The first Rogue Legacy won the hearts of many roguelike fans with a clever twist on the genre that saw failure go hand in hand with progress. And almost a decade later, Cellar Door Games not only faces the weight of expectations that comes with creating a sequel, but also competition from the title army inspired by its roguelite formula. Far from moving to pressure, the developer has created a great sequel that revives the series with fresh ideas, while at the same time expanding on what made the original so enjoyable in the first place.
Once again, you take on the role of a random hero tasked with navigating procedurally generated castle levels. That castle is a grueling gauntlet filled with tough enemies to defeat, difficult obstacles to overcome, and precious gold to steal. If – or rather when – your hero reaches the bottom of his health bar, you will quickly get in the shoes of his descendants. Any gold you have stolen from your previous attempt to spend on a permanent upgrade is yours to give you a better fight chance this time.
All the remains were explained in Rogue Legacy 2
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At the beginning of each race, you are given a choice of three characters from a number of classes that cannot be unlocked. Older people like the Knight and the Barbarian are welcome, mixed with new options like the fast Gunslinger and the Spear-wielding Valkyrie. The classes come with their own stats, weapons, talents and passive abilities, making each class unique. The barbarian, for example, takes advantage of increased vitality, and his victories, Winter’s Cry, freeze enemies in their place, resulting in a catastrophic attack on an ax.
One of the most unusual and fun new additions is the Chef class. Not only can you cook a nice stew to replenish your health, but your reliable flute can deal with burnt damage and incoming projectile deflection, resulting in a deadly ping pong game. However, some classes are much more effective than others, and I found myself going from the least useful ones after giving them a few spins. Due to the lack of a multidirectional aim for spells the mage class was on the sidelines most of my time with Rogue Legacy 2.
Members of this heroic family tree can come with all sorts of personality traits. The players of the original book will remember them because they add bristles, both good and bad, to your character. Some of them are a pleasant distraction, like the characteristic of methemoglobinemia, which turns your hero’s skin into a nice shade of blue. Others, like the pacifist – who carries a peaceful flag that cannot damage your enemies – can make the game unplayable.
I chose Knight with Vertigo, hoping he would get a little dizzy while facing a high slab, only to find that the trait turns the whole game upside down. Needless to say, the race was short. This fun hack adds a layer of difficulty (or ease) that makes every effort feel like overcoming the castle. Even when your quest is hampered by the worst, they add a lot of humor to the routine.
Each level has its own visual style. Things start out in a traditional castle, and at later levels you will have to explore a beautiful snow-covered environment and a beautiful studio full of magical platforms. During your journey you are threatened by a relentless crowd of enemies. These come in as many shapes and sizes as you do. Some fill the screen with lethal projectiles, while others want nothing more than hitting you in the head with a powerful melee attack.
You are not just enemies; Levels are a maze of platforms filled with dangerous obstacles, such as spiked pits and flame traps, which require careful timing and patience to overcome. Later levels introduce original threats like Nightmare, an orb that releases a quick projectile at you if you try to attack anywhere within its vast aura. It’s a fast and extremely fun game, and despite being beaten often, I couldn’t wait to try it again.
The original pixel graphics of the original have been replaced by a sharper, hand-drawn style, emphasizing the whimsical inhabitants of the game. But the heirlooms are the highlight of Rogue Legacy 2 family lore. Once found, these handy trinkets release navigational capabilities, including double jump and air jump that allow you to reach previously inaccessible places out. In addition to adding a delicious metroidvania element to the game, this expanded move gives you more avoidable options for avoiding enemy damage and other hazards.
RPGs do a lot of repetition, by their very nature, but Rogue Legacy 2 goes to great lengths to make sure it never feels like an attempt. The upgrade system offers numerous and varied upgrades that add more than just boosts to your stats. You can also spend your hard-earned gold to unlock new classes, merchants, and game-changing upgrades such as Architect and Adoption Center. The first allows you to part with a percentage of your money to prevent the layout of the castle from changing between games, while the second increases the number of heirs you can choose from. I was eager to see the exciting new improvements that were available, which I often felt at times with the expectation that my hero would fade away.
Rogue Legacy 2 does not deviate much from the formula of the genre, but it does what every good roguelite should do: lure you back into the game. You will set one game and realize that you cannot release the controller when you reach the normal death screen. Instead, you choose another heir, I promise you that this time you will conquer the castle.
The latest game from Cellar Door Games is among the best of the genre he helped create. The gameplay is challenging and entertaining, inspired by a satisfying progression system, just as absorbent as the first time. Improved graphics, character choices, and delightful scrolling capabilities mean that this sequence not only lasts until its predecessor, but far surpasses it.
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Added to the Rogue Legacy family and one of the best roguelites yet.