Rogue Legacy 2 is an action adventure, platform, rogue-lite video game that released for Early Access on August 18th. It was developed and published by Cellar Door Games. Currently it’s a PC-only release that can be found via Steam or Epic Games. It is a highly anticipated sequel to one of my favourite video games of all-time, Rogue Legacy, which released in 2013 and introduced me to the roguelike genre. I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy on release day, and today I wanted to chat about my overall first-impressions of the game.
So far I have sunk approximately ten hours into Rogue Legacy 2 and my current impression of this title is that it is absolutely fucking incredible. It takes almost everything that I adored about its predecessor and honed it into a masterpiece of roguelike gaming. From the character traits to the way gold is handled to the lore and storyline—everything thus far has been a brilliantly enjoyable and highly engaging ride.
My favourite aspect of Rogue Legacy 2 are the characters. One of the best narrative elements of this franchise is that is has genealogical people in it. So, every time you die, the next character chosen is the heir of the previous character that you played with. All of the individuals that die essentially make up the length it takes you, the player, to amass victory in the battle that’s going on. In Rogue Legacy 1, they lined-up all these folx at the very end and it was super creepy so see how many lives it took to beat it, but also pretty mind-blowingly fantastic narratively speaking. The same thing applies here. If you’re a storyteller or fan of RPing like me, then minimising those deaths becomes a big part of the way to play the game. This is a lot of fun and adds a subtle air of dimension to the tale that truly makes Rogue Legacy so phenomenal.
Another thing that helps to immerse the player in a fully-interactive experience are the character traits that each man, woman, and human are given. When the Character Select screen pops up, there are three individuals at a time that the player can pick from (there are far more than three types or classes). Usually they are of different classes with various special moves or powers. For example, on my last playthrough, I got to choose between a Barbarian, a Ranger, and a Mage. I usually go for the fighting classes (Barbarian or Knight) because they are whom I feel most comfortable playing as. When deciding on which person to choose, I also take a look at their Traits because this will determine what kind of playthrough I shall have.
If I choose a Barbarian who has the trait Vertigo, then my screen will turn upside down when I enter the castle grounds. Some other fun traits include Puritan where all the baddies are censored out via pixilation; Diva where there’s a spotlight on the character and when a room is cleared of baddies, roses are tossed at the player for a fine performance; and (one of my favourites) Nostalgia, which adds a Sepia-coloured filter, so everything is in brownish, faded, and slightly grainy visuals. If you ever forget what your traits are, more so if they aren’t obvious ones like the few mentioned here, then you can pause the game and visit the Profile tab. All of the information for the current character can be accessed there.
Gold in this game is more interesting because instead of all your excess gold going to Charon as a toll to get back into the castle, a small percentage is deducted and placed in a safe to be used later on for purchasing skills. It’s also used as a safety net in case if the player decides they forgot to upgrade a skill and wish to return to the skill tree screen to do so. Basically, it’s a sort of “tax.” There are a few other taxes that have been added, which I liked a lot because it gives more value to the gold that is accumulated during each playthrough, and also encourages the player to try and have longer play sessions to maximise their financial gains.
Small details, such as the way gold is handled or the addition of new secret abilities, truly help Rogue Legacy 2 to feel more thoroughly crafted and better fleshed out rather than a simplified husk of playing, dying, and starting over again. It feels like the developers really listened to the folx who loved Rogue Legacy and took their time to build a game that the players feel is worth the monetary investment with the improvements that we all wished for.
The last thing that is positively delightful in the sequel is the story. We learn the truth of what happened in Rogue Legacy by coming across journal entries that are scattered throughout the castle and also by defeating the bosses (their names are clues), including the final boss. It was an excellently intellectual experience without being outrageously convoluted. In this title, it follows the same route where players come across journal entries and one other very special element in order to decipher the story of what is happening. But this time, each entry has so much more personality and humorous creativity to it that makes the game feel far more entertaining. The symbolism has me chuckling quite a bit, but that’s the beauty of the game’s sense of humour. Again, it’s a small detail that comes together with other minute qualities to formulate an overall fantastic gaming experience.
Things to keep in mind, more so if you’ve never played a roguelike or if you haven’t played this franchise before, is that the maps are randomly generated. So, the blueprints and layout of the rooms and monsters shall be different each and every time. Also, because the game is an early access title, the full berth of features and gameplay haven’t been released quite yet. Presently, players can unlock about one-fourth of everything. So, that’s one-fourth of the skill tree (my estimate based off the original skill tree from Rogue Legacy), the locations, the mythos and storyline, character classes, and bosses. There aren’t any achievements available yet either.
While I feel it’s still completely worth the money to invest in it right now, especially when one considers how much stuff they will be adding over the next couple of months or so, I understand if people would rather hold on it until it’s a complete product. I’m part of the game’s Discord server and help provide feedback on the release, updates, patches, etc., and I know that having such limited access to the game has been frustrating for a lot of players. Nevertheless, I must say that for an Early Access release, it’s a pretty decent amount of content. Every time I log into the game, I’ve also noticed a slight increase in what’s available. For example, new baddies and special items have made their appearance in the last few logins and I suspect this shall keep happening as the developers iron out more bugs and details and finish piecing it all together. Plus, spending less money now for something that’s not 100% finished, will save you moolah later on when it’s finalised and (probably) undergoes a price hike. These are just somethings to keep in mind.
All in all, my first impressions of Rogue Legacy 2 are pretty fucking great and I’m immensely ecstatic to see what’s to come in the upcoming updates and patches. I already know that this shall become another favourite game of all-time. If I could list any complaints, it would be that the game does have a slightly slow loading time (from character select to starting the castle), once you max out the skill tree and gain all the current journal entries there’s not much left to farm (for the moment), and the soundtrack isn’t quite as fabulous as the predecessor. Nonetheless, it’s a bitching awesome good-time and I highly recommend it to fans of the roguelike genre or people who find delight in challenging platfomers.