As I perish in this game for about the two-hundredth time I’m going to level with you. Rogue Legacy really fucking sucks. It’s frustrating, extremely difficult at times and there are more than a few occassions where it makes you want to throw your controller – or console if you’re playing on the Vita like I am. All that aside, it’s a pretty awesome game and it’s quite addicting too.

Bordering on Dark Souls-ish difficulty levels, Rogue Legacy reminds me a lot of the old school Ghosts and Goblins platformers. For a few of you, those games might be way before your time. Let’s just say they were blisteringly difficult, but incredibly satisfying and rewarding – when you could beat them.

Rogue Legacy has been dubbed a “rogue-lite,” in a time where rogue-like games are becoming a trend. If you’ve never encountered them before, a true rogue-like game is one that wipes your progress every time you die. In addition, death is permanent in that every character you die with – is lost forever. A lot of rogue-like games have procedurally generated worlds to explore – or dungeons – but that’s not necessarily a staple of the genre. Rogue Legacy has been dubbed “lite” because of how death works.

Rogue Legacy upgrade area

Every time you die in the game your character is lost forever. However, unlike most rogue-like games which rely on your skill increasing as progression, Rogue Legacy actually features a progression system. After death, you choose an heir – which is where the word “Legacy” comes in for the title. Every heir is given a random series of attributes, or ailments if you will. In other words, every playthrough is unique. All gold, upgrades and equipment you purchased with an ancestor is passed down to your new character. It is in this way that the progression system works. As long as you make enough gold during each pass through the randomly generated dungeon, you can buy upgrades to use with your succeeding characters. Over time – after you’ve died hundreds of times like me – you will eventually build a powerful character allowing you to get further through the dungeon, hopefully far enough to beat it.

With every new generation, you have the option to choose between three different heirs. Each one will have their own set of attributes – or ailments – depending on what the game throws at you. These are things like near-sightedness, which keeps a small portion of the screen around the character visible while everything else is blurry. There’s also vertigo which actually flips the screen upside down, challenging you to play that way. The allure is that each playthrough is different, but if you get stuck with a really shitty attribute – it only lasts until you die. Then you’re free to pick a new character with a new set of attributes.

Long story short the game flows like this: pick a character, buy your upgrades, enter the dungeon, slay tons of baddies until you die, rinse and repeat.

Rogue Legacy castle upgrades

There are tons of upgrades which do things like boost character skills, health, mana, strength and more. You can also upgrade each character class, of which you pick at random before every new generation. You can also purchase armor and weapons which offer even more attributes, as well as runes which do the same thing in terms of character add-ons.

Interestingly enough, the entire dungeon is randomly generated every time you die. However, you have the opportunity to unlock an architect a little later in the game, and for a small sum you can lock down the dungeon to keep the previous version. So, to reiterate, every time you die your next character gets an entirely new dungeon. Let’s say you make it far and learn the layout pretty good before getting slain. After you die, you can lock-down the dungeon by paying the architect with your next character and it will remain the same. It’s worth noting that if you want to keep the same dungeon indefinitely you’ll have to pay between every run – which means you better be earning a lot of gold with each life.

You also have to forfeit all your gold every time you enter the dungeon. This adds an extra layer of difficulty, as it’s tough to collect enough gold for upgrades early on. Eventually, this becomes less and less a problem as you learn the ropes and make gold more consistently with each life.

Rogue Legacy upgrade area

A lot of the enemies, and gameplay itself is repetitive but that’s not an issue with Rogue Legacy. There’s enough variance to keep things interesting, including different biomes of the dungeon and boss enemies.

Exclusive to the Vita version are several trophies – read: achievements – one of which is really fucking hard to get. Just so you know, you have to beat the game in under fifteen lives to get it. Good fucking luck with that.

Rogue Legacy is about $15 through Steam, but it’s $16.99 through PSN – for Vita, PS3 or PS4. I’m assuming it’s about the same price for Microsoft’s consoles too. Don’t worry, I’m not a Playstation fanboy I just haven’t fired up my Xbox in a while. I bought the game for my Vita at full price. Normally, I wait for a Steam sale to get my games on PC but Rogue Legacy is absolutely perfect for a portable game. I don’t regret spending the money one bit, in fact, if it offered cross-platform support between PC and Vita (it does through the Playstation lineup) then I’d probably buy it again on Steam.

If you’re a stickler for these types of games – or just want something a little more difficult than a lot of titles hitting the market – you can’t go wrong with Rogue Legacy. I highly recommend it.