We all have grown used to seeing new roguelites and roguelikes popping up on Steam and inevitably on consoles sometime later. But there was a time when the genre was just starting to emerge until the vast pool of titles we know nowadays. I’m not saying there weren’t examples of this before, though, but I’m sure the most recent wave was lead by one particular title: Rogue Legacy.
Yes, I also started with The Binding of Isaac, but Cellar Door Games’ take on the genre felt different and refreshing when it came out. The premise sounds like your usual RPG at first: there’s a curse storming the castle and affecting the royal legacy, and you are the only one who can try to defeat all the new inhabitants that roam the place. The game is set in a 2D perspective, mixing combat and platforming elements. So far so good, right?
But the most interesting aspect is that your character changed every time. Like, actually changed. They all started with unique traits, advantages, and disadvantages.
Some might be tall and have a huge HP pool, while some might be small and weak, but capable of sneaking into secret places that the rest of their antecessors couldn’t. Others can turn the entire screen upside down, shout curses when they’re hit, present colorblindness or dyslexia, and so on. There are a lot of possible outcomes and they can really shape up the experience, while some are so utterly useless that are mostly a walking joke until they meet their demise.
But before you get to choose the character for a new run, you’re introduced to the huge skill tree in the game, in which you can spend your hard earned gold into upgrading health, magic or abilities of all characters, along with unlocking new subclasses, such as the barbarian or the shinobi.
And they also have different armor sets and weapons that you can craft with a blacksmith whenever you find a new blueprint for it. There are a lot of systems involved in Rogue Legacy, always under the premise of offering procedurally generated levels in each run through the castle, with four unique bosses to tackle in each zone of the castle before going for the last fight. But it all sounds way too familiar now.
Visiting the game on Switch is a decent throwback. Playing in handheld guarantees a sharp and neat image overall, and the joy-cons adapt without a problem, although the game already had controller support since the dawn of times. And in docked mode, everything works as intended.
Rogue Legacy still maintains that initial sense of humor and challenge, along with many robust mechanics that still hold up. But after all these years, the surprise value is gone, and that’s probably not a bad thing depending on what you’re looking for by revisiting the game.
There are enough enemies, things to unlock, challenge rooms and secrets to find pretty much everywhere, and while it may sound easy to beat only a handful of bosses to reach the end, I can guarantee that it’s gonna take a long time for your characters to have enough skills and stats to endure longer in the hardest zones of the game. It’s still fun overall and you can tell how the design was impressive back then, so it’s all worth for nostalgia purposes.
If you’re part of the group that never played Rogue Legacy before, it can be worthwhile to jump on this for the sole purpose of having a laugh with the legacy system and all the crazy characters you can obtain. Everything else might not feel so unique, especially to those already used to the genre, but it’s still a decent port with a lot of content waiting for you.
A copy of Rogue Legacy for Switch was provided by the studio for review purposes. Make sure to visit the official site for more information.