Budget Gamer: Rogue Legacy Skillfully Keeps It All in the Family

Rogue Legacy title screen

Ever since failing epically at every Super Mario platformer, I’ve resigned myself to never being able to enjoy platformers again. But that all changed when I tried Rogue Legacy, an epic game from an indie developer in my hometown of Toronto, Ontario, Cellar Door Games.

It is definitely not your average platformer since it has purchasable upgrades in a tiered tree, and a dark backstory that creeps up on you. There are hidden mini games, a small handful of puzzles, and randomized maps, not to mention randomized “rogues” so no replay is ever exactly the same!

Despite the fact that I suck at anything that requires timing (hence not liking platformers), Rogue Legacy had all the right elements to keep me entertained and motivated.

The game starts with a simple story of a kingdom in trouble because its king was the victim of an assassination attempt, and the only cure for the king is a secret within a magical castle. Could be a Disney movie! And you get to play the hero!

Be careful!

As the eldest prince, you take it upon yourself to pursue the magical cure using your awesome skills as best swordsman in all the land. But what’s this?! You’re only human and will perish from touching any of the castle’s traps or monsters too many times?! Well, you only have the one life so that’s a problem, but what you also have are sons and daughters to help you get the job done!

Choose your heir!

And (almost) just like real life, each successor comes with their own randomized abilities and traits! You might be a miner (get more value for the gold you find) who’s stereo blind (can’t see in 3D), has dwarfism (smaller sprite) and also has ADHD (faster movement). Or maybe an assassin (can sneak past obstacles by turning into mist) who’s bald (yeah, just bald), has vertigo (game is played entirely upside down) and eidetic memory (can view a more detailed map than usual). There are 31 traits, seven different base classes, and ten different spells that can be randomized and mashed together to alter your character and change your gameplay experience. Exciting!

Build your own castle!

But wait! Those seven classes and ten spells are only what you start with! By putting money into building your villa — aka upgrades tree — you can make the base classes more powerful and even gain access to new classes like the shinobi and spellsword! You also need to purchase the blacksmith if you want to forge better equipment, the enchantress if you want to use runes on your equipment, and the architect if you don’t want the stage to be randomized for your successor. Unlike most platformers, Rogue Legacy also has RPG elements thrown in so you have an HP and MP pool, and both can be augmented by building your villa.

He wants your money!

This would all sound pretty easy if you could just save up all the gold you fought very hard for, but that’s where Cellar Door Games cleverly throws in a well-planned wrench. Every time you want to enter the castle again you have to get past Charon. And Charon moves (or vanishes with an evil cackle) only if you give him ALL YOUR LIFE SAVINGS! Good thing there are ways to upgrade your villa so Charon will take a smaller cut! Maybe that extension on the west tower gives him a nice evil lair away from the Styx?

I have yet to beat the final boss in the game, and there is a lot of grinding involved, but I enjoyed every bit of it! The way the maps and characters you play are randomized really gives replayability a huge boost. Rogue Legacy definitely rescued platformers from my “No Way, No How” list! It was especially fun to play with a friend, as watching them dodge and fight their way through tight situations will keep you at the edge of your seat, and the length of time each heir is likely to stay alive is just short enough to keep observing/backseat-gaming entertaining. I also highly recommend playing it with a controller, but what kind of platformer is better with a keyboard?

You can purchase Rogue Legacy from their official website with Paypal or Google Wallet, on Amazon, Desura, Gamersgate, Good Old Games, OnLive (PC & MAC compatible!), or Steam for $15 USD. There is also a demo you can download!

Have you played Rogue Legacy? Did it change your platformer experience forever? Or do you have another platformer to recommend that is actually better on a keyboard? Let me know in the comments below!

Carmen loves many a mobile device and enjoys gaming on almost all platforms. She often likes to binge on anime, as she finds it the most fulfilling type of entertainment. Except for HBO. And perhaps her pet hedgehog. Her answer to life's most pressing issues? "There's an app for that." To see her silly life in pictures: @kuety on Instagram