How Metroidvania is it? Low Fit. While the Castlevania elements are all there, it's primarily a rogue-like first, with Metroidvania elements.
Primary Challenge: Melee Combat
Time to beat: ~10 hours
Review Info: Rogue Legacy was played on Steam.
Buy Rogue Legacy if you like…
- Addictive Rogue-like powering up
- Subtle referential humor
- Emphasis on time spent rather than skill obtained
- Forced variety in gameplay
- Neat thematic ideas
▼ Review continues below ▼
Rogue Legacy takes Castlevania and adds permadeath and a randomized castle… Sorta. Your basic weapon attack is almost always going to be this overarcing swing, so it lacks the limited variety of weapons that SOTN had, and the incredible variety that the DS Castlevania games had. But, as you progress and die, you unlock different “Classes” you can play which offer slight variations on this overhead swing swordplay, all of which are fun twists on the familiar gameplay.
That is the game’s main mechanic and draw – it expects you to die – and thematically your children continue your quest into future generations until you make it to the end of the castle. Each child has a genetic quirk that you either benefit from, or more often have to deal with. This range from silly things like turrets syndrome where your character lets out swear words every time they get hit (Censored swears mind you), to game changers like walking on the ceiling. The game forces you into making difficult choices with these quirks by limiting your options to three, some of them having classes that you may play better with but combined with traits that you would rather avoid. It’s a great mechanic and definitely a good draw that I would recommend.
The castle too, while random, is well designed. The metroidvania format actually works really well for Rogue-like elements. Each room is designed so it could function well as its little mirocosmic sampling of metroidvania level design, and then these rooms are cobbled together to form the castle each time. Occasionally rooms hold important secrets like a blueprint for a new piece of equipment, so it might be frustrating to come back to the castle looking for such rooms and not having the luck for them to appear. However the game does let you pay to keep the same level format you had on the previous visit, so this frustration is mitigated by great options.
Because Rogue Legacy does its unique features so well, it’s a fun game. But by design it’s a grind. It may be possible to beat the game on your first playthrough (videos on youtube prove that), it’s probably not feasible for a normal player. Dying only makes you stronger, and this Obi-Wan approach to the game’s challenge mitigates it immensely. In addition, good level and character design aside, there isn’t a lot to see from a story standpoint or even from a boss design standpoint. To really stand out as a timeless classic – to really be pushed from “Good” to “Great” – I think this game needed a little more “Oomph” with its challenges and thematic elements with the castle and enemies itself. And, because the game doesn’t really end in any satisfying payoff, you might end up like me and play it twice just to upgrade some more – only to find out that the charms wear off with a sad wimper because there was no bang.
But even with that said, I really liked Rogue Legacy, and I recommend it for someone who is looking for a nice relaxing low consequence game to play.
Combat is basic, and challenging, though that challenge is mitigated by the ''Strike me down and I'll only become more powerful'' theme of the game
The Random castle does have some cubes that provide platforming challenges but it's basic
Although the castle is random, there are rewards for traversing old zones again
Some power based puzzles to unlock spells
Thematically the game is great, but it left me with a feeling that a lot more could have been done with the narrative
Cartoon style is fitting for the tone of the game and its mechanics
Effective and Catchy
The addictive gameplay and wide variety lends to replayability, but the lack of challenge is a detractor
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