Cellar Door’s roguelite-platformer Rogue Legacy has finally released on Switch. Players take the role of a knight whose family is fated to conquer a deadly, evolving castle. Expect a tough-as-nails adventure through a brutal kingdom laden with deadly traps, aggressive monsters, and intense platforming. Being a roguelite, every run through Rogue Legacy boasts a freshly-generated castle with a never-before-seen arrangement of monsters, environments, and challenges. Luckily, the Rogue Legacy Switch port runs well, so if you’ve played the game already, you know what you’re getting into–and you can probably already imagine how great this fits on Switch. If you haven’t played Rogue Legacy, there has never been a better time or place than right now and on the Switch.
The gameplay, a defining aspect of any roguelite, is great. Each run begins with choosing an heir from a constantly-growing family tree. Heirs have unique classes and traits. Among the many traits are nearsightedness, which blurs most of the screen, and Alzheimer’s, which has you struggle to remember the map. Classes allow you to play as mages, paladins, shinobi, and more. Once you enter the castle, you can swing your sword (or cast spells), dodge enemies and traps, and precisely hop through cramped passages, treacherous spikes, and the occasional impromptu bullet hell. Simple platforming and combat make up the bulk of your experience, but a constant trickle of new characters, items, abilities, and gear goes a long way in keeping it fresh as you struggle to reach the end of the castle.
I must emphasize–you will struggle, a lot. Rogue Legacy is very challenging. Even nudging a monster costs a lot of health. You cannot endure more than a few hits, especially early on. This difficulty could turn off newcomers, but I found a generous progression system that offset any possible frustration. You collect coins during your treks through the castle. After you die, you can spend these coins on upgrades, such as health boosts, new equipment, and unlockable characters. You have to spend the coins or lose them, because they do not carry over between runs. These upgrades are immensely encouraging thanks to immediately observable results: as soon as your next run, monster-slaying may get just a pinch easier.
As a result, instead of feeling dejected after a short-lived run, I was encouraged to dive back in over and over. One More Run Syndrome is absolutely a side effect of playing Rogue Legacy. Part of that is because the fully portable Rogue Legacy Switch port is very easy to pick up and play, but most of it is because, aside from aiming to beat the game itself, there are always small goals to work towards. The castle constantly chewing me up and spitting me out did not hurt as much when I went in thinking, “Okay, I want to boost my crit rate, so let’s get at least 200 coins this run.” Over time, these upgrades get harder to unlock, but that’s okay, because you get stronger and optimally equipped in the process.
On the topic of my many, many deaths, Rogue Legacy takes an interesting approach to contextualize the multiple runs you no doubt need to complete the game. The aforementioned family tree records and names each death. Die too quickly, and that run is forever preserved as “Jane the Useless Paladin” or something similar. More successful runs are remembered as something like “Stout” or “Legendary.” The family tree, viewable before each new run, is a creative way to illustrate just how many times you fail before you can successfully complete the castle.
Rogue Legacy has found a loving home on Switch. If you have played Rogue Legacy before, and want just a bit more of it in your life, a portable version is a great pick-up. If you have not tried it before, the Switch edition is a perfect entry point.