Rogue Legacy 2 is a roguelite action platformer developed by Cellar Door Games. You play as a bloodline of heroes bound to cross the Stygian Waters and defeat a series of bosses in order to liberate a kingdom.

Killing enemies or opening chests earns you money, and each time you die, you’ll be able to spend that money on permanent upgrades. The world and its challenges are semi-randomly generated each time you die as well.

You’ll have to choose an heir to your bloodline after each death, each with a randomly prescribed class and different traits. The classes each come with their own weapon, ability, a spell, and unique stat bonuses and penalties.

Each class plays significantly differently mostly due to their weapons, which will change your approach to combat. A ronin will carefully stab from a distance, while a bard is better off bouncing off their notes near an enemy. On top of this, you can get class variants later in the game, including one that lets you fight using pizza, which is just fun.

There are half a dozen unique areas, each with their own aesthetics, music, puzzles, secrets, enemies, difficult levels, room layouts, and room generation patterns that make each part of the game feel distinct. The basic castle layouts of Citadel Agartha give way to the deadly water and tall buildings of Axis Mundi, and these shifts manage to avoid too much repetition.

Once you defeat a boss, that boss stays dead, and your next heir’s life can be spent on a different boss. The game’s permanent upgrades and the ability to defeat one boss at a time means almost any player will eventually be able to complete the game, whether from honing skill or just hoarding health upgrades.

Nonetheless, the game can be harsh. Enemies surround you and shoot projectiles just far enough apart that you can technically dodge them all with your combined platforming and combat abilities. It’s exhilarating to jump, bounce, and dash around your enemies, constantly on the edge between destroying them and restarting your run. This is the game at its best: tense, sharp platforming with smartly placed enemies that force you to pay attention.

Frustration is a part of the game. Non-random platforming challenges will appear as rooms, and you’ll fail some of them if you get hit a single time. Certain classes take time to learn, and it can be frustrating to die while you begin to learn the 15 classes and their additional variants. The bosses do big area attacks for tons of damage and challenge you to dodge precisely.

But I honestly respect the frustration as a part of the design. If you see a fireball coming, you can’t just dash through it. You need to precisely block it, dodge it, or use an ability to phase through it, and then counterattack, and failing to do that makes you want to improve.

The stylized 3D graphics are cohesive and animated in a snappy, appealing style. The music gets a bit repetitive when you keep losing in a certain area, but it’s fun to listen to. And the story is better written and more emotive than it had to be for this kind of game.

I haven’t even mentioned the unlockable platforming abilities, upgradeable equipment, runes, the random per run items that cost equip weight or else cut into your max health, or the monetary reward for adverse traits. There’s a lot of stuff in the game, but it all ties neatly into the core of getting money, dying, and growing in power.

When I found out there was a sequel to Rogue Legacy, I felt like I’d seen everything I needed to in the first game. I’m glad I was wrong. If you hate action platforming roguelites, this one isn’t going to change your mind. However, if you enjoyed Rogue Legacy 1 or like the sound of a precise and varied stat-building roguelite, this is worth playing.

Rogue Legacy 2 is available now on PC and Xbox consoles for $24.99 with a 20% launch discount.

Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Rogue Legacy 2.

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