I am the slayer of zombies, the knife in the dark, the caster of great magics, the slayer of Hdir. I am Sir Gans, the second of my name. I crouch on a ledge, feeling the cold stone beneath my feet, breathing the musty air of a castle centuries old. I see the Gray Knight shambling below me. His is all that stands between me and the castle exit to the forest beyond. I prepare to strike from above, my legs tensing for the leap onto the Gray Knight’s head. As I spring upon my quarry, a loud rumble emanates from my loins. The Gray Knight is split asunder by my falling strike, my flatulence the last sound on his ears.
After the jump, farting around in a dungeon.
Rogue Legacy is a 2D platformer with the feel of Castlevania. It has an adorable cartoonish look to it, but don’t let that fool you. Rogue Legacy will slap your hand when you reach into the cookie jar. There are four distinct dungeons, each with its own look and difficulty. If you carelessly venture into a new dungeon before you are prepared, as Sir Gans did, you will pay the price dearly and often quickly. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and reveal the ultimate fate of our intrepid hero yet.
Sir Gans was born a near-sighted barbarian king with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He was able to take advantage of the many home castle upgrades and expansions his ancestors provided. Had he been born even a few generations before, he would have merely been born a barbarian, and would have lacked the ability to “shout”, a nice nod to Skyrim and one of the many nods to videogame culture. The shout ability is extremely useful in that it allows you to clear certain projectiles from the screen and push back enemies. Additionally, Sir Gans has upgraded armor, damage, and health which all help his durability as he traverses the castle. However, Sir Gans also has genetic traits that effect the gameplay. In Sir Gans’ case, the effects are fairly cosmetic. The near-sightedness causes the screen to blur except for a ring in close proximity. This can make navigation and combat planning difficult. Unfortunately for Sir Gans, he was also born with IBS. I imagine this would make plundering a castle difficult and uncomfortable. In Rogue Legacy, when Sir Gans jumps or dashes, he occasionally passes gas.
The ability to upgrade and enhance your character is reminiscent of the iOS game 10000000, and it scratches the same itch for me. Instead of each run being its own unique start from square one — which can be frustrating, although rewarding when done correctly — the castle upgrades allow you to feel as though you have accomplished something, even if you don’t clear the entire game in one pass. There is a nice feedback loop in that each upgrade costs more, demanding better performance in the dungeon in order to unlock additional upgrades. In addition, each upgrade unlocks further options for classes, or upgradeable characteristics that are hidden at the start of the game. Putting a point into each upgrade can be advantageous as you never know what you might unlock next.
Sir Gans actually had my most successful run for me at the time. I was able to clear out the entirety of the castle. I even discovered one of the sub-bosses who I handily defeated, which yielded a large amount of gold. These sub-bosses are a great example of the risk/reward mechanics baked into the game. They tend to be more powerful versions of enemies encountered elsewhere, and they can take a toll on your health and resources. Doing poorly in this fight can damage your ability to progress further on a given run. However, their defeat will yield large amounts of gold or stat bonuses.
After I defeated the sub-boss, I moved on to fight one of the four main bosses, one in each of the four dungeons. The boss — Hdir is pictured below — was a large eyeball in the center of the room. The fight required a lot of precise movement and agility. Patience here was key. In my first few tries against Hdir, I went for the kill early, and got caught out of place by the projectiles. Patience and upgrades paid off in the end.
Fortunately Sir Gans and I prevailed against the large boss, and I was rewarded with a large treasure chest with bonus stat boosts and an extremely large amount of gold. After the boss fight, I navigated back towards the forest entrance which I had found on a previous run, and decided to venture inside. But the castle had not prepared me for the forest. Each part of the dungeon is its own level of difficulty, and there are also new enemy types, and similar looking enemies with new abilities. Sad to say, Sir Gans fell to what I thought was a standard skeleton; it was actually a newer, faster, stronger type called a McRib. Sir Gans, slain by a McRib. Sounds like the fate of Americans everywhere, though it’ll just be the cholesterol and not the damage from a thrown bone.
In the next entry: how I learned to stop worrying and love the knave.
Andrew Kneller is a chemistry graduate student and avid gamer. When he isn’t busy kicking laser tables and trying to teach undergrads, he and his wife play videogames and watch movies together. You can find him on the Quarter to Three forums as TREOS.