Rogue Legacy 2 – Zero Punctuation


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Blimey, a lot of crap has come out of early access lately. It was like showing a roomful of ten-year-old school kids that period video and watching the innocence fade from their eyes one by one. I played Rogue Legacy 2, which last week triumphantly produced the stained sheet representing its graduation from childhood innocence. Not to be confused with Rouge Legacy, which is the biopic of the man who came up with the idea for boobs in Sonic the Hedgehog, Rogue Legacy is, oddly enough, a Legacy Roguelike. Each time you die you pass control to the next heir in your family line, which presumably means each attempt takes place decades apart, so it’s odd that none of the NPCs age or move elsewhere and that the surrounding world never invents flying cars, no matter how many generations go through the meat grinder of my shit dodging reflexes, but we’re probably not supposed to point that out. Also, since the definition of “roguelike” these days has about as much to do with the original Rogue as a pig holding a fish in its mouth has to do with Yoko Ono, all of your upgrades and progression through the streak castle boss battles are retained. permanently.

The only roguelike thing about it is that the castle procedurally regenerates with each attempt, like the board of directors of a doomed startup. But don’t get my tone wrong: I really liked Rogue Legacy 1. I’m all about Castlevania-style 2D platforming, I love swinging a sword so big it goes through a wall and smacks a jellyfish head floating on the other side in absolute physics debasement. The permanent upgrade made it pretty easy to live with Roguelikes. I like a challenge, but I think I liked it a lot more before every bloody indie game decided it was their job to take turns making sure my bullshit never got unbloated, and Rogue Legacy instead just throws cups of cold piss in my face is a refreshing break. Although note that I said I “loved” Rogue Legacy 1, in past tense, and I say that because Rogue Legacy 2 goes right next to Left 4 Dead 2 and Hand of Fate 2 on my “sequels which mean we don’t need the original bookshelf anymore”. Rogue Legacy 1 was all pixel art and kept doing this thing where they doubled the size of a pixel art enemy to make it a boss version and it looked like absolute crunchy assholes Rogue Legacy 2 is basically the same game with more bits and bobs and better design and slick cartoon hand-animated artwork that never crosses eyeballs like a caterpillar in spiked running shoes.

Although since the first game it has taken some influence from – come on, guess. Uh… Sex and the city? What? Nope! Dark Souls! It’s gotten a bit Dark Soulsy on us like 90% of top-tier indie games these days. Why would you say Sex and the Ci – I don’t know! You took me on the spot! So now the environments are all grand cathedrals, ruined cities and magical libraries, the boss fights are all against tortured fallen lords with severe back problems, and there’s a rather convoluted plot behind everything we reconstruct from discoveries of random documents. A plot that seems to be themed around tragedy and hubris and completely at odds with the surface level gameplay where we could play as a character with clown disease who can double jump thanks to the power of their earth-shattering farts. Still, at least the Fallen Lords with back issues are more interesting to fight than just big versions of standard enemies that were the boss fights in Rogue Legacy 1, although it would be nice to take a break from the fucking Soulsy shit one of them days and playing a game about, I don’t know, hijacking nuggets of unsolicited information about the sex lives of four grotesquely wealthy middle-aged women.

Your procedural game design lesson for the day is that rearranging the level layout doesn’t matter if the main game loop doesn’t change. It’s the difference between randomizing the contents of a bag of crisps and randomizing which body orifice you insert them into. So I like that dying means starting a new character with different attacks and abilities. It’s like doing one of those skills in a 2D Castlevania where you have to equip everything you find or randomize weapons every five minutes like you accidentally drank a Tourette Syndrome potion. But there are some character classes in Rogue Legacy 2 that I just can’t get my head around. The bard is about as useful as any prancing simpleton with a bachelor’s degree in music education can be. You’re supposed to throw a note and then jump on the note to damage nearby enemies, like using a toaster that only works if you hit the dance on the browning button. And then there’s the Barbarian who only does full damage when standing on the ground, but this is 2D Castlevania style combat, where if you ever don’t jump attack you’re probably in the midst of a severe blow. I didn’t see the point in taking either one if there was a Knight or Duelist available who just swing a sword and the thing on the other end dies.

So all you have to worry about is remembering to press the attack button with your thumb, not your eyeball. As the difficulty increases, you’ll want to worry about as little as possible, because the main trick for more advanced enemies is to throw more projectiles and all of a sudden you’ll have brought a dagger sword. fencing in a hell of balls fight. So there’s an imbalance issue in that some characters are obviously better to play with than others, if you’re stuck with an heir that has that one debuff that just upsets the whole screen, you might as well let them die just as fast as possible and wait for the next one, even if it’s going to be hard to explain to the woman. A lack of balance is kind of comparable to the trail with randomization and I guess if everyone in the family got an equal slice of cake it probably wouldn’t be as interesting as a kid getting two slices and the next having scoliosis and double- jointed thumbs. But the placement of enemies and objects in the levels sometimes feels very wonky. Oddly, it’s as if they’ve just been strewn haphazardly around the available space like urine droplets at the start of an extremely inopportune surprise party.

It’s easy to feel like things aren’t quite right when you’re mobbed by three skeletons and a missile turret while trying to navigate inside an outhouse. Like I said, these issues are kind of inherent to the format, and if they weren’t deal-breakers in the first game, they won’t be now, because like I said, Rogue Legacy 2 n It’s basically Rogue Legacy 1, but correctly this time. 1 had a problem with too much enemy variety early on and 2 is better at pacing them throughout the game. The different areas of the castle actually feel different in terms of layout and navigation rather than just a new wallpaper on the same platform arrangements. The art is more pleasing, even though the projectiles often collide with the background, as the randomizers aren’t any better for aesthetic choices than they are for gameplay balance. So now we have a much improved descendant, might as well throw its predecessor straight into the memory bin and move on. Which, to be fair, is completely on brand. This is exactly how the game works. In which case I’m looking forward to Rogue Legacy 3, which will also be a bit stronger but will also have double vision and distended testicles.

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