Although it was released last year on PC, "Rogue Legacy" is an indie title worth keeping an eye on. The "Castlevania"-like platformer dominated my Twitter feed over the summer, and it piqued my interest when a PlayStation Vita version was announced for 2014. But why wait for the port when I could play the original on my desktop?
For the uninitiated, Cellar Door Games' "Rogue Legacy" puts players in the role of a knight, or rather a family of them. The first in the line treks to Castle Hamson, where he searches for a cure for an ailing king. The knight hopes that the heroic effort would curry favor with His Highness. Inevitably, over the course of the adventure, the player will die.
And that's where the premise gets interesting. In "Rogue Legacy," death is permanent. Once the knight dies, the player picks his heir. The descendant can be a man or woman. He or she can have random traits such as irritable bowel syndrome, which causes uncontrollable flatulence, or gigantism. More importantly, the heir may be from a new warrior class, such as a barbarian king or a shinobi, each of which has a distinct playing trait. Whatever the case, the new hero takes up the same mission.
At the beginning, "Rogue Legacy" can be punishingly difficult. It's a platformer that requires quick-twitch skills as players dispatch foes and explore the castle and its three major surroundings. Enemies are vicious, and weak heroes do little damage against them. Over the course of succeeding generations, however, players will build up a manor and use gold to buy armor or abilities that are passed on to successors.
After a few hours, players will notice that they're dominating monsters that they were having trouble with before. This palpable sense of growth is the draw of "Rogue Legacy." Through hard work exploring randomly generated dungeons, players will gain gold needed to help the next heir; at the same time, they will hone their gameplay skills. During the campaign, there are points when a player will wonder if it's the power-ups or expertise that's making the difference in their success.
Finding the answer to that question is part of the addictiveness of "Rogue Legacy." The game will keep players hooked, even if they're screaming in frustration and surprise them with the random tidbits and secrets hidden in the world. Couple that with a quirky sense of humor (the ridiculous traits are part of the fun and challenge), and this platformer is an indie gem that players won't put down.
Let's hope the ports are as good as the original.
* * * ½
Rating: Not rated by the ESRB