Thursday, 15 January 2015

Rogue Legacy - Steam


So it begins, a legacy of dead characters.


The king was murdered; the betrayer stands within the castle and rules in his place, he is your ancestor. Something it keeping him alive and while he lives, the injustice remains rife. You attempt to right the wrongs that have been made to set order and balance back on the path of righteousness. The loss is more personal, your father went into the castle to resolve this issue and was never seen again, now it’s your turn as you leave your children behind and head to the traitor’s keep. Charon, agent of death stands before you and relieves you of your worldly possessions as you enter with but your armour and weapons and inside you step to continue the Rogue Legacy.

The only stable room in the set up

This is the gist of the game without giving too much away at first. It’s a platformer rogue-like and the rogue-like element here is that the cast you enter changes its layout each time (unless... you unlock the ability to keep it), and each entry into the castle will cost you your remaining cash but all cash found in the castle is kept for buying upgrades, armours, runes (empowering modifications) and the such. Within the castle lies a wealth of traps, monsters, mini-bosses, 4 main bosses and then finally (if you get this far) the last boss and a definitely final boss if we’re talking tropes at this point.

Select your sprog to go and die for your cause.

Much like games like Infinity Blade, we’re talking about generational progression. Your character, of whichever background (more about that in a moment) will be killed and stored in the gallery for all time. When you start hitting around the 40 lives lost mark, you begin to realise there’s quite an enormity behind losing. Not unlike the original Cannon Fodder which had tombstones for every single person lost in combat that would soon litter the level select screen.

Looks a bit crap, but later the castle will be quite a size with all unlocked items accessible

Each time you begin an attempt on the castle, you get to pick from one of three offspring of the previous attempt. Or basically a randomly generated set of characters which includes their classification, perks and demerits. Ranging from having Barbarians that have slim builds and more likely to be knocked back on a hit, to ninjas that don’t activate spikes because they lack a pulse in their limbs (it makes sense in context) to Paladins that are colour-blind, or longsighted (around you is blurring) short-sighted (around you is NOT blurry) to not being able to see incoming projectiles from off-screen and so on. It gives a very large pool of variation which can include being gay (a fan of the man/woman depending upon your gender and then makes one wonder how there’s a next generation... but I digress). This also includes the spell you will be taking with you ranging from throwing axes, knives, fireball walls, bouncing balls, homing attacks and more.

You died. And there's all the people you killed. Also, this one suffered coprolalia

As said, it’s a platform game, levels are randomly generated and each castle layout has the objective of killing 4 bosses and then the final boss to beat the castle before New Game+ is activated. The problem is you will die, a lot, and as a rogue-like you need to accept that fact and realise it is part of the game mechanic. Dying will return you to the HQ where you keep your cash from that run and can spend it on upgrades to stats, abilities, classes of characters, how much money Charon takes from you, unlocking new helpers that will give you new abilities and improving battle %’s for things like critical hits (if your particular class CAN do critical hits... Hokage, looking at you).

New equipment? Costs money. New runes? Costs money. Pattern much? Costs Money...

Graphically, the game is a strong call back to less serious looking platformers with plenty of cartoony styled graphics and animations (seriously, I love the hero’s running animation), monsters are sufficiently detailed with bosses really taking the biscuit on account of their size while scenery and backgrounds are lavished with those cute little nods and tips of detail that really bring the whole package together.

Spikes, Skeletons and monsters, oh my!

The music is select of a nice set of compositions, depending upon which area of the castle you’re in or if you find a juke box, there’s nothing overbearing or underwhelming and everything plods along at an agreeable pace while stopping short of becoming that ear-tick where you end up humming the same few bars over and over. It’s sufficient and fits the bill with some interesting use of instrumentals within the pieces themselves. The sound effects are diverse enough with your character having multiple sounds for being injured; spells and attacks use diverse effects to accompany their use.

Some of the locations are rather otherworldly, that's a huge moon too.

Overall it’s a fun game with a lot of replay factor though the random number generator can really stitch you up if you’re unlucky and have to play through multiple, horribly and awkwardly laid-out rooms. Sometimes you’ll die in the first few levels, other times you’ll die after a few bosses are beaten, but the random generation and the upgrading mechanic will keep players playing this for a long time. But not as long as it could have been, eventually there will be a point where insufficient progression will be made, where it’s impossible to continue on with the game and there’s nothing left to attain or unlock and then it’ll wither away because everything’s been done and there’s too much focused direction for the player to hold onto, the game being more rogue-like than rogue leaves it satisfying for a while but eventually unfulfilling.