Review: Rogue Legacy

This is a long-overdue review of sorts, and it's pretty brief, but we're making an effort here at Silicon Sasquatch to share whatever valuable insights we can with you about the games we play. Enjoy!

I figured Rogue Legacy would be a solid homage to the Metroidvania genre with a nice, difficult twist, but it goes so much further than that. With its compelling progression and customization systems and an excellent use of randomization, Rogue Legacy is a clear and definitive step forward for the genre.

Any action-platformer game hinges on the player developing a set of reproducible skills -- learning how to read a room, confront enemies and chart a path through treacherous territory. Later Metroidvania games like Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Metroid: Other M shied away from this and instead emphasized character empowerment and customization to the point where base skills like dodging and timing became almost unnecessary. Rogue Legacy deftly solves this problem by randomizing every room on each playthrough while also forcing the player to accept a unique set of strengths and weaknesses on each play session thanks to the game's hereditary system. After a couple hours, the player starts to understand the logic of the game: how each region works, where the greatest challenges are, how to chart a path through the castle and how to compensate for unexpected adversity. It's a brilliant example of a game that teaches the player a difficult and complex system at a steady pace over dozens of hours of play.

The castle setting, breakable candelabras and emphasis on clever jumping ought to look familiar to any Castlevania fan, but Rogue Legacy infuses some much-needed progress into a tired, old formula

The castle setting, breakable candelabras and emphasis on clever jumping ought to look familiar to any Castlevania fan, but Rogue Legacy infuses some much-needed progress into a tired, old formula

If you haven't played Rogue Legacy yet, there's probably never been a better time to check it out: the PC version has been updated with new bosses and the game recently launched on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Vita. If I were going to jump in at this point, I'd strongly consider the Vita version – the pick-up-and-go nature of the game makes it a perfect fit for the handheld.

If you're a fan of Metroidvania games or a fan of challenging action-platformer games, you're more than likely going to get your money's worth out of Rogue Legacy. But if you appreciate dissecting and understanding great game design, Rogue Legacy is absolutely essential.

Rogue Legacy is developed by Cellar Door Games and is available on PC, Mac and Linux as well as PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Vita. The reviewer purchased a copy on Steam and played the Windows version for 22 hours. He did just about everything you can do except, well, finish the final boss. Which is probably not actually possible, and anyone who tells you otherwise obviously just has something to prove.

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