole bunch of good game design decisions tied together with imagination, dumb jokes, excellent controls and great presentation. Consider it recommended if anything about it seems even slightly appealing to you.
And just as suddenly as it began, the writing stopped. But if you want to add some more of your own text underneath and share your opinions on the game, my writing, this site etc. then you're welcome to leave a comment in the comment box.