Rogue Legacy Review – PC

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Rogue Legacy, the most recent game from Cellar Door Games, is a clear winner at pretty much everything it tries to do. From its strong core gameplay, a combination of Castlevania-style exploration and combat with the aesthetic and feel of Super Ghouls and Ghosts to the upgrade system and variety of character classes and traits, it’s a remarkable success for the small team that, to this point, had remained fairly obscure.

The game starts off with a simple enough tutorial, but as soon as you have a grasp on how to move around and attack, you’re sent to select your heir from one of three children. You start with few options, either fighters, knights, and barbarians, and a variety of traits, ranging from obsessive-compulsive disorder to irritable bowel syndrome, each of which has some effect on how your character operates, whether unhelpful, useful, or just trivial.

As you brave the game’s randomly generated dungeon, you’ll find gold, runes, and armor blueprints and work towards killing boss monsters. Exploring the castle is secondary to the pursuit of ever more potent gear and character traits. Still, that’s a good thing. There’s a wide variety of options as to how you explore. Will you equip runes that enhance your mobility, to better access the chests, or vampiric and drain runes to help you survive long enough for further dungeon crawling? Will you prefer dwarf heirs to get you through tunnels that may provide loot access at the cost of reach in combat? Will you play a spelunker for far greater map awareness at the cost of practically all your other stats? Rogue Legacy manages to hide a broad array of options behind the relatively simple and incredibly addictive dungeon crawling.

By the end of the game, I found myself taking spelunkers whenever I could find one, and barbarians or giants otherwise, hoping to either plunder the castle and give my future characters better chances, or just get lucky and kill the boss with what I already had. While there’s a limit to the amount of content you can discover in the dungeon, Cellar Door did a great job of maintaining the excitement of discovery for a long while.

There are, of course, the fairy chests, which require you to complete challenges to open them and get runes to customize your gear. But aside from that, there are just as many that exist just to reward exploration with interesting little bits of content, or less permanent benefits. There are journal entries from a fellow adventurer scattered through the castle, detailing the thoughts of another adventurer on the same path you took, minigames, even galleries with paintings of Cellar Door’s previous games.

These in particular are fascinating, exhaustively detailing the history of early projects, and the teams’ thoughts on how they went. Many of the anecdotes end with a sense of melancholy, and of the team’s hard work unrewarded, which left me glad that Rogue Legacy seems to have successful, still riding on Steam’s top sellers list almost two weeks after its release.

It’s a remarkable game. While a bit light on content (which is certainly understandable from a small indie team), it’s designed to get its hooks in you, and never let to. Easy to pick up, and hard to put down, Rogue Legacy is a great success, and the only major problem I find in it is that I end up wanting more branches of the dungeon, more character classes, spells, and enemies, which, really, is just a sign of how strong the game is.