I’m not one to enjoy too many Rogue or Roguelike games, which becomes quite apparent once you get to know me. The thought of losing all your progress after a death actively turns me away. So what is it about Rogue Legacy 2 that brings me so much joy? Well, it’s the ability to keep your hard work into your next hero, and thanks to that, I haven’t been able to put the game down for days.
Rogue Legacy 2 has hit me where most other Roguelike titles actively try to push me away. Thanks to inclusions like the game’s hero legacy system, I have an urge to continue playing. Where most Rogue and Roguelikes will want to punish you in death, Rogue Legacy 2 gives you constant progression and the ability to pick new heroes; it is the simple “carrot on a stick” I need to dive into a game like this. Every new run feels fresh, each character unique, and a grind befitting my playstyle of over-leveling; this way of play speaks right to my soul. Include the fact that Rogue Legacy 2 has bolstered its Search Action gameplay with the addition of heirlooms that permanently give your heroes new abilities, and I may have the perfect game on my hands.
So what are the basic cliffs note of Rogue Legacy 2? Let me give you the brief. You play as a hero entering a castle to defeat a group of bosses. You encounter multiple enemies and traverse a castle whose layout is randomized every time you enter. The rooms are prebuilt but are randomly ordered, so each time you enter the castle, you will have to find your way back to specific rooms, dungeons, or boss doors. However, Rogue Legacy’s twist is that upon your death, the next of kin take over. The game gives you three different heroes to choose from, and they each have randomized stats, will be one of 13 different classes, and have random perks that may help or hurt you. Each class is tied to a specific weapon, so you may choose a cook who wields a frying pan, an archer who attacks at range with a bow, and of course, a knight who demolishes enemies with a broadsword. Each weapon plays and feels different, giving you a chance to find classes that may meet your needs more than others. Not only are weapons unique to classes, but some perks are also. Take the aforementioned cook; they will have the ability to regain health. This usually comes at a cost, and for the cook, it’s a slower and shorter-range attack.
Those aren’t the only perks your character can randomly acquire, either. Typically, at least one of the three heroes will come with a randomized trait that can be fun, funny, or frustrating. You may find that your hero looks at the world through a sepia-toned lens or censors all the enemies by covering them in pixels. Maybe your hero has irritable bowel syndrome, replacing your primary skill with a double jump fart cloud. There are a ton more to discover, and they honestly help give some wacky variety to this game. I found myself choosing the weird ones on occasion, even if they didn’t have the best potential, to see what their skill ended up being.
Once you’ve chosen your new hero, take any gold you’ve collected or earned in your last run and purchase upgrades. You can increase stats, unlock new classes, and even buy armors and perks for all future runs. However, whatever you don’t spend is given away before you enter the castle again. This progression has kept me playing, even with the game being tight to control, with the variety that you’ll find in new heroes, the random nature of the castle layout, all that plays second fiddle to me when it comes to leveling up. I would have jumped ship very early if Rogue Legacy 2 didn’t include a way to carry over my stats or increase them after each run. But because the game actively gives me a purpose for the gold and doesn’t make me feel like I’m wasting my time, it becomes a purposeful endeavor. The loop here is to enter the castle, earn gold, spend gold to make your heroes stronger, take the stronger hero into the castle to earn more gold and uncover more biomes, to then spend the gold to make your heroes even stronger for the next run. It’s a rinse and repeat that I want to keep coming back to.
Speaking of the castle, one of the critical parts of this game is the discovery aspect. Since the castle is randomized every time, it creates a fresh experience for each run. You can eventually lock the castle in place for cost in gold, but that’s up to you. My plan of attack has been to enter the randomized castle to earn gold. Then when I want to find specific rooms or biomes, I will lock them in place and take the gold hit. Thanks to some of the Search Action mechanics, some areas become more accessible or able to be completed. An example is the learning of the air dash. There is a boss room that will not open until you can light two lanterns within a relatively quick time window. Without the air dash, you cannot get there fast enough and must skip that area.
If you’re not digging the idea of the grind or want to make it more playable for your style, they offer a House Rules system that lets you adjust the difficulty through various options. It is a welcomed addition, and I’m all for more games letting the player dictate how difficult or cumbersome they want their experience to be.
Rogue Legacy 2 has entangled me in its grind. It has cracked that code in me where others often get it wrong. Thanks to the randomness of the heroes, the ability to carry over progression, and the fun combat, I have that urge to keep playing. Rogue Legacy 2 will easily sit in my top games of this year and possibly be one of the most fun times I’ve had this year.
A Steam code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes