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Games Of June 2013: Rogue Legacy

It’s a family affair.

By John Teti • July 25, 2013

We wrap up The Digest’s week as Matt Gerardi joins me to dig into Rogue Legacy, which I reviewed earlier this month. I was pretty fond of all the games we discussed this week, but Rogue Legacy holds a special place in my heart. It’s also nice to get Matt in front of the camera, as he’s been part of the Gameological operation almost since day one. (And while we’re talking about former interns, a tip of the hat to Landon Gray Mitchell, who does all the video capture for The Digest.)

We also play the final round of Tweet That Treat! If you haven’t been watching, that’s our little game where the guest has to compose an on-the-spot review that comes as close to Twitter’s 140-character limit without going over. Since Matt handles the sprawling tendrils of Gameological’s vast social-media empire—and because he had the advantage of watching the other guests make their own attempts—this should have been easy for him. So I decided to add an extra 15-character degree of difficulty to his attempt. Watch to see how he fares.

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  • PaganPoet

    Oh lord, Fun Dip was my JAM when I was a kid. I used to use my finger to eat the Kool-Aid/sugar powder and then eat the chalky stick afterwards. Fun Dip IS of great pulchritudinous, I have not witnessed such beauty in years!

    Rogue Legacy sounds interesting. Funnily enough, the most recent Breath of Fire game, Dragon Quarter, has sort of a similar concept, and I couldn’t stand it. You’re not expected to beat the game on your first go. Once your character perma-dies, you start from the beginning again, but you retain all accumulated items, equipment and skills. I didn’t have the patience for it when I played it years ago, and it was so different from the usual Breath of Fire formula that I was willing to dismiss it altogether. I’m wondering if I missed out? I loved every Breath of Fire game before that, so I wonder…

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      I passed on the game back in the day because of the reviews mentioning that stuff. A little while back I gave it a shot as at this point those idiosyncrasies sound interesting rather than annoying to me. Then finals happened, so I stopped for a bit and haven’t picked it up.

      One ‘issue’ I was having is more my fault than the game’s. I’m emulating it because I’m too lazy to hook my PS2 back up, and when playing on an emulator I tend to use save states as a crutch, which kind of breaks the ‘permadeath’ mechanic, as I can just reload. However, I did learn my lesson to use the in-game saves, as there came a point when I couldn’t help but die, and I could either restart from the very beginning or from my last ‘hard save,’ which I hadn’t been doing at all up til that point…

    • CrabNaga

      In Dead Rising, you didn’t have permadeath, but the nature of the game (mission time windows and such) meant that you’d often screw something up pretty badly on your first run. However, you could then simply restart the game and retain all of your levels. When I play these games, I generally just ignore the greater plot and side missions while I go around acclimating myself to the game world and getting some nice chunks of experience out of it as well. Then I’ll just restart and have a decently powerful Frank or Chuck right from the get-go, both in terms of stats and game knowledge. I wonder if Dead Rising 3 will be like this, or if that’s a bit too harsh for Call of Duty fans.

      • http://starttocrate.tumblr.com/ Http Lovecraft

        I love this component of the Dead Rising games, even though people are generally so critical of time limits and having to replay content.

        I prefer to think of it as a Groundhog’s Day-like arc for you and your character.

      • caspiancomic

         Yeah, I really enjoyed that aspect of the Dead Rising games, I thought it was a really smart mechanic. The first time through the game was time for exploration, rescuing survivors, and very pointedly not fighting any optional psychopaths. It did feel a little cruel in Dead Rising 2 to deliberately refuse to collect Zombrex for your sick daughter, but hey. I made up for it during my next go-around by getting her like fifty giant stuffed animals.

    • Effigy_Power

      I love that the marketing department of whatever biochemical waste factory that makes Wonka candy felt the need to call it “Fun Dip”. I am pretty sure they were aware that nobody would call this dyed and flavored abrasive powder “fun” on their own.
      It’s a bit like when people point at a KFC or a Taco Bell and make a big deal out of how that’s technically food.

    • ShrikeTheAvatar

      The stick is obviously the best part.  I would’ve bought only those if they sold them.

  • NakedSnake

    I’ve mentioned it before, but I really feel like the roguelike trend is actually an outcropping of the retro game trend. The “hardcore” aspect of these games, with their constant game overs (games over?), is a familiar feeling for anyone who lived and played through the NES era. When Gerardi describes the basic frustration with these games (“I made it so far, but then I slipped up and lost everything”), it could apply to retro arcade ports or modern roguelikes. It leaves a bitter taste. Randomizing the levels, though, respresents a significant improvement over the NES era because it at least keeps the action fresh. And I really feel like Rogue Legacy might have hit on a powerful idea with their Rogue-LITE idea. I felt a whole lot better about my inevitable death on each run knowing that it wasn’t a complete waste. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a regular feature of Roguelikes in the future.

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      Rogue Legacy definitely shakes up the usual roguelike progression system, but it’s not all in the player’s favor. Most roguelikes have the player go up in power as they progress, either by gaining experience or through pickups. This game, however, doesn’t allow you any real changes while you’re in the castle; you can only increase your power from outside the castle with your next descendant. Fortunately, the enemies don’t scale relative to your level when you go into the castle, so you can build up power over multiple generations if you need to, but once you’re in the castle you have nothing but skill to help you.

      • NakedSnake

        That’s true. I could see future games creating a hybrid system, though. You can build stats over time, but you can only get powerups in the castle. Leveling up allows you more slots for powerups. A special unlock allows you to carry a single powerup over from a previous playthough, etc. etc. etc.

        In general, I find that new trends in gaming start out hardcore, and then gradually become easier and more accessible.

      • CrabNaga

        I would love it if you were able to upgrade your dude while you were still alive. Maybe they could balance it out by making it more expensive or something, but I would really like to try playing this game like a real roguelike and getting through to the end in one go.

        The major hurdle with implementing something like this is that: with the way the game is set up, it’s actually very quick to get through the castle. The game world isn’t particularly large, especially if you’re triple-jumping, flying, or dashing all over the place like I ended up doing. When I got into NG+, I was probably able to clear the game within 2 hours or so (and probably only about a dozen heirs). NG+2, on the other hand, is an absolute nightmare.

        Another hurdle would be the money and equipment you’d find, since it seems like the game rewards you with equipment over time and getting upgrades in a single run would be problematic since you’d probably be capped at some level of equipment when normally you’d have a tier or two higher when beating the game normally.

  • caspiancomic

    *The sound of hundreds of Google searches for “define: pulchritudinous”*

    Man, this video is making me really, really want to play Rogue Legacy, I hope this thing comes to Mac at some point. I’m pretty sure several months ago I actually half-pitched a game similar to this in these very comment sections (the idea of having a goal that was impossibly grand for a single adventurer, but feasible over several generations, was present at least). So obviously an actual realization of that half-idea would be pretty satisfying for me.

    Sidenote of only extremely tenuous connection: while we’re on the subject of cereal, what do we think of a coffee themed cereal? Like how a chocolate cereal turns your milk into weird chocolatey milk stuff, this would turn your milk into like a coffee drink sort of thing? My friends and I were throwing this idea around. Market it to college age kids, maybe? We were gonna call ‘em “Espress-Os.”

    • PaganPoet

      Not to put a damper on your dream, but…who will eat it? I don’t know that many kids who like coffee, and adults…well, we’re just concerned about which cereal has the most fiber and will make us poop.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        College-age kids fucking love their Starbucks. The number of students in morning lectures with coffee cups is ridiculous. Espress-Os might encourage them not to skip the first meal of the day, because it would provide their caffeine and breakfast in one go.

    • NakedSnake

      Your coffee cereal idea is a winner and never should have been expressed in a public forum like this one. Run, don’t walk, to the Snacks and Comestibles department at the U.S. patent office before it’s too late.

    • CNightwing

      Obviously hundreds of people never studied Latin!

      • Fluka

        This episode of The Digest marks the first time my six years of intensive Latin study finally payed off.

        • CNightwing

          Felici temporibus! I think. It’s been a while.

          Is there a word for words that are the opposite of onomatopoeic – that sound the opposite of what they mean? I think pulcher is one of those words, nothing about it sounds beautiful.

        • Fluka

          @CNightwing:disqus If I remembered anything else from my six years of Latin, I could probably tell you!

        • Chris Hansen

          @CNightwing:disqus Something like false cognate?

    • Effigy_Power

      It’s one of those games where everything calls to me. The legacy system looks superfun, CK2-style-traits are always good and whatnot, but I just can’t get over the fact that it’s a platformer, which I dislike and am really not good at.
      There have been a few games recently where a single element has been so off-putting to me that I admittedly missed out on some other, really neat features.
      I guess that makes me somewhat self-limiting, but then I have a pretty good hold usually on what I will find fun and platformers are not in that department. And since I play first and foremost for fun, I just can’t really get over that.
      Now, if someone wants to make an RPG with that sort of legacy mechanic, where I play a new generation of the same clan each chapter, I am game for that.

      PS: Coffee-themed cereal just sounds sort of odd.
      (I’d have a Cow&Chicken clip here from the episode where Chicken eats Coffee Flakes for breakfast, but CN isn’t big on letting youtube show those, what with Cow and Chicken being so marketable still. And off the air for over a decade. :rolleyes: )

      • NakedSnake

        If you want to take a trip back, way back to the year 1990, Sega Genesis’ Phantasy Star III implemented the multi-generational RPG idea, and did a pretty good job at it. You even got to affect who you played as in subsequent generations depending on who you married. Unfortunately, it only spanned 3 generations. 

        • Effigy_Power

           I think it’s a fertile and pretty underused aspect, the whole generational gap. Fable always seemed like it was just thinking about it but then always wussed out last minute. And in CK2 you can hardly call it a neat gimmick, since it’s the entire games core mechanic.
          I for one wouldn’t mind seeing how Skyrim would look through the eyes of my Orc Warrior’s adopted daughter or whether Hawke and Isabela’s daughter would be too gorgeous for Thedas to handle.
          Get on that, game-devs.

        • NakedSnake

          @Effigy_Power:disqus Red Dead also does a good job with giving you a sense of how you might look to your child. I would say that in general, the “fresh look at the protagonist” is an underused mechanism. It’s so jarring in a game (or even a sequel), when you change perspectives to a new character and suddenly you can see how violent, creative, or influential the original player character was. What’s more, it’s something that gaming can do a little better than other mediums. Any time you can have the audience rethinking everything they themselves just experienced by seeing it through someone else’s eyes, you have a real opportunity to expand their perspective and teach them something. It’s Sunday school role-playing come to life!

        • Effigy_Power

          I think a good idea would be to play a violent conqueror in the first act and then the conqueror’s offspring in the second, who has to repair the damage done. It would definitely give you a great perspective of how easily (or not) it came to you as a player to murder, pillage and destroy.

      • caspiancomic

         One of the various Double Fine games currently in production, Massive Chalice, uses this sort of multi-generational conceit to carry what’s described as a “tactical RPG”, if that sounds like something more your speed. Apparently you’re going to have to make major decisions along the way about whether you want certain soldiers to continue fighting on the front lines, or retire them so they can return home and raise your next generation of warriors. Sounds pretty interesting.

        • Effigy_Power

          We’ll see if the GDP of a small nation promised on Kickstarter will get that somewhere anytime soon. ^_^

  • The_Helmaroc_King

    Favorite class/trait/spell, go go go!

    Class: Shinobi/Hokage. Not particularly strong in HP or MP, but hits like a truck.
    Trait: Stereo Blind. “Cannot see in 3D”. Every sprite gets the Paper Mario effect.
    Spell: Scythes. Has superb range, throws out two scythes, and hits above and ahead.

    • NakedSnake

      I love the barbarian/vampire gear build, since health is still high at the outset and stays high. But scythes for sure. Plus they go through walls.

    • CNightwing

      Paladin, they’re really durable and great against bosses.
      IBS, hilarious, and the timing is sometimes just amazing.
      Conflux, dammit I love those things bouncing around.

    • lokimotive

      Class: Barbarian. I’ve found that my play style includes a lot of getting hit, so having a hero with 600 some hit points (at this point), really helps me. The Shinobi/Hokage is a lot of fun, though, especially with E.D.S.
      Trait: Probably P.A.D. I just love not having to worry about those damn spikes.
      Spells: I gotta say, I hardly ever use spells, which is really odd, but I think it’s a toss up between the Conflux that @CNightwing:disqus mentioned, and the dagger, just because I like to know exactly where it’s going to end up. My least favorite is the Sword wall. I can’t fucking figure out how to use that damn thing.

      Worst thing in the entire game, though, is the damn Hedgehog’s curse.

      • CrabNaga

        Sword Wall is great against most of the bosses, since they either move slowly or are gigantic. 

        • lokimotive

          That makes sense, but then I have to sit there behind the wall to lure them towards it instead of actively dodging. I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem to do enough damage to make that worthwhile, but that may be because I haven’t put a lot of points in Magic damage.

    • The_Misanthrope

       My  favorites thus far (opinion may change as I unlock more):

      Class:  Archmage.  Weak on HP but I like the freedom of having a lot of spells at my disposal. 
      Trait:  Dwarfism.  Yeah, it screws with the range of your swing, but you also have a smaller hitbox.
      Spell:  Chakram.  Quick, straight-ahead, and hits on the return path.

      Most hated trait:  Vertigo would be the obvious answer, I suppose, but of the traits that theoretically be useful, I found ADHD to be the most annoying.

      • lokimotive

        The biggest advantage of Dwarfism, of course, is access to special areas. The only problem is I can never find them when I’m a Dwarf. I only.

      • Matt Gerardi

        Oh man, I hated ADHD. I just got too used to the normal movement, and that added speed would send me fidgeting into all sorts of nasty things.

    • CrabNaga

      Class: Barbarian. Hits like a truck and can take a beating.
      Trait: I usually go for any/all the traits that provide actual bonuses, but my favorite one that doesn’t really impact the game is Insanity. Clearing a room and going back into it spawns new enemies, but they can’t hurt you and vice versa.
      Spell: Depending on the class, for Archmage or Spellsword: Fire Shield. Does a ton of damage but takes a ton of MP to cast. For basically any other class, it would probably be the Scythe.

    • MisterTeapot

      Class: Paladin. Every other class gets nerfed on melee damage, except shinobi which doesn’t get crits (and supposedly doesn’t scale well)  Plus the [down]+”A” that puts you into statue mode is great for quick protection from fireballs and bullets.

      Trait: Eid. Memory . Can’t believe this one doesn’t get more love.  The desciription says it “remembers enemy positions” but in practice, it gives you live radar for the room you are in.  So upon entering a room you can quickly check map for enemy positions and then take most enemies out with…

      Spell: Dagger. Predictable flight path including off-screen, and at 7mp per cast (after mana cost upgrades) you get a LOT of them, with any class.  And if you pair with with Eid.Mem you can often clear entire rooms without even seeing enemies.

      I like PAD but I’m so used to avoiding spikes that I never get any real value from it.  HATE dementia, especially when it triggers in a room full of real enemies with real bullets.

      Also like to throw some love for Savant trait.  Spell changes everytime you use it, but (at least with baladin/barb) picks between Dagger, Scythe, Conflux, Axe and Sword.  Opens up some really neat strategies, and can help you get those Kill all Enemies fairie chests.

      Anyway, I f’n love this game, thanks Gamelogical!

  • http://twitter.com/closedmouth Annabelle

    Hey, that music is from Smarter Every Day. Awesome.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/destinws2

  • Cole Chapman

    Rouge Legacy’s one of those games that should go multiplatform as soon as possible. In fact, I’m a little surprised it hasn’t already! There’s a strong viral following behind this game and the fact that I can’t play it on my measly macbook is a huge bummer.

  • Connor McCleod

    Despite exposing my shameful ineffectiveness and ignorance, I come forward begging for help. Can someone please enlighten me as to why my iPad, PC and android phone will not play any of the recent Digest videos? All of them load a static image where the video should be. I was able to watch the Last of Us video, but only because it was uploaded on youtube. Thanks.