Rogue Legacy 2 PC Review

The Rogue Legacy series is back, but can it best its titular debut?

By LG18, Posted 07 May 2022

Games like Rogue Legacy 2 are some of my favorite announcements: titles that start something amazing, take a backseat whilst the rest of the industry catches on, and then prophetically return with an apt reminder of why they were so innovative in the first place. 

The ‘Rogue-like’ genre — the style of gameplay built on Perma deaths, procedural generation, and dungeon crawling— wasn’t started by Rogue Legacy, but it and the similarly styled Spelunky did a great deal to merge Rouge-like gameplay with satisfying platforming. This new sub-genre was dubbed Rogue-lite: they replaced the turn-based, less-forgiving quirks of classic Rouge-like’s with more forgiving mechanics and influences from other genres. They were hugely successful, and In the best way possible, Rogue Legacy 2 is much of the same. 

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The game’s visuals are usually something I shy away from — sharp, colorful, and cartoonish foregrounds that don’t gel very well with the backgrounds, making the 2D world feel very artificial. As such, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the overall look of the first game in the series. 

Upon launching Rogue Legacy 2, I thought I was in for a similarly nauseating art style, but it was soon revealed to me that this iteration is actually quite beautiful. The developers have managed to channel the same visual style that made Rouge Legacy unique whilst updating it to feel more cohesive. Foregrounds and backgrounds blend nicely and feature some brilliant uses of lighting, and what I initially passed off as a garish color pallet I soon changed my mind on. Some of the artwork, particularly that which is featured in the backgrounds, is beautifully rendered, and playing the game in 4K was a true visual feast. Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell the difference between separate resolutions in a game, but here, the colors pop spectacularly. Given the flow state the game induces, the visuals went a long way in cementing an addictive, quite mesmerizing experience.

And of course, that addictive gameplay loop is what’s keeping any Rouge-like fan glued to their screen. The game presents a modest initial move set inclusive of your standard jumps, melee and ranged attacks, and magic powers, but through a deep upgrade system and meticulously balanced character classes; there’s an exquisite yin-yang to the gameplay. As the old adage goes: it’s easy to learn, difficult to master.

The basic premise revolves around fighting your way through a labyrinth of different environments. You’ll face a wide variety of foes, and while standard character and enemy designs are nothing to write home about in terms of their originality (with the exception of some brilliant boss encounters I won’t spoil), they’re all drawn and animated very well. They also present the player with quite the challenge; this is going to be a tough ride for both Rouge-like experts and platformer veterans, so know that you have your work cut out for you.

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That said, the inevitability of death is also kind of the point. Dying in Rogue Legacy 2 means you’ll have to start over — your most recently slain protagonist pictured affectionately on the walls of your base amongst a lineage of befallen heroes. As such, the game is as much about collecting loot from chests and dead enemies as it is about combat: your character may have been killed and you may have to start a new run, but any gold you accumulated on your journey is saved and used for essential upgrades. 

These upgrades enhance the gameplay in a huge variety of different ways, from offering relatively basic abilities to completely changing the way the game plays, and in this way, it gets a little easier every time you die. This is accompanied by the fact that you also become a slightly better player following each run.

For me, this is the real fun in Roguelike or Roguelite titles. It makes the occurrence of death far less of a frustration and more just a chance to improve in some small, yet cumulatively impactful way. The game never gets boring, and owing to the expansive and considerably more varied level design than was seen in the first game, the thrill of seeking out every new boss, secret, and new chest of loot was everlastingly entertaining. I would’ve liked to see its robust architecture explained a little more beyond the very basic tutorial, but once I got the hang of things, I didn’t want to stop. Even the story — delivered through text-based prompts you’ll find littered throughout the labyrinthine areas — was surprisingly good.

The joy in playing ultimately comes from simple thrills: timeless, tried and tested, Metroid-Vania style mechanics. Yet this game encrusts those age-old ideas with more upgrades, new abilities, challenges, and play styles you can shake a stick at. 

Character classes in Rogue Legacy 2 are grounded in traditional fantasy abilities, but different classes can play and control drastically differently from one another. Furthermore, searching for blueprints to attain new weapons made utilizing the abilities of each character interesting and rewarding. This is a game that wills you to succeed — it might be punishing in the beginning, but half the fun comes from experimenting with what is a vast variety of stuff to see and do in every sense.

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As is to be expected, however, there can be a significant amount of grinding involved when it comes to procuring the best gear. Whether this is off-putting to you or not will depend on your level of patience for this sort of gameplay — but given the continual rewards and ever-broadening incentives to keep playing, the grind didn’t really bother me. 

Ultimately, Rogue Legacy 2 is impressive on all accounts. I was seriously impressed with how much depth the developers were able to eke out of ordinarily simple gameplay mechanics, and how they managed to balance everything to the extent that its harsh challenges and steep learning curve served to teach me something new after each death. 

Rogue Legacy 2 is built to be played for hours at a time or for ten minutes; it’s welcoming to Rouge-like newbies and PC veterans; It’s uncomplicated yet with a suitable amount of depth. Cellar Door Games have undoubtedly outdone themselves again, setting a new bar for the Rogue-lite gameplay style they helped kickstart.

Linden Garcia (@garcia_linden)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, XBSX, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Cellar Door Games
Developer(s): Cellar Door Games
Genres: 2D Platformer
Themes: Roguelike, Indie, Shooter, Fighting, Adventure
Release Date: 2022-04-28

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