April 28, 2022 — Rogue Legacy 2 was released onto Steam’s Early Access program in 2020 shortly after the game was properly announced. Now, two years later, it is getting its big 1.0 patch. It’s also coming to consoles for the first time via the Xbox family. For fans of the original, it has almost been a ten-year-long wait. Was now the right time to launch a sequel or does Rogue Legacy 2 not push the series forward enough to justify the number?
“The art style change from pixels to cartoon visuals will probably be one of the first things fans will notice.”
A Familiar Curse
Rogue Legacy had an interesting gimmick for a roguelike back in 2013. Players began their adventure with a knight who fails at defeating an evil entity. Not only do they die, but their family is cursed for all of eternity. That is until someone down the line can destroy this darkness once and for all. When you died, your character was replaced with a new hero, a successor to the throne.
The game generally gave you three choices after death and every hero had varying stats and classes. There were archers, mages, warriors, and so on. You kept going through children until you beat the game. The same premise returns in this sequel but Rogue Legacy 2, to jump the gun, is bigger and more robust in almost every way.
The Art Of Exploring
The art style change from pixels will probably be one of the first things fans will notice. It’s a clean cartoon-like aesthetic that looks great in motion. The environments in turn have a lot more variety to them.
The first game featured four biomes, Rogue Legacy 2 has even more environments from ruined shipyards and blizzardy mountains. The amount will not be spoiled here — let’s just say the change of scenery was nice.
How you get to each biome also changed as Rogue Legacy 2 has more metroidvania-like elements and you can no longer freely explore the game at your leisure. Each area has heirlooms hiding within them which are items and abilities that can help with traversal. For example, the castle has one heirloom that allows you to dash in the air. Acquiring heirlooms will help you pass on to the next area.
On one hand, the inclusion of these elements helps keep the mechanics fresh throughout the entire adventure. However, it is a shame that there is not as much free exploration. On the plus side though, you can now unlock permanent ways to get to biomes after you meet a certain character.
It’s Time To Weaponize
Another big change was the inclusion of more weapons. In the previous game, you used a sword with every class. Why a mage would use a sword to cast spells is beyond me. Now, each class comes equipped with a standardized weapon.
The Chef has a frying pan, for example. While that may be the standard loadout for the Chef, they can also get special weapons randomized onto their character. One of the strangest ones is a spoon that can bounce off of walls. The addition was refreshing, to say the least as each class feels more special.
“One of my favorite classes is the Gunslinger. You get a set amount of bullets in your revolver before you have to manually reload.”
One of my favorite classes to play in Rogue Legacy 2 is the Gunslinger. You get a set amount of bullets with your revolver before you have to manually reload them (which reminded me of Revolver Ocelot from the Metal Gear series. “There’s nothing like the feeling of slamming a long silver bullet into a well-greased chamber.” Ocelot’s words could never be more true.)
Besides weapons and innate class traits, you’ll pick up Relics and other items on your runs. Relics can boost stats or give you a special ability. For example, one of the best Relics in the game, Hyperion’s Rings, revives you with up to 50% health when you die one time. You can also swap out weapons and attack skills if you find replacements in the dungeon.
A Tricky Balancing Act
When you die you lose all power-ups, but keep gold and other currencies. Gold is used to build up your castle like a makeshift skill tree: Find new classes, increase stats like health, or acquire new mechanics — there is much to unlock. There are no difficulties but the game does seem better balanced than the original. Runs will always be based on luck, of course, but I found myself getting further in dungeons than when I started in the title’s predecessor.
Of course, I am used to the formula by now so maybe that is a factor. If Rogue Legacy 2 does seem too hard there are assist features via “House Rules”. Players can reduce enemy health or fly on command, to give two examples. There is even a way to make enemies harder on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Cellar Door Games Has Done It Again
I was a huge fan of the original game, but after playing Rogue Legacy 2, I think it’ll be hard to go back. This game’s increased flexibility, along with its variety, is what will have players coming back for days on end. There really isn’t much to dock the game for on any real level.
“I cannot fathom a world where people won’t enjoy ‘Rogue Legacy 2’ as much as I did. Simply put, I love it.”
OUT OF 10
THE GOOD STUFF
- Classes got a huge update to them like the addition of weapons.
- The House Rules open the game up for more types of players.
- A gorgeous new art style with fluid animations.
- Locked biomes mean less open exploring.
- Could feel too much of the same thing for some.
- No Switch version at launch.
Sure, perhaps the formula may feel too familiar, but that’s a pessimistic view to take with Rogue Legacy 2. I cannot fathom a world where people won’t enjoy it as much as I did. Simply put, I love it.
Rogue Legacy 2 is developed and published by Canada’s Cellar Door Games. Rogue Legacy 2 was released for Windows via early access in August 2020. It is the sequel to 2013’s popular Rogue Legacy. The new game launches for Xbox Series S|X and Steam today, April 28.