Rogue Legacy: Ameteur review

This game is Super meat boy meets roguelike meets Metroid-vania, and if you're a fan of any of these you owe it to yourself to pick up this one. It's immediately clear that Rogue Legacy has been made with a lot of love and respect for its influences, and the developers have a great appreciation for solid game mechanics backed up by habit forming replayability. The game oozes style and creativity, rewards skill, punishes complacency and keeps you coming back for more.

The premise of the game is quite simple: You need to get through a big, randomly generated castlevania-esque dungeon because of reasons. Your family's dynasty is entrusted with the said task of getting through the castle, and each playthrough starts with your choosing from one of three randomly generated descendants of the family, each of which is assigned a class and up to two random personality traits. These traits add a lot of colour to your characters, and significantly alter the way you play. They can be useful, such as the ability to ignore enemy knockback or spine traps, and they can also be downright punishing. Vertigo, for instance, inverts your controls and turns the game upside down. Youch.

Don't get attached, though, your character is not going to last long. The dungeon is dangerous and unforgiving, and it's only a matter of time before your character is either impaled on a set of spikes, eaten by a nasty monster or incenerated by magic. Happy joy joy though, because then you get to do it all over again, in a new randomly generated castle with a new randomly generated hero! Play enough, and you'll start to see the same faces return down the generations, with an added number to let you know how many Rick's you've gone through over the generations. It's great seeing your personal faviroutes return. My personal faviroute, and last playthough hero, was with Lord Dude III, a barbarian king with gigantism and dyslexia. Like his great-great-great-great-grandfather before him, he served with honor and brought great wealth to the family!

Upon losing each game, all the gold you accumulate with your hero is passed down to the next generation. Barring the door to the dungeon, however, is Death, and he wants a cut. All of it, infact. So before you start each romp into the dungeon, you have to spend all that cash! Fortunately, the game provides ample location to spend said inheritance. Enter the family mansion.

The mansion is the true persistent character of the game. It confers permanent bonuses to your heroes, and is upgradable in many ways. Your gold is yours to spend as you see fit, and you can invest in your mansion in many ways. Focus on melee heavy heroes by purchasing damage and health upgrades, or perhaps go magic heavy and focus on upgrading your mana and magic. And as you expand your mansion, you expand the ways in which to focus your characters, or even unlock new hero classes. It's an interesting system, with plenty of ways to cater to your favoured play style.

Unfotrunately, it's not perfect. Although the mansion is great in theory, the actual bonuses are extremely stingy and feel far too undertuned against the imposing dangers of the castle. Add to that the cost of upgrading skills, which increases more and more as you play, and the entire process becomes somewhat grindy. This feels like an intentional choice by the developers, one which I personally feel is a little too tailored towards extending the game experience. I can't fault the system, just the numbers the system is producing. My mansion is currently level 79 and I'm finally starting to make some progress through the dungeon. But I've got a long way to go, and many generations will be sacrificed to get me there.

There's also a shopping area where you can purchase equipment and tailor your character with equipment unlocked through exploring the dungeon. You can also slot up to 5 runes (one for each piece of equipment) into your character which significantly affect how your character navigates the dungeon. Double jumping, thorns, dashing, mana leech, you can pimp our your chosen hero and play upon his strengths or shore up the classes weaknesses.

The actual combat of the game, and the meat of the dungeon delving, is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. A solid playthough (usually 10-20 mins is a good run) will net you enough gold to purchase a few new upgrades to your mansion, and theres a constant feeling of progression and you are able to push just that little bit further or explore one of the new areas inside the castle which kicked your great-great-great-grandfather's ass 30 minutes ago. The dungeon itself is separated into 4 key areas designed to be tackled in order but completely open to exploration to the more ambitious (and crazy) hero. Scattered throughout the dungeon are chests filled with valuable loot, bosses, mini-bosses, carnival fair games, challenge rooms offering rune unlocks for completing them in a specific fashion, the list goes on. And every corner of it is brimming with nasty monsters and traps trying (and succeeding) and passing the responsibility of the quest down to the next generation.

It's challenging but rewarding, and if you can get apast the grindiness there's an absolute gem to be found here. As soon as you finish your latest attempt, the game wastes no time in getting you back into the action with the next playthough. And at only $15 (AUD) on steam, you're getting a hell of a lot of entertainment for your buck.

 

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