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Rogue Legacy 2 Review: “The Best Sequel They Could Make"

Rogue Legacy 2 Review: “The Best Sequel They Could Make"
Images via Cellar Door Games

Written by 

Dave McAdam

Posted 

28th Apr 2022 18:00

It was a little bit of divine providence that Cellar Door Games chose to call their game Rogue Legacy. Few games can claim to have a legacy in today’s gaming world like the one Rogue Legacy has, its influence has been undeniable. The original had arguably as much of an effect on indie games of the last decade as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare did on first-person shooters post-2007. Neither game invented a new genre, but both games defined their respective genres for a generation to come. Now, Rogue Legacy 2 enters a very different landscape than its predecessor did, with lofty expectations for a big name re-entering a now saturated market. Does Rogue Legacy have what it takes to live up to the first game, while carving its own place among the rogue-lites of today?

Maintaining The Legacy

Rogue Legacy 2 Review: Maintaining The Legacy

Returning fans are going to feel immediately at home with Rogue Legacy 2. The game perfectly encapsulates the spirit and charm of the original, even with trading in the 2D pixel art for a hybrid of 2D and 3D animation styles. This new look invokes the original game’s design while updating it, keeping the simplicity while adding a lot of variety to the effects and depth to the backgrounds.

In many ways, Rogue Legacy 2 looks like it could be a remaster of the original, as the style is still very simplistic but that isn't a bad thing by any means, the clean visuals are a strength of the game, especially when paired with its beautiful hand-crafted backgrounds. It is clear from the outset that this game doesn’t seek to take the series in a massively new direction, merely to make what was already good even better.

That design ethos is one of the real strengths here because they did not throw the baby out with the bathwater when approaching the sequel. Much of what was appealing about the first game is still here, making it the easiest possible recommendation to fans of the original. Clearly, the focus was to look at what made the first a success, then expand on that.

Where Legacy Meets Progress

Rogue Legacy 2 Review: Legacy Meets Progress

Rogue Legacy 2 still brings you 2D action platforming, you still explore a giant Kingdom while building up your own castle, and you still play through the many generations of the same family. You start off with a handful of classes and unlock more as you go, while also upgrading things like your health and damage, getting new gear and unlocking permanent buffs.

Every time you die, you return to the castle to choose an heir, spend your gold, and then jump right back into the fray. There are bosses you must defeat across the various biomes of the Kingdom and defeating them all will unlock the way to the final boss. All of these things are true in both games, and all of these things have been expanded and improved in the sequel.

There are many more classes to choose from, and each has unique abilities that make them much more interesting than the different classes of its predecessor. Every class has their own ability, such as the Ranger who can create platforms or the Ronin who can perform a teleport dash. Classes now have a levelling system, so every time you play as a character you gain experience for their class. Levelling up classes grant permanent stat increases, rewarding players for picking a favourite class and sticking with it.

On the topic of choosing characters, the negative character traits of the first game have returned. Your character could be colour blind, have panic attacks, or could even be a pacifist and refuse to attack anyone. However, in Rogue Legacy 2 these negative traits also come with percentage increases in acquiring gold, giving you a reason to want to bring these characters into the Kingdom.

The Kingdom you explore has been greatly expanded as well. The first game had four biomes: the very straightforward Castle, Forest, Tower, and Dungeon. Rogue Legacy 2 has six regions to explore, with much more interesting names like the Kergeulen Plateau or The Stygian Study. These regions are always roughly in the same place, but there are requirements for accessing most of them.

You need to progress through the regions in a roughly set order, as you need to defeat bosses or acquire items to reach the next one. Speaking of bosses, there are more of them as well and they are much more varied than the giant floating balls that bosses were in Rogue Legacy. This way that you progress through the game is part of Rogue Legacy 2’s push to be more of a Metroidvania.

 

Branching Out

Rogue Legacy 2 Review: Branching Out

The developers have been clear in their intention to bring more Metroidvania aspects to the game, specifically in adding items that the player must acquire that make big changes to gameplay, and are required to reach certain areas. These are called heirlooms. You will find statues throughout the game that have these heirlooms, and they will transport you to a special challenge room which can be combat, platforming, and even the occasional puzzle. Complete the challenge and the heirloom will become permanently yours, passed down through generations of adventurers.

Another new feature is finding Relics and using Resolve, which is denoted by a percentage in the top left of the screen. You want to keep your Resolve over 100% as much as possible, as dipping below that will reduce your maximum health. How you lose Resolve is by picking up Relics, which are items you will find randomly that cause a wide variety of effects. Relics can drastically alter the game, so you need to weigh up their value against the loss of Resolve they cause.

Rogue Legacy 2 takes a lot of what the first game was and expands on it, but not everything has received the same fresh coat of paint. Enemy variety, for example, is much the same as the first game, which is to say not great, although it improves towards the end. However, Rogue Legacy 2 depends on the player to play through the same areas multiple times, and there are only so many times you can face off against floating hands carrying daggers before you start to get a bit sick of seeing them.

In fairness to the game, there is only so much you can do with enemy design in a 2D game, but considering the amount of 2D games we have seen over the last few years with wonderful enemy design, it is a bit of a shame that Rogue Legacy couldn’t expand its gallery of rogues a bit more.

A Legacy Lived Up To

Rogue Legacy 2 Review: A Legacy Lived Up To

Overall, Rogue Legacy 2 is easy to recommend. Creating a sequel to a classic is never an easy job because expectations are always high and are rarely reasonable. There is a version of reality where Rogue Legacy 2 is a massive, ambitious, 3D triple-A game that tries to bank on the name to become something "more".

Instead, the folks at Cellar Door Games focused on making the best sequel they could for the game that Rogue Legacy is. They have absolutely catered to fans of the original, without leaving new players behind. They have not been intimidated by advancements in the genre of roguelites into making a totally different game, which is especially admirable. The only thing Rogue Legacy 2 wants to be is the most fun version of Rogue Legacy it can be, and it absolutely succeeds in that endeavour.

 

8/10

Reviewed on PC. Code provided by publisher.

 

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