Rogue Legacy is a game which does a lot with a simple concept. The game features gameplay very similar to that of old-school Castlevania games, with the characters batting through hordes of monsters whilst deftly hopping their way through numerous platforming puzzles in a large labyrinthine castle. A few additions to the formula make for an exceedingly refreshing take on the genre however, and make Rogue Legacy one of the most frustratingly entertaining “one more try” game released in recent memory.
The main premise of Rogue Legacy is that rather than playing a singular character, you are playing as a family. Each time you die whilst braving the depths of the castle you take control of the previous characters heir, and each one comes with a number of randomised alterations that can make some dramatic differences to gameplay. There are a number of classes that descendants can take on, each of which specialises in a different ability, at first fairly straightforward such as strength, speed or magic.
In a very unique and quite ingenious gameplay mechanic, descendants can also suffer from a number of disorders, all of which augment the way that character will play be it for better or worse.A character might be suffering from Alzheimer’s which disables the larger map from being viewed, ADHD which causes them to move especially quick, or even conditions that do not effect gameplay but change the game in funny small ways such as baldness, which removes the feathers from helmets and changes loading screen text from “building” to “balding.
Whilst in the castle, players can earn gold by killing enemies, as well as opening chests and destroying items in the environment. All money earned will be passed on to the descendant once the player dies. This allows you to spend some time at the beginning of your next life using that money to upgrade your character and unlock a number of additional gameplay features making you more and more powerful each item you enter the castle. Upgrades can take on the simple form of improving health or attack power, but also allow you to unlock brand new classes, or upgrade classes to give them unique abilities.
These additional unlocks just continue to add more and more variety to the gameplay and continue to add more interesting twists to gameplay. The player can also choose to spend money on armour and runes which allow you to customise your characters more fluidly at the start of each life. Armours all alter player stats in a number of different ways, and runes add additional abilities such as double jump or dash. You need to find blueprints for these items by completing especially tricky rooms in the castle, but once you have unlocked a good variety it allows you to make especially strong characters.