When it comes to indie games, the roguelike is currently one of the most popular styles. Featuring heavy randomization of stages/items/characters and often including permanent character death, it's an unforgiving style of game that crosses genre boundaries and rewards truly dedicated players who've learned their systems inside and out.
While I understand their appeal, it's not the style for me. Careful stage design and item distribution, from Super Mario Bros to Metal Gear Solid to Dark Souls, is something I love in a game. It's one of my favorite aspects to examine, and one that I'm continuously trying to improve in my own games. I've played plenty of roguelikes and given up after a couple of runs, as I didn't feel any sort of reward for continued play, even when it's a game whose core mechanics I enjoy, like Spelunky.
When I first downloaded Rogue Legacy, a game that mixes the castle exploration and action-platforming of a modern Castlevania title with the randomization and punishing difficulty of a roguelike, I was apprehensive. I'm happy to say that I really had a lot of fun playing through it, in spite of my initial wariness.
|Facing down the Bonemen|
Cellar Door Games' Rogue Legacy drops a weak knight into a hostile castle full of skeletons, angry paintings, and eyeball monsters with the expectation that this first character will quickly die. In each progressive attempt at conquering the castle, players get to choose one of three (later six) descendents of their dead hero, each of whom keeps all of the ancestor's weapons, armor, and unlocked abilities.
The castle shifts (though you can pay a character to make sure it stays as it is) and the heroic heirs feature random stats and character classes (three initially, with more to unlock) but there's still a sense of permanence to the game that makes failure feel like less of a waste of time than I usually get from roguelikes. You get to keep your gold until you begin a new run, bosses stay dead, and you're constantly unlocking new gear that carries over. Even when I failed a run unusually fast, I still felt like I was slowly getting somewhere. It makes the game easier than most of its cousins, but it also makes it a more enjoyable experience for people like me.
|One of the heir traits makes the map a lot busier.|
|You can also hang out with a rude clown.|