Rogue Legacy 2 is basically Rogue Legacy 1, except it's also a tiny bit better in every single way!
- Title: Rogue Legacy 2
- Release Date: November 9, 2022 (Switch Version)
- Price: $24.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB
- Availability: Switch, Steam, Xbox
- Recommended for fans of: Castlevanias, Roguelites, and Quirky Characters
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
Somehow the first Rogue Legacy game completely passed me over. I really never had any interest in any game with “rogue” in the description until I became obsessed with Hades. Since then I've sampled loads and gone deep on a few. When everyone was buzzing about the PC build of Rogue Legacy 2 earlier this year I finally picked up the first game on the Switch and really loved it— for about a week. Then I started up another Metroidvania game and Dead Cells and Rogue Legacy was left behind.
I start up Rogue Legacy 2 when it shadow-dropped during last week's Indie World presentation, and I've been deeply into it ever since then. I don't think that it's revelatory in any way, but if you like any sort of 2D action game, and especially if you liked the first Rogue Legacy, this is an absolute must-play. It's a lot like the original game but just a little bit better in absolutely every way.
The Legacy Way
If you're new to the franchise, you can sort of think of Rogue Legacy as a procedurally generated Castlevania game. You start as a Knight battling their way through a castle to try to eliminate some number of bosses to unseal a big ole door behind which the credits lie. When you die, you lose all your accumulated magical doohickeys and start over in a new, freshly randomly generated layout of the castle as the next adventurer in a family line. In terms of meta-progression, the gold you accumulate during your pilgrimages can be used to buy upgrades to the home base you launch your campaigns from, which gives you ongoing upgrades to weapons, armor, spells, and character classes to choose from.
The sense of progression is where both Rogue Legacy games really excel. Because each run affords you the opportunity to spend some cash to upgrade your castle, time in this game never feels wasted. Even a bad run gets you a few bucks that you can spend for minor, permanent stat boosts. There's also a sense of permanent discovery in the form of Relics: magical doohickeys that you find in your adventure whose effects are a mystery until the first time you pick them up.
Rogue Legacy's Traits
On the silly side of things, the Rogue Legacy games have a “traits” system, where most of the characters you play as will have one or two “traits” that change up the gameplay a little bit.
Sometimes these are cool shifts to your character build, like a trait that makes you take way more damage but lets you regain health every time you kill an enemy.
Often they are weird augments to the player experience in exchange for a boost in gold. One of my favorites has been a narcissistic trait where my character sees themselves as the star of the show, which effectively means there's a spotlight around me while the rest of the stage is super dark. Does this make the game harder? Sure, but it also gets me way more gold and as an added effect throws up bursts of roses from the audience every time I clear a room.
At the start of a run, you are always given three characters with different classes, magical spells, and traits to choose from, so you're rarely locked into a specific playstyle. And even if you end up with something that doesn’t click with you, the constant sense of progression makes a quick, bad run feel worthwhile.
I am absolutely loving my time with Rogue Legacy 2. It's a fantastic game that I think anyone who enjoys 2D action and procedural generation will get an absolute kick out of, but it's also been really hard for me to review. I realized my struggle in chatting with Jeff over at Nindie Nation— Rogue Legacy 2 is great because it's just a bit better than Rogue Legacy.
It's got the same great sense of progression, snappy gameplay, and “one more run” propulsion as the first game, but it's also just a bit better in every way. The controls feel more tightly tuned, the visuals are a bit more refined, and unlocking mobility upgrades after boss fights is an excellent reward. On the other hand, it's also not massively different. It is an excellent sequel in that it builds on everything from the first game without overreaching to become something different.
Really, the worst thing I can say about Rogue Legacy 2 is that I like it so much that I doubt I'll ever boot up Rogue Legacy again.