a triumph of procedural game design

IIt took a colorblind vampire to kill Estuary Lamech, the first big boss of Rogue Legacy 2is the gigantic deadly trap that constantly stirs. The ancient Spellblade, which had slain generations of Knights, Barbarians, Valkyries and, er, Leaders, simply couldn’t keep up with Sir Tommy II’s ability to regenerate health with each successful attack. It wasn’t exactly a noble victory, but believe me, it was well deserved.

Sir Tommy didn’t survive much longer, unfortunately. He died climbing a tower to get magic boots. But his name goes down in history with all the great heroes who preceded him. Like Lady Josephine, the first to sail from Fort Agartha to the flats of the Lamech estuary. Or Sir Teddy, who discovered the secret hidden in the Tower of Lights. Oh, and let’s not forget Lady Pepper, who managed to obtain the legendary Tome of Aesop.

There are many things that separate Rogue Legacy 2 of its predecessor, from its expanded character generation system to its vivid and cartoonish new art style. But it’s how the characters are defined by their deeds as much as their traits that is perhaps the biggest difference between the two. The sequel takes the first game’s premise of funneling an entire dynasty of heroes into the jaws of an extremely evil dungeon, but it gives those heroes a much bigger opportunity to write their own chapter in history. Now, Sir Shawn isn’t just the blue-skinned duelist who suffers from panic attacks. It was the Duelist who defeated the Void Beasts of Axis Mundi.

Structurally, Rogue Legacy 2 is similar to the first game. You guide a hero through a series of 2D mazes filled with traps, monsters, and treasure. Your goal in Rogue Legacy 2 is to slay the “Estuaries”, oddly named demigods whose collective life force is tied to a magical gate in the heart of Fort Agartha.

It is a quest that your first hero is doomed to fail. In fact, they probably won’t get five coins to the bottom of the fort before they’re slashed, burned, crushed, or stabbed to death. But every failure brings progress. Gold and other loot your deceased hero has collected is brought home by unspecified means. Here they are used to upgrade your castle to provide better equipment and training for your hero’s descendants. This way, the next brave warrior to venture into Fort Agartha will be slightly stronger and get six coins in the dungeon before toppling over with something large and pointy protruding from their chest.

While you’re still sending weaponized water into a giant mill full of skeletons, the types of heroes you can field and the things they can do have been greatly expanded. Rogue Legacy 2 adds a bunch of new classes to go along with the returning knights, barbarians, and archers from the first game. These include the Dragon Lancer, which can impale enemies from a great distance with its powerful charge attack, and the Valkyrie, whose polearm can be used to attack both vertically and horizontally. Surprisingly, the best new class is the Humble Leader. Not only do they possess the incredibly useful ability to cook healing meals for themselves, but their skillet attack can reflect enemy projectiles back at them, making them effective in both melee and ranged combat. .

Rogue Legacy 2. Credit: Cellar Door Games

Heroes are further defined by individual traits that can positively or negatively affect their ability. This can take the form of a relic, like Fate’s Die, which instantly kills every sixth enemy you hit. Others are somewhat crude representations of physical or psychological conditions, like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which adds a cooldown to your spells and abilities, or Synesthesia, which causes every character on screen to leave a trail. bright color behind him.

Each hero will pay the boatman Charon to take them to the entrance of Fort Agartha, where they will eventually meet their fate. But while the layout of Rogue Legacy 2Dungeons can be randomized, progression through these areas is more strongly defined. Access to new areas revolves around heirlooms, special equipment that grants heroes new abilities and is passed down from generation to generation. These include Ananke’s Shawl, allowing your hero to dash through the air, while Echo’s Boots allow you to bounce off specific objects with a precisely timed Spin Kick.

The nature of these legacies alludes to the other major change Cellar Door Games has made. Rogue Legacy 2 is much more of a platform game than the previous game. Not only can you bounce off enemies and projectiles to prevent yourself from taking damage, but entire sections of the game are also designed specifically as platforming challenges. Axis Mundi, the second area you explore, is a crumbling cityscape half-sunken in churning black waters. Falling into this dark abyss will catapult you to the nearest dry land, so progressing requires you to use your platforming skills.

Rogue Legacy 2. Credit: Cellar Door Games

The platform takes some getting used to, but it’s never as demanding as, say, Celestial. While some items allow you to bypass it entirely, such as a relic that allows your character to fly. But next to giving Rogue Legacy 2 more dynamism, finding these heirlooms is a meaningful event, and you will remember the heroes who successfully found them. The same goes for heroes who defeat specific bosses or discover the secret to each zone’s unique piece.

Combined with the huge range of upgrade systems, which includes a huge skill tree that allows you to build a literal castle as you unlock new abilities, alongside blacksmiths and enchantresses that improve your armor and provide you with passive abilities, almost every run sees you making significant progress in some way. That said, there are ways the game could do more. Deceased heroes are commemorated in a portrait room. But the portrait is all they seem to get. There’s no record of their individual achievements, which, given how the game gives heroes more specific feats to accomplish, seems like a missed opportunity.

It’s not Rogue Legacy 2is the only flaw either. As you unlock new classes, it quickly becomes apparent that some are better than others. Mages, for example, can only launch their main attack directly in front of them, making them difficult to play. Also, no matter how interesting a specific character is, they will always be beaten by any hero with healing abilities, like a vampire or a boss, just because they survive longer.

Yes Rogue Legacy 2 had better class balance and was a bit more active in recording your heroes’ deeds, you’d probably be watching one of the best roguelikes ever made. As it stands, you’ll have to settle for a superb iteration of the previous game’s core concept. A fun, challenging and intensely rewarding dynastic adventure.


Rogue Legacy 2 released on April 28 on PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

The verdict

Combining a superb character generation system with challenging dungeon crawling, Rogue Legacy 2 is an engrossing blend of action-platforming and emergent storytelling.

Advantages

  • Extended legacy system
  • Some classes are better than others

The inconvenients

  • Character acts are not recorded
  • Creative framing can sometimes be a hindrance in combat


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