Rogue Legacy review for PS Vita, PS4, PS3

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS3, PS4
Publisher: Cellar Door Games
Developer: Cellar Door Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

I feel like I shouldn’t like Rogue Legacy. After all, the two games it most closely resembles — Spelunky and Castlevania — aren’t games that I like at all. It’s pretty hard (usually the last thing I look for in a game), and it makes no concessions towards ever making it any easier on you: not only are the levels all procedurally-generated (which means that each castle is different), you have to give up all your loot before each run, which makes saving up for upgrades extremely difficult, to say the least.

And yet: I love it. I’m addicted to it. I’m having trouble tearing myself away from it to write this review. I don’t know that I’m ready to call Rogue Legacy my Game of the Year candidate or anything — not with Hotline Miami 2 still on the horizon — but it’s certainly up there on my list.

Rogue Legacy 1

Honestly, I’m having trouble articulating why I love Rogue Legacy so much. If I didn’t know any better, though, I might be tempted to say it’s because, rather than in spite, of all those things I usually hate in games. Take, for example, the soul-crushing difficulty. Usually, I just get discouraged when I die in a level in under a minute. Here, however, the death barely registers; I just momentarily hope that I somehow earned enough coins for some paltry upgrade, and then I launch right into my next life. If that’s not the definition of addictive, I don’t know what is.

To be sure, some of the game’s better qualities are a little more tangible than that. The writing, for instance, is fantastic; it was always a pleasure to read the short bios of each succeeding generation’s knights, and finding the little nuggets hidden within (i.e. some knights have coprolalia — that is, the swear excessively — while gay knights are said to be “A fan of the man” [sidenote: Rogue Legacy may just have more gay and lesbian characters than every other game I’ve ever played combined. Progress!]). Likewise, the graphics are cute, and full of fun little flourishes; it may start out looking like your standard retro indie game, but when your knight who can’t see in 3D turns around to reveal that (s)he is flat, or when your knight with blurry vision sees everything in his or her immediate vicinity with a big blur around them, it’s hard not to be charmed.

Rogue Legacy 2

Of course, it makes it a lot easier to be charmed when the game is just so good. And so addictive. And so…you know what? Forget this, I need to get back to playing. Rogue Legacy is just so every good adjective you can think of, so go buy it ASAP.

Grade: A+