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Rogue Legacy Review

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Cellar Door Games initially released Rogue Legacy, their rogue-like platformer, to the PC masses back in 2013 and then onto Playstation a year later. Now, 12 months on from the Sony release, Cellar Door are back and bringing their randomly generated castle platformer to Xbox One. Has it transferred well to Xbox One or is the excessive randomness just too much for the casual player?

Your goal is to take control of a sole Knight as you explore a castle filled with randomly generated rooms containing random bits of treasure, filled with random platforms to negotiate and frequented by random enemies to kill. In fact, it’s all a bit random. And that’s as much its downfall as it is its unique selling point.

For casual gamers who are just after a bit of fun will find that Rogue Legacy is a tough old nut to crack…and even when you do crack it, you’ll find the unarranged, undirected gameplay just a tad too uncompromising.

rogue legacy attack

Other than having to find and kill four distinctly different bosses, as much as I’ve tried to find a story behind Rogue Legacy, I can’t for one minute care to understand what is going on. My first hour or so with the game saw me die more deaths than I thought possible, whilst the next one teased me into further playthroughs with the delightful calls of numerously teased upgrades, before then sending me on an ever increasing arc of desperation and soul killing hatefulness.

You see, with Rogue Legacy, your playthrough with the game seemingly lasts forever. If you die, you quickly find yourself back in control of another Knight – the offspring of the deceased in fact. Any money you may have earnt is available to spend in The Manor, at the Blacksmiths, with the Enchantress or with the ever friendly Architect, before you head back into the Castle once more to earn discover more cash.

And that’s about all there is to the game. Or at least all I’ve managed to discover.

If truth be told, I’d be surprised if many actually managed to make it through that far as whilst the learning curve isn’t particularly steep. You’ll have to be able to acknowledge that death is par for the course and it’ll only be after many hours or grinding away, leveling up the rooms in the Manor and buying new swords from the Blacksmith that you’ll finally start to find something worthwhile.

rogue legacy traits

Thankfully, the random nature of the game doesn’t just extend to the rooms of which you’ll be exploring. Cellar Games must be congratulated on injecting a huge slice of humour into Rogue Legacy, with the rather manic skills and attributes that you’ll find each and every Knight afflicted with. You may attempt one castle run through with a Knight who has OCD tendencies, needing to smash everything and anything in order to raise his MP, or another that has been hit by a bout of Gigantism, making you seemingly too large to even make it through half the rooms on offer. If that isn’t good enough for you then a personal fave is picking a guy who is troubled by vertigo, seeing the entire land switch upside down. It’s these unique little twists that make you want to carry on through the tough times that Rogue Legacy brings.

If you do manage to battle through, amassing coins as you go about your thing, then you’ll be able to spend that cash on upgrading your home, The Manor. This gives you the chance to upgrade your health points, your mana points, or elevate your lowly Knight to Barbarian, Shinobi or Assassin level, amongst others. It’s this part of the game that is the most rewarding and ensures that at times you’ll continue playing just so you can unlock the next stage of your home. The Manor also brings about the chance for you to visit the Blacksmith for extra weapons and the Enchantress for extra spells. You’ll have to find blueprints or runes first though and the ever changing landscape of the castle ahead of you makes this pretty slow progress.

The third NPC, the Architect, however allows you to lock down your favourite castle (normally the one you’ve found the most gold in), giving you the chance to explore the rooms a little more and this is perhaps the only way that unhurried progress to the four bosses is ever going to be obtainable. The caveat to that however is Mr Architect costs cash…40% of your earnings in fact! However, that’s nothing compared to the ‘entry fee’ of the castle itself. If you haven’t spent your cash in the Manor or with any of the three non-playable characters that reside just outside, then you can be sure that the dark evil Charon will take any leftovers prior to your visit…unless that is you manage to upgrade your Manor enough to ensure death himself doesn’t quite take everything you’ve earnt!

rogue legacy tree

It’s about then that you need to find numerous hidden chests, fairy rooms (special rooms that pay out a huge amount if you can abide by its rules!), or the real big enemies in order to have a huge windfall, unlocking further traits and skills. The enemies themselves are fairly decent additions as well, with everything from standard knights, ghostly flying firey eyes and flying demon-possessed paintings all out to inflict as much damage on you as possible. Manage to find one of the big bosses though and it won’t be long before you see yourself setting out on your quest once again; they are extremely hard to kill!

Rogue Legacy is a cleverly worked game that just needs a bit of love. The controls are mostly tight and precise (something which is essential for a fast paced platformer), but the occasional attack with your sword is sometimes off, meaning there are times when you’ll find yourself dying at the most inopportune moments. I’ve also got slight issues with the control scheme, in particular the use of the frustrating down-attack move. But that aside, Rogue Legacy is a decent enough game for those ready to battle and spend some time with.

Prepare to work at Rogue Legacy and you’ll find something pretty rewarding and due to the massive expanding skill tree, something that is very long lasting. Just be aware, if you’re not fully enthused then those first few hours may turn you away for good.

Neil Watton
Neil Wattonhttps://www.thexboxhub.com/
An Xbox gamer since 2002, I bought the big black box just to play Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee. I have since loved every second of the 360's life and am now just as obsessed with the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S - mostly with the brilliant indie scene that has come to the fore. Gamertag is neil363, feel free to add me to your list.

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TwinspectreGaming101
TwinspectreGaming101
9 years ago

cons : tough ? wow this is why modern games are dumbed down and filled with handholdy , now i know Xbox players are casuals , this is what gaming used to be and thanks to xbox fanboys we have dumbed down , casualized and handholding trash these days

xbox gamers are not ready for gaming

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9 years ago

[…] Neil Watton (neil363) Cellar Door Games initially released Rogue Legacy, their rogue-like platformer, to the PC masses […]

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