The castle rests on a distant hill, as it has for centuries. Balefully as you approach, you mouth its name – “Hamson.” Standing there in front of the gate is a figure your family has come to know well – countless ancestors have died on these grounds, trying to lift the curse that befell both castle and kingdom. Their legacy is one fraught with both death and failure.
Charon, gatekeeper of Hades extends his hand to you as you walk over the moat, offering you a wide grin. You know what he wants, of course. It’s the same thing as always – your gold. You’re certain he’d take all of it, were he able. After paying him a mint, you enter the castle’s gate and…what were you doing again? You can’t seem to remember. Hey, what is this place? And why do you have a sword?
Yeah, maybe choosing a character that had Alzheimers wasn’t the smartest thing to do.
Indie Game of the Week: Rogue Legacy
I should back up a little. See, every single hero in Rogue Legacy – a rogue-like platformer/RPG from Cellar Door Games – is unique. Every time you die, you get to choose between three ‘children’ of your late character. These children hail from a wide array of professions (whatever classes you’ve managed to unlock up to this point, actually), and each one boasts up to three random characteristics. If you’re playing a coprophilic color-blind dwarf, for example; you’ll be incredibly short, the game will be played in black-and-white, and your character will curse at every available opportunity. Step into Hamson as a demented giant, on the other hand, and you’ll be larger than most of the enemies you encounter, but plagued with hallucinations.
Oh, you’ll also receive a random spell (or a selection of random spells, depending on your class). Though some of these are understandably far more powerful than others, none of them are strictly useless if you know how to wield them properly.
It’s an incredibly fun mechanic – though a somewhat depressing one, as you can at any time look back at your family tree (meaning you can see just how terrible you actually are at the game.) What’s more, the various traits and classes add a whole new dimension to the experience; no two characters are likely to play the same way, even if they’re the same class.
The castle, too, is randomly generated each time you play – though you can pay a premium to an NPC known as the Architect to lock Hamson into its most recent configuration in the event that you’re having trouble reaching a particular boss.
That said; there is a little bit of permanence in Rogue Legacy. Scattered throughout Castle Hamson, you’ll find weapon and armor blueprints, runes (weapon and armor augmentations), and a king’s ransom in gold. All of this loot, once found, is effectively permanent- though most of the gold you make inside Hamson will go towards either rebuilding your own keep or unlocking the equipment you’ve found; any you don’t spend will have a huge chunk taken out of it by Charon, the castle’s gatekeeper.
Your keep is where the RPG elements of Rogue Legacy come into play. Upgrading the structure unlocks new classes, upgrades existing classes, improves your character’s stats, and offers an array of different bonuses. You can even shell out a bit of coin to reduce the amount of money Charon charges as an entry fee.
Mechanics-wise, Rogue Legacy is absolutely fantastic. I’ve always been a huge fan of platformers (the first game I ever played was Mega Man 5), and Rogue Legacy’s a damned fine one. The controls are slick and responsive, the animations are fluid and well-made, and the game’s myriad enemies and bosses are challenging without being downright unfair.
I’m a little bit ashamed to say it’s eaten up more than a few hours of my time. It’s incredibly easy, while playing, to say “just a few more hours…” and suddenly it’s four in the morning and you realize you never ate dinner. Don’t believe me? Try for yourself. You can pick it up on Steam for $14.99.