Rogue Legacy 2 is finally out on Xbox; a game that many have been eagerly awaiting since picking up the original Rogue Legacy. Each game uses the same “genealogical” character generation which means that after each run your character’s child succeeds you as the next playable character. Each time this happens, unique traits are generated and assigned, along with a character class that dictates their weapon and playstyle.
Every run takes place in a randomly generated castle, filled with enemies, breakable objects, and challenges to overcome. Six Estuaries, or bosses, inhabit the grounds and it’s up to you to defeat them. And these bosses are tough. Scratch that, the entire game is tough.
Thankfully you can combat this by being good enough to collect gold throughout your run that you can use to upgrade your castle. These upgrades add new characters to the starting area, improve your stats, and unlock new character traits. This is much of the same when compared to the first game, but Rogue Legacy 2 manages to take all of these mechanics and improve on them.
For starters, there are more character classes now and each class has been built out to be a more unique experience. Combat and movement change based on which class you choose, which helps make the system feel more flushed out. The chef class for example has a frying pan that can deflect projectiles back at your enemies. The gunslinger class has a rapid-fire gun that does massive damage from medium range. The boxer class gets up close and personal to devastate enemies with a barrage of punches. These are just a few examples of the many classes there are to choose from.
I won’t say it’s a perfect system. Some classes feel incredibly overpowered compared to others, but you have the option to choose from one of three characters at the start of each run so you can usually find one you want. There is also an upgrade that allows you to reroll the options, making it even easier to find the ones you want to play.
The exploration system of Rogue Legacy 2 is also vastly improved compared to the first game. There are now more areas and they’ve even introduced metroidvania mechanics. In the first game, dash upgrades and extra jumps were a result of unlocking runes through Fairy Chests. These are special rooms where you need to either fight enemies or navigate some kind of puzzle or challenge. Doing so will open a Fairy Chest that has special runes or items in them for you to use in other runs. These make a return in Rogue Legacy 2 as well, but the double jump and upgraded dash are now a part of the main story instead of optional upgrades.
Even the death screen has seen an overhaul that is incredibly satisfying to watch. It essentially tracks your progress through the run, showing which enemies were defeated where and what path you took until you died. I love this. It’s such a rewarding visual experience that it drives you to want to do better. Overall, the improvements to gameplay over the first have been entirely positive.
Rogue Legacy 2 is a highly addictive and challenging game that is easy to sink hours into. It helps that both the visuals and sounds are just as engaging and fun to experience. The music is never overbearing – in fact the music that plays when upgrading the castle is super catchy – and the visuals are clean and fun.
There are only a couple of negatives to speak of. The most prominent is that the game does get a bit grindy. This is mainly an issue when rushing to fight a boss once you complete the steps to find them. Instead of fighting enemies, you’ll want to try and save your health so you can fight the boss without a disadvantage. The downside to this is you won’t be making nearly as much gold, so after dying it’s easy to end up with nothing to spend. Castle upgrades do get pretty pricey which means even an okay run might only result in a single upgrade.
Obviously if you’re great at the game, this won’t be an issue for you. This is addressed a bit through a new mechanic called “House Rules”. These were introduced to make Rogue Legacy 2 more accessible. With them you can control enemy health, damage, and so on, to create a tailored experience just for you. Now I only turned those settings on to get a quick achievement and I think it detracts from “my” experience when I make things easier. But for people who are busy, have younger kids, or are just looking to relax, I can definitely appreciate what these settings offer.
This is by no means a statement that all games should have an easy mode, for example, Elden Ring should stay just as challenging as it is and I will tell you to “git gud” if you disagree. But Rogue Legacy 2 is a silly and fun game that doesn’t suffer from an easy mode.
There are a couple of other nitpicks, like I wish you could fully skip the boss intro cutscenes instead of just speed them up and some classes are just less fun to play as I previously mentioned, but those don’t ruin the experience for me. Those are really the only complaints I can think of off the top of my head though.
Rogue Legacy 2 is a fun game that incentivises variety. The different character traits can come together and make truly unique runs that don’t feel repetitive. It has much of the charm and quirkiness that made the first game so fun, and it vastly improves many of the unique mechanics that drew me into it. It’s a great game for any fan of the roguelite and metroidvania genres and I can wholeheartedly recommend it.
Rogue Legacy 2 is on the Xbox Store