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Afterpatch Review: Rogue Legacy 2
Developer: Cellar Door Games
Publisher: Cellar Door Games
Available On: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
Review Console: Nintendo Switch OLED
CAN YOU REPEAT THAT?! - Introduction
In 2013, while surfing the internet and watching videos, I stumbled upon a little-known gem. Rogue Legacy was the name, and the endless praise being heaped on it had me intrigued. As I began learning more, though, the reality of it falling under an overdone genre came to light. I admit I was skeptical because Roguelike, despite three sitting in my top 10 most played, was rapidly spiraling into redundancy. It feels like every second indie release firmly positions itself as such. That said, I can’t pretend I don’t find them highly addictive. I love unlockables and fast-paced action. Needless to say, I downloaded it, and after committing fifty or sixty hours, I became a rabid fanatic. Unsurprisingly, the announcement of a sequel had me in ecstasy, but will it be as successful as its predecessor?
OKAY, THAT’S FUNNY! - Writing
The dialogue in Rogue Legacy 2 is sparse, with the majority of interactions occurring in the hub world. Basically, nothing prevents it from being half-assed since it isn’t a central facet. That’s not what happens, however, as everyone I came by has a quirky charm. Their speech patterns, regardless of solely being text, have the mannerisms that made these hordes of data feel tangible. Sure, I never grew emotionally attached, but I didn’t need to. I found their quips delightful. In other words, nothing feels robotic. The stutters and stampers add a realistic air to hammer in a feeling of immersion. The humor made my lips curl as I smiled like a dork. Cellar Door Games took their passion from the first entry before multiplying it tenfold. The personality is not exclusively linked to visual fidelity but now also to literary prowess.
READ A BOOK! - Writing
The lore building, on the other hand, isn’t too robust but adequate in being enticing. See, as you’re scampering through the labyrinthine rooms, you can cross a desk with a diary on top. Inside each one found are the ramblings of someone that goes by a single initial, speaking to another. It tells of their observations in the procedurally generated dungeons, explaining why the layout randomizes after death. The way it canonizes that is such a fun idea and helps to further flesh out the world. One downfall to this, however, is you most definitely won’t locate them in sequential order, meaning the chatter will be jumbled. Fortunately, after retrieving these books, they’re readily available whenever you desire a catch-up session. Granted, the background is surely surface-level, but it does plenty to infuse heft to this universe.
I know there’s a subset of individuals that read the above and immediately decided they would forgo indulging themselves. I’d suggest against doing so because amid the language are hidden tips. Okay, so I concede 99% of what’s revealed isn’t tough to discern on your own, but having that safety net, just in case, is reassuring and helps smooth out potential frustration. As a nice bonus, it won’t ever be a wall of exposition, only containing maybe, at most, a hundred or so words - having dialect flair is advantageous. It’s user-friendly, and before long, it’s right back to the slaughter - if losing momentum weighs heavily on your mind, it shouldn’t. Learning about information is structured in such a way that if you’re ever on a streak of slaying, it remains unintrusive and doesn’t interrupt murderous intent.
LIFE AFTER DEATH! - Gameplay
As a Roguelike, there’s that expectation of progression, even after meeting the dark void of emptiness. Well, that’s here, but rather than have the character’s level reset, it’s maintained. The reason for that is due to being tied to the extensive skill tree. You see, each upgrade equates to plus one, meaning that money, in this game, acts as pseudo-experience points. If there’s any wariness to the frequency of coin drops, banish it now. Those metal spheres damn near sprout up from virtually every enemy that has been stabbed to oblivion. There are plenty of chests within the dungeons, too, giving out more of that sweet, sweet cash. For those wondering, yes, that’s going to be your grinding. Thankfully, dues to the lightning-quick combat, it eliminates a lot of the monotony, but not entirely.
My main qualm with this mechanic is the price tags get exponentially higher with each uptick. It’s by an egregious amount, with later perks costing thousands. Yes, I admit that with a couple of savvy investment decisions, it’s feasible to lessen the impact on your wallet, but at the start, it’s going to sting. That was until I found a whole accessibility menu, though. It allows me to dictate aspects such as enemy health and my lethality, and, wouldn’t you know it, one button led to getting a full refund to recommit, only now I was well aware of upcoming bonuses. I can better plan out the optimal path, optimizing my finances. I no longer have to sacrifice the progression I made by restarting a brand new file so that I can completely reinvest. It effectively erases all my gripes, like those inflated prices.
MY INHERITED SKILLS! - Gameplay
Now, the justification for utilizing an identical avatar in consecutive runs is usually reincarnation, but not in Rogue Legacy. No, it’s their heirs. Basically, you take the role of the child of the deceased warrior. What’s nifty about this is since they’re still their own person, their attributes always differ. The type of weapon they wield also gets an alteration and can include: magical staffs, guns, swords, spears, and others. As a further element of variety, they function in a unique way - manifesting black holes, spewing bullets, slashing, thrusts, and much more. I loved the diverse selection because it made gameplay feel distinct, giving options to pick between and tons to master. In a weird way, it also added a sense of strategy because while going full kamikaze with, say, a blade is viable, magical abilities are methodical and, trust me, not suited to a reckless charge.
To continue rustling up your knickers, upon choosing your character, you’ll notice a list of talents. These perks come in positive and negative variations. To cushion the latter, it also often accompanies money receiving a boost. Having that attempts to offset the awful effects. Naturally, as severity is boosted, and, by proxy, the irritability, so will the potential cash flow. It’s worth noting a couple of these are deceptively tough to deal with, such as one that causes an explosive bottle to spawn after annihilating a foe. My instinctual response upon delivering the finishing blow is to get the loot.
As a consequence of my eagerness, though, I suffer colossal damage. Still, it’s engaging, and the balance between good and bad is sufficient. There’s a crazy amount of polish in Rogue Legacy 2. Cellar Door Games were motivated to create something amazing, and dammit, they did it.
THIS ABILITY IS HERE TO STAY! - Gameplay
Getting permanent upgrades is another mainstay of Roguelikes. In Rogue Legacy 2, they take the form of abilities that ultimately speed up traversal by giving you maneuvers like double jumping or dashing. What I took an immediate fancy to was that to teach me the fundamentals of whatever I had just acquired; it doesn’t throw a box of text and call it a day. Instead, I’d be dropped into an obstacle course with several hurdles needing that specific skill. For anyone that, like me, is a visual learner, doing it in this manner meant I could better hone it. Knowing there are no adverse ramifications to constant failure means I can keep trying without concern for a game over. It’s great to see, primarily because during the latter sections of the randomized areas, some jumps command precision.
There’s no denying that, given the genre, there’s an unavoidable inherent repetitiveness. It recycles the same settings, albeit slightly jumbled, to give the illusion of freshness. For some, that’s enough, but for others, well, it won’t mask the slog that comes with running through identical room designs. A couple of activities are needed to distract, and luckily, that’s precisely what we get - murdering monstrosities isn’t all we’re doing. There are blueprints hidden, allowing you to forge equipment with varying effects like boosting defense, increasing the weight load your character can carry, or upping the overall strength to deliver deadly blows. It throws spice into the gameplay loop. Materials are another thing you’re tasked with grabbing. It incentivizes you to manifest a bloodlust deep inside your soul and act, eliminating everything. If it isn’t clear by now, I’m slightly demented.
LIKE A BABY’S BOTTOM! - Presentation
Perhaps it’s a result of the simple pixel art style, but nevertheless, the coveted peanut butter smoothness is achieved - Cellar Door Games is bang on. Sprinting through corridors and dodging projectiles is a blast - animations are fluent. Despite putting Rogue Legacy 2 under stress, and purposely trying to cause a crash, it doesn’t blink. The stutters are nonexistent, with zero hiccups in sprite movements. The color usage is bloody vibrant, popping off the screen. It looks as if a toddler came in, filling in all the facets with markers. The environmental details, like on the shelves, are meticulously done. Some would say it’s visually simplistic, and sure, I agree, but no one can argue the dedication. There’s a crispiness everywhere. I think the cartoony appearance it sports fits sublimely with the game, which is why it stands out - it has a pleasing aesthetic.
AND THE LEGACY FULFILLED VERDICT IS…
Rogue Legacy 2 not only joins the juggernauts of the genre and into my Top 10, but it successfully made me an even bigger junkie. Hell, as I sit here writing this review, I’m yearning for my next fix. Hell, why do you think this coverage is so late?
I was feverishly going on countless runs, thinking up excuses to put off writing this coverage. It’s really no exaggeration to say hours of my life happily vanished in a puff of smoke. Not a bone in my body regrets it, either. The gameplay loop is so damn satisfying. I had no problems cycling dungeons over and over. The adrenaline was pumping, and my nerves were flipping as I’d narrowly escape a boss monster with my life. Despite experiencing just another Roguelike in a crowded pool, there’s no mistaking that Cellar Door Games nailed it. Again.
ROGUE LEGACY 2 IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Special thanks to the Publisher for the review code used for this coverage.