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[Dtoid community blogger Wrenchfarm shares an incredibly comprehensive guide for anyone interested in tackling the awesome “rogue-lite” game, Rogue Legacy. Want to see your own words appear on the front page? Go write something! –Mr Andy Dixon]
Rogue Legacy can be nasty. But I suppose that’s to be expected. This is a game that takes its cues from roguelikes and celebrates a long trail of dead grandpappys and gam-gams as one of its main selling points.
The developers, Cellar Door Games, have dubbed the genealogical mis-adventures of the Rogue family a “rogue-lite.” Similar to other recent roguelike games such as Binding of Isaac and Spelunky, Rogue Legacy features an ever changing dungeon filled to the brim with ridiculously lethal monsters and flagrantly unfair traps, all presented with a perversely masochistic glee. Where it differs from its sadistic peers is its sense of continuance.
While each hero may only have one life to live (and impale upon a spike), the treasures and items he or she accumulates is passed to their next of kin. Bizarre elements foreign to the roguelike mindset, such as stat upgrades and ability expanding items, enter the mix.
Unlike Isaac, where the entire game is a mission to see the end (or at least how far you’ll get), Rogue Legacy has more of a gradual slope. You know it’s unlikely you’ll take your first few heroes all the way to the end, or maybe even to the first boss. But that’s okay, because success in Rogue Legacy isn’t just determined by how far one gets, but what they amass and pass on.
It’s a lovely blending of genres that, like many blindingly brilliant ideas, is so amazing that it somehow becomes obvious in retrospect. Of course someone had to make a game like this. It’s the perfect entry point for a new audience just dipping their feet into roguelikes.
Despite the fluffy exterior of being a new audience-friendly “rogue-lite”, it’s still damn tough. For such a cute looking game, there is a lot to learn and a lot to screw up. I played the absolute hell out of Rogue Legacy and made my fair share of boneheaded errors and dumbfounding revelations figuring things out.
Somewhere between Sir Elroy the II (while I was still hoarding MP and ignoring my crit stat) and Lady Lisa the VI (when I was routinely humiliating the monsters of the Depths), I thought, “gee, wouldn’t it be handy if someone could write down some tips for all the new players who never played rougelikes, and all the rougelike veterans who will probably play this game wrong?” (Add an unspoken “like me” to the end of that sentence.)
And so I started writing this survival guide.
I’ve tried to include an overview of what I consider the important elements of the game without going into so much detail that it spoils everything. I mean, I suppose you could just go to a wiki or something and learn the exact details about everything, but that isn’t much fun. This guide aims to give you knowledge and advice to make your own decisions and choices as you explore the game. Like the generations of the Rogue family, I’m hoping you can benefit from my many previous failures and frustrations.
Each generation, you get to choose between three possible children who will carry on your legacy. Each child comes with a randomly chosen class, spell, and has the potential for multiple traits.
Each class comes with different attributes and class abilities (after unlocking their upgrade, which I assume you’ll do ASAP since it’s a no-brainer). While some differences may be obvious, others are more subtle. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each class and how to use them best is probably the most important concept in the game.
Knight/Paladin – The most basic character and deceptively, one of the strongest. The Knight is the baseline class every other class is balanced around. He has full health, full mana, and regular damage with both sword and spell, offering dependable stats across the board with nothing exceptional. How boring.
Where this class really shines is its special ability, the shield. This thing is ridiculously good. For the cost of 25 MP, the Knight can block any and all damage as long as you hold down the button and have mana left to burn. Regrettably, I didn’t get how great this ability was until later in the game. My dumb mind made me think you had to be facing the right direction to block incoming damage, or that it only deflected projectiles. Truth is, just holding the button makes you immune to basically everything. You can even use it in the air. Try jumping onto a floor of spikes while holding block and surfing the length of the room, handy for some pesky green chest runs.
I’ll say it plainly, the Knight is easy mode – once you get used to popping the shield often, you can trivialize a lot of enemies in the game, even some of the bosses. A great choice for almost any run. Given how difficult the game gets in the later areas and NG+, you’ll be glad for this “easy” character.
Barbarian – Upsetting my strictly held stereotypes about savage berserker warriors, the Barbarian is not a damage dealing machine. With a swing that deals 75% of the Knight’s damage, a shallow mana pool, and laughable spell damage, the Barbarian isn’t the wrecking ball of devastation you might hope for. The Barbarian is however a huge slab of meat.
The Barbarian’s unique talent is the ability to soak tons of damage. A massive HP boost makes the Barb the tankiest character. Slap some health leaching vampire equipment on one and it’ll keep going for days.
The Barbarian’s special ability is the completely non-copyright infringing “Dragon Shout.” This mighty roar will obliterate any projectiles on screen, shove back nearby enemies, and splinter all the chairs, candelabras, and antiques in the area.
Barbarians. Can’t take them anywhere.
The Barbarian is a great choice to take on bosses. It might not hit hard, but you get lots of HP to make mistakes with and the projectile scattering shout renders several of the bosses as powerless and impotent as the assistant night-manager of an Arby’s restaurant.
Mage/Arch Mage – Unlike the uppity Barbarian, the wizard plays the stereotypical class tropes straight up. A wimpy sword arm, tiny brittle bones, amazing magic damage and mana, and a rocking beard (even on the girls). Yup, pretty wizard.
As you might expect, you have to crutch on magic with the Mage more than any other class. As a huge proponent of sagely beards and pointy hats it pains me to say it, but the Mage starts out pretty weak. Even with the bonus MP, you still can’t cast too many axes or crows before running on empty, and the damage isn’t there at the start. So you’re stuck running into battle like a ten year old with asthma.
But as you level up your magic stats you’ll see a marked improvement. True to form, the Magecan become one of the most powerful classes, but it takes awhile to get there.
The Mage’s big class ability is the Magic Cycle, a fancy term meaning he can swap between three randomly selected spells. This is a little better than it sounds. Magic is really handy in Rogue Legacy, and getting a good spread of spells that can hit different areas of the screen will let you cheap out enemies without exposing yourself to harm – like a cowardly wizard should.
The same flexibility will let you claim a lot of green fairy chests. As you explore, you’ll frequently come across chests that implore you to take out enemies in odd arrangements behind walls, or navigate a bunch of spammy monsters up or down a chute without taking damage. This is a lot easier when you can just hurl a variety of things at them.
Knave/Assassin – The rogue of Rogue Legacy, the Knave is potentially one of the best classes, with a little love and quick some reflexes.
The Knave starts with disadvantaged stats in every category, but with a large bonus to critical hit chance and crit damage. He’s a class for gamblers that are willing to trust in their ability to dodge incoming damage rather than soak it. If you invest in the passive crit chance and crit damage stat, the Knave can really take off. It’s easy to look past his low health when he’s critting for triple damage on more than half his hits.
The Assassin upgrade gives you the ability to instantly blink into mist, with projectiles and enemies passing harmlessly through you. A great way to avoid damage, but it will eat through your mana bar in a hurry, so try to use it in small bursts. The mist form will also occasionally help you complete otherwise difficult fairy chest challenges, like running through a series of traps unharmed.
Shinobi/Hokage – The Shinobi hits harder than any class in the game and comes with a natural speed boost. Sadly, he pays for these advantages at the cost of middling health and mana, and a complete inability to crit. Where the Knave offers the highs and lows of chance, the Shinobi has consistently strong performance.
If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll probably love the Shinobi at the start. The extra damage is immediately more useful than the still developing talents of the Knave and Mage, and the trade off of low health for more speed makes sense early on when everybody’s health sucks anyway – your always better off dodging attacks then soaking them.
As the other classes develop, the shine will come off the ninjitsu apple. Critical hits and magic will be doing more damage, and defensive class abilities like the shield and shout become just shy of necessary as the game creeps towards bullet hell levels of insanity.
Speaking of abilities, the Shinobi’s trait is interesting (“interesting” being the word one uses when they want to be kind but are struggling to find nice things to say.) The Shinobi can instantly teleport forward in a set distance leaving one of those cool tree-stump-ninja-decoys behind. It can get you out of a pinch, but I found it just as often teleported me into a different enemy or a bed of spikes as it helped. Maybe I’m just not ninja enough to use it right.
Miner/Spelunker – Greed is good. So good you might be tempted to use this weak class.
The Miner/Spelunker is bad at everything. Half the health and magic of the Knight, hits about as hard as the Barbarian, and has by far the lamest class ability. But there is one saving grace, any gold you pick up as a Miner will be worth 30% more. It might not sound like a lot, but it adds up quick. Whether or not that money is worth risking a short life with this scrappy also-ran is your call.
I actually found a nice niche for my Spelunkers. If you’ve unlocked a few Bounty runes and a difficulty reducing Grace rune, you can make a nice pile of money by stacking cash bonuses in an easier gameworld. The combination of a weak character and a scaled back castle makes it feel like the start of the legacy again, but that’s not a bad thing. By the time you get the Miner and equipment to run him, you’ll probably be pretty comfortable with the game and able to turn a good amount of cash before inevitably dieing. Just don’t try to take on any bosses with this limp dick.
Oh yeah, the class ability? The Miner’s map comes pre-populated with treasure locations (handy for steering what may be a short life towards the most gold possible) and a head lamp that can light up the Depths. Cue the sad trombones and sarcastic clapping.
Spellthief/Spellsword – This is an odd one, the Spellsword has a mix of stats. Average health and strength, a tiny mana pool, and kickass magic damage. The trick to making this class work is leveraging its unique traits.
With every physical attack, the Spellsword steals 30% of the damage worth of mana. If you hit for 100 damage, you get 30 MP back. So even though the Spellsword has a fairly tiny capacity for MP, you never have to worry much about refilling it, so feel free to spam that magic!
The Spellsword can conjure up enhanced versions of spells at an increased cost. This generally means a literally bigger, and more damaging, version of whatever he’s casting.
The Spellsword becomes ungodly powerful in the late game when you’ve lowered the costs of spells to the floor and do so much damage per swing that he can refill his entire bar with one lucky crit. If you have a decent spell you can clear out rooms just by mashing the magic button. As always, you don’t get to choose your magic and it’s a dice roll whether or not you’ll find another spell in the castle, so make sure your starting magic is something you’re comfortable with.
Oh yeah, if you’re lucky enough to get a Spellsword with the time-stop ability, congratulations! You’ve just broken the game!
Litch/Litch King – The most eccentric class, the Litch has below average strength, the highest magic damage, and terrible health and mana. His unique trait however increases his maximum health by 4 HP with every kill, eventually capping out around the Knight’s HP.
The interesting twist lies with his Conversion ability, which will take half his max HP and permanently plug it into his mana pool. So if you max out his HP and convert it a few times, you end up with the largest potential mana pool in the game, perfect for leveraging all those extra damaging spells.
I’ll be honest, this is all cool in concept, but I never really got much done with the Litch. You start with such low health it can be hard to get one going. And more than once I accidentally hit the Conversion button when I still had ghetto health, essentially dooming my poor little Litch.
I imagine it could be amazing with tricked out magic damage and a wealth of MP, but right now that is firmly in the realm of the hypothetical. I’ll stick with my dumb dumb Knights and Barbarians.
Dragon – Okay, I take it back, THIS is the most eccentric class.
The Dragon is only available after you’ve unlocked every other class and a bunch of stats, by the time you get to it you won’t be needing this silly guide for anything. Figure this weird-beard out for yourself!
Each potential hero has a random chance to have a trait or two. These run the gamut between utterly superficial jokes (like baldness), to game changing alterations (like the world flipping vertigo). Half the fun of the game is seeing what each trait does, so I won’t go into much depth and spoil it all.
Not all of the effects of each trait are immediately noticeable, so be observant. If something weird happens and you don’t know why, it might be a good idea to recheck your traits and see if that explains it.
That said, don’t be afraid to take a character that has what seem like bad traits. Best case scenario, you’ll discover some neat quirk or use for what seemed like a disadvantage. Worst case, you’ll have a fun little memory of trying to beat the castle upside down and with MP for health.
Most of the “spells” in Rogue Legacy are more recognizable as tools and backup weapons than straight up magic. Taking a card straight from Simon Belmont’s deck, the magic in Rogue Legacymore often takes the form of daggers, axes, and boomerangs than fireballs (but those are in there too). And just like in Castlevania, they are CRAZY HANDY.
Seriously, use your magic items. You don’t get a shiny ribbon at the end of the dungeon for having a full mana bar; all you’ll end up with is a frustration headache.
As with all games, I was initially hesitant to use much magic because I like to horde my resources “just in case.” When I finally wised up and started spamming magic at everything that moved, life got a lot easier.
Each spell works differently and you can generally tell how useful the developers thought each one was by looking at how much MP it costs to cast. The straight flying daggers do so-so damage and get stopped cold by walls, they’re the cheapest spell. Scythes and chakras that have the potential to hit multiple enemies multiple times and can breeze through walls, they cost a lot more. The game freezing stopwatch will empty your mana bar in seconds.
Experiment with each spell and learn to get the most out of them. This is doubly true for Spellswords and their upgraded versions. While the floating sword might seem humdrum for other classes, the massive barrier summoned by the Spellsword can really fuck shit up.
The cursed Castle you’ll be tossing generations of heroes to die in is made up of four separate areas – Castle Hamson, Forsest Abkhazia, The Maya, and The Land of Darkness. I usually just refer to them as the Castle, the Woods, the Tower, and the Depths. Each area represents a jump in difficulty and features different types of enemies and obstacles to be murdered by.
Although the layout changes with every generation, the general location of these areas is always the same. You start in the Castle, the Woods are vaguely towards the right, the Tower up top, and the Deep below, well you can probably guess.
Make sure you are comfortable with your current area before you jump into the next. While you get more treasure dipping into the harder areas, you’ll probably be better off wringing everything you can out of a survivable area than rushing into an area you can’t hack for a quick jackpot and even faster death.
Each area has it’s own boss, and you’ll need to beat all four of them before you can open the golden doors into the final encounter.
I’m not going to spoil the bosses. Part of the fun of the game is finding out what they look like and how to beat them. Just remember that some classes do better against some bosses than others. The Barbarian and Knight are fine choices for slaying big game, but a good Mage has a huge advantage in at least one fight. Experiment around!
Items and Interactables
Gold – Coins, bags, diamonds, it all spends. Gold is what you use to buy every piece of equipment, rune, and upgrade in the game. It’s almost better thought of as experience points. While you might not care too much about every penny and nickle in other games, you’d never leave XP on the table (as seasoned gamers we’re far too OCD about that sort of thing).
There are several ways to increase the amount of gold yielded on pickup and it’s wise to explore these options. Most family members are doomed to never fight a boss or even make it much further than their forebearers. The only thing they’ll accomplish is hoarding gold for the next generation, so try and make it worthwhile. (Come for the pro tips, stay for the guilt trip.)
As a side note, occasionally you’ll stumble on a weirdo called the Miserly Elf. Like everyone and everything else in this goddamn game, he’s a jerk. But he does provide a unique opportunity. For 25% of your gold you get a chance at opening 1-of-3 chests. Two of them contain nothing, one has triple what you paid in. The neat thing is, the gold is all paid out as literal coins and bags, so any bonuses you have on your gold earning ability count. While you pay in 25%, you can bring home more than double your money with a little luck and some bonuses. Maybe it’s the compulsive gambler in me, but I like those odds!
Chicken – Nothing beats random food found in the shattered remains of a furniture set or coughed up by a monster in its death throes. Chicken restores a chunk of health based on a percentage of your max HP. Enemies hit hard and frequently, so every single joint of chicken is invaluable.
Oh yeah, if you have a certain trait the chicken might be alive and hungry for your blood. Just so you know.
Potions – These blue potions restore a percentage of your MP. They fall out of random objects and enemies, so be sure to smash everything. You’ll see more MP potions than you will chicken, so you’re better off spending all your MP and playing it safe than taking damage.
Blueprints – Only found in fancy banded treasure chests, usually after defeating a mini-boss or behind a secret passage, blueprints are what you need for new equipment. After acquiring a blueprint, you’ll be able to have the blacksmith whip something up for the next generation. Sadly, you never just find a new and awesome breastplate or sword to use for you’re current hero, you’re always paying it forward to the next generation. Bunch of ingrates.
Runes – Exclusively hidden in green fairy chests, these are the stat/ability altering buffs the Enchantress applies to your equipment. They can be tricky to get your hands on. Fairy chests won’t open just because you saunter up to them; every fairy chest has a specific challenge to complete to get at the goods inside. Sometimes it’s something simple like “defeat all enemies” (which lets be honest, as a bloodthirsty monster you were gonna do that anyways). Often it’s far more complex, like getting through a series of traps without taking damage, or acquiring the chest without looking at it. Some require certain abilities or magic you might not have on you, to which the game takes a firm “tough luck” stance.
You’ll probably flub most of the challenges the first time you run into them, you either won’t have the right ability or figure out the trick in time. Some of them are pure skill/dexterity tests you might not be able to pull off without practice. No biggie. The game is random but you’ll start to see repeats soon enough, just keep at it and eventually the stars will align.
Once you have all the runes, the fairy chests start kicking out stat boosts. Not really important, but I like that they stay desirable even late into NG+.
Shrines – Very rarely you’ll come across a creepy shrine. Praying to it offers a random and unexplained modifier to your game. It could be good (and usually is) or it could be bad. Or it could be functionally meaningless! It’s a crap shoot, but hey, I say go for it. You’ll never know what you could get unless you try! (Spoken like a true degenerate gambler.)
Jukeboxes – These play music.
Wolf Fountains – I don’t know the actual name for these, but I love those crazy wolf head reliefs. These mystical hydration stations refill a good chunk of your HP/MP and are a real lifesaver. They are a one-time resource and stick around until you use them, so be smart and only drink them dry when you need to.
Journals – These diary entries form the narrative backbone of Rogue Legacy. They’re flippant, sarcastic, and sad. Pitch perfect.
Booyan the jerkass clown – Another rare event, I didn’t come across Booyan and his bizarre circus sideshow until really late in the game and now I see him fairly frequently, so he might be level locked (or I just survive and explore more now). Anyway, Booyan is a jerkass clown who will challenge you with a couple of minigames. One has you trying to peg 8 increasingly fast moving targets with daggers from across the screen, the other wants you to take out a bunch of targets with 5 axe throws.
It’s time for honesty, I have never beaten either challenge. Booyan promises a fabulous prize if you pull it off and it’s always bugged me that I don’t know what it is. But seeing as how I’ve collected every weapon and rune without his jerkass help now, I can’t imagine it’s anything great. Next time I see him I’m gonna tell him where he can stick his flippin’ throwing axes.
Between every generation you get a chance to upgrade the family homestead and your generational stats. These boosts are permanent and apply to every character class (although some might benefit from some stats more than others). As you upgrade the basic stats and collect additional character classes, more advanced and esoteric options will open up.
I’m not going to insult your intelligence and describe every single one of these. You can probably figure out what a health upgrade is and why it might be useful. I will go over some of the more interesting options I either found really handy, didn’t discover until way too late, or completely wasted my hard earned gold on. Benefit from my suffering!
Armour Up – I waited way too long to start pumping points into this skill. The moment I did I started living longer. A nice side bonus to this upgrade is that by the time you unlock it, you’ll probably have already raised your regular health stat to the point where it’s getting expensive. Armour provides the same basic function (keeping you alive longer) with less cost!
Potion Up – This upgrade will increase the amount of HP/MP you regain from items. It’s kind of expensive, but worth every penny. Regularly a piece of chicken will heal you up for 10% of your health, but with fully maxed out Potion Up, you get a beefy 15%. You’ll probably want other stats first, but don’t forget it.
Invulnerability Time up – Criminally good. Having .5 more seconds of invulnerability after being hit doesn’t sound like much, but it’s great. Get tackled by a monster? Take some freebie swings at it as it clips into you. Screw up and fall in a spike pit? Just walk to the other side. Criminal.
Crit chance/Crit damage – Shockingly great. I almost always gravitate towards crit-based characters and gimmicks whenever a game offers the chance. Often it doesn’t pan out and I get stuck with a weak character who’s luck never seems to come through when it needs to. This isnot the case with Rogue Legacy.
Investing heavily in the crit stats and combining it with crit boosting equipment can yield tremendous results. You’ll be landing crits with well over half your swings (even more with the Knave) and hit for nearly four times the damage of an average swipe. It’s ridiculously great and would border on game breaking if the enemies weren’t so tough. I highly recommend buffing up your crit, even if you don’t like to play as Knaves much, it’s a stat that can help every class (except for Ninjas, but fuck them.)
Defy Death – This extremely expensive upgrade will grant you a slim (1-15%) chance of coming back after death with a smidgen of health. What are you, some kind of pussy? Dying alone and in pain was good enough for your grandpappy, it should be good enough for you. Invest your gold in a real stat.
Haggle – Haggle will let you keep some of your change when you enter the castle. Even fully maxed out it’s not much. This upgrade sucks for two reasons. 1) You should be emptying out your pockets as much as possible every time, leaving only a pittance of a pittance to Charon anyway. 2) I’m no mathmagician, but considering how many thousand gold it costs to max this skill, and how little you get to save with it, you’d have to die hundreds of times to even make back the gold you invested in it, let alone turn a profit. You don’t plan on dying hundreds of times like a punk do you?
Randomize Children – I have mixed feelings about this upgrade. Every generation it will give you a chance to re-roll another set of three random children. So if you only have a pair of nearsighted Litches and a Shinobi with heart disease to choose from, you can take another try. It certainly makes it easier to cherry pick great classes/traits, but I can’t help but feel the game loses a bit of it’s heart in the process. “Anybody can be a hero,” not just the cultivated genetic best. I say wait till NG+ until you bother with this upgrade.
Runes are awesome. You can slot one rune into each piece of equipment for five in total. They are the heart and guts of your character, they’re why you can go deeper and deeper into the castle.
Mobility Runes – There are Vault runes for double (or triple, or quad, ect) jumping, Sprint runes for dashing, Sky runes that let you hover like Princess Peach, and Haste runes for moving quicker. IMO, a double jump is necessary to do well in this game, hell, two are better. You get so much utility and so many second chances for having a double jump it’s unthinkable to pass it up.
The other mobility runes have their place. Dashing is handy and essential for some fairy chests. Hovering and Haste have obvious benefits. But I often found myself passing them over for other options.
Regeneration Runes – Vampire runes suck back 2 HP per kill, Siphon runes do the same for magic, and Balance runes take in a mix of 1 HP and 1 MP per kill. You can stack multiple runes to multiply the effect or mix them up to regenerate both resources.
These are essential. I have no idea who would consider playing without at least a few vampire runes or pieces of equipment. Often times I would crash the castle with a single double-jump rune while running four deep on the vamps. Recovering 8 HP (more with gear) per kill adds up quickly. If you are able to clear out rooms without taking damage you can regain a hefty amount of life.
As the game goes on and the health bar gets bigger and the enemies hit for bigger numbers, the Vampire stuff starts to pale a little. It’s still a no-brainer, but you might get a little more mileage out of a Siphon rune that lets you use magic more freely. Even when it is more difficult to regain a health bar with vampirism, it’s still a potent form of damage mitigation. Every bit of health you gain back is gravy.
Gameplay Runes – Grace and Curse runes can nudge the difficulty lower or higher. Risk is consummate with reward – you’ll get less gold with Grace runes and more with Curse. Grace runes can be handy when playing as a weak character like the Miner. In NG+ the difficulty spikes so harshly I ended up using a Grace fairly often. In NG++ I had one one nearly full time. Maybe that makes me a wimp, but HOLY SHIT NG++ IS HARD.
Bounty runes increase the payout for every bit of gold you grab. Great if you’re skilled enough not to need anything else. Also nice when stacked on the Miner.
The Retaliation rune doesn’t really fit in anywhere but bears mentioning. It returns 50% of the damage an enemy does back on itself. Handy in general, great in some specific situations. If you know you are specifically going to be fighting a boss with a character (say the end boss) ditch your vampire runes and stack on some of these. They also have the unique property of hurting inanimate traps! Spike balls, wall cannons, and even tile spikes will self-destruct after hitting you if you have a Retaliation buff. Almost worth packing one for that alone.
There are five types of equipment in Rogue Legacy. Swords, helms, breastplates, bracers, and (the ever fashionable) capes. New equipment is the best way to make your character stronger. A breastplate that can grant you 50 more health may only cost a few thousand gold, while trying to raise that much by pumping the health stat could easily cost tens of thousands.
Most new gear you find is a straight up buff. Explore around, find a new sword that hits harder, find a helm that offers more protection or gives you more MP. There are some curve-balls though. Some equipment might have great value in one stat, but be terrible at another. You have to make strategic compromises informed by the way you play and the class you pick.
The third line in every equipment slot offers the most drastic of these trade-offs. Vampiric equipment will have you regen 2 HP a kill, but at a -30 max HP penalty. This might be a crippling trade off for an early Mage, or a barely noticeable hiccup for a mid-level Barbarian. A sword that hits like wet spaghetti but increases the gold yield by 30% might be a wonderful boon for a Mage. A cape that offers no defence but two double jumps is handy if you have a rune you really want to trade out Vault for.
Pick your equipment carefully and tailor it to each hero. Or just pick the outfit that looks the coolest, whatever. I’m not your dad, I ain’t gonna tell you how to dress.
There are a lot of traps in Rogue Legacy, and they’re arguably more annoying than most of the enemies. Keep an eye out for these hazards.
Spike tiles – I’m not exactly sure who thought anyone would be tricked by an ominous metal grate still slick with blood from the last fool who stepped on it – it isn’t the most subtle trap. But these pressure pads can still get you if you’re not paying attention. Stepping on these pads causes a bunch of wicked spikes to jut up through the grating and put a hole on your boot. You get a split second before the trap springs, so you can run across a floor of them at full sprint and be fine – provided no hideous monsters or other traps cause you to hesitate for even a fraction of a second. Have fun!
You don’t actually have to be standing ON them to set them off, just sufficiently close. So be careful when jumping up through a floor laced with them.
Regular Spikes – They’re spikes, don’t fall on them. Also, don’t jump into them. Or bump your head into them. Just try and leave them alone in general okay? (ACTIONABLE ADVICE)
Alright, a real tip – spikes hurt A LOT. They are one of the more damaging things you can run into. If your fighting over a huge bed of them and aren’t doing so well, it might be better to intentionally get hit with a weaker projectile and use the invulnerability flicker to take out an enemy or make some distance over the pit than to fall on the spikes raw.
Wall Cannons – Insanely annoying. These fire-spitting wall cannons can be mounted in any cardinal direction (and sometimes on diagonals, but that’s rare) on floors, ceilings, and walls. Often all at the same time. Overlapping each other. Yay?
Cannons generally have a specific firing rate that changes from trap to trap. Avoiding the blast is a matter of working out the timing and moving when the right moment strikes. Even tough rooms can be solved if you keep your head.
If you’re lazy or could never get the hang of playing drums on Rock Band, this might not be good news. Fortunately, there are other ways around these obstacles. The Knight can block them, the Barbarian can shout the projectiles away, and the Knave can slip by in mist form.
Other classes are SOL and must dodge them properly. These also happen to be the classes with the least health and margin for error. Welcome to rougelikes!
Floating Spike Ball – Giant balls of spikes that listlessly drift through the air, bouncing off walls, waiting to crater your head. You encounter these all the time, sometimes entire rooms of them. There is an enemy type that likes to swing them around like a mace, and when you kill it, the spike ball goes flying off and becomes a lingering trap. Again, don’t get hit by them.
Remember that Retaliation runes and equipment work on these annoying prats and will cause them to self-destruct on contact with your tender body. You don’t want to get hit at all of course, but at least you’ll have one less thing to worry about afterwards.
Spring Boards – Not necessarily a trap in and of themselves, spring boards are little green orbs that fold out into small temporary wood platforms when hit with a downthrust. They retract in a few seconds and will dump you off if you’re still standing on one. They’re usually found over spike pits or obstacle-esq enemies requiring you to split your attention between what you’re avoiding and where you’re trying to land.
The downthrust in Rogue Legacy does not live up to the fine pedigree established by Link, Scrooge McDuck, and the valiant Shovelknight. It is a timing specific move that takes a moment to activate, ends abruptly, and has a wonky hitbox. You can’t just hold it down and pogo on enemies and platforms all day. As a soft old man with doddering reflexes and poor coordination, I had some trouble getting it to work reliably. Try going into options and setting it to activate every time you simply press down in the air, makes it a little easier.
Poltergiest Paintings and Chests (“Doomtraits”, “Mimics”, etc.) – Both an enemy type and what I’d consider a trap, these foes disguise themselves as background items and treasure waiting for you to smack into em. They’re fairly easy to spot, often overlapping an actual painting or chest, and they occasionally move a bit (the mimic chests are particularly easy to spot if you’re paying attention to the mini-map, they don’t show up as treasure). Even so, I still bang into one of these assholes from time to time, usually while dodging something else. I don’t think I hate any enemy in the game more than I hate the fully levelled up portraits.
Projectile Dispensers (“Plinkies”, “Guard Boxes”, “Pupils”, etc.) – There are three separate entire classes of enemy who do nothing but sit in one spot and hurl projectiles at you. They’re technically monsters I guess, but the main threat of them is limiting your movement and forcing you into other obstacles, so I consider them a kind of trap.
The star shaped “Plinkies” shoot in X or cross shaped patterns depending on type and level. The Guard Box cannons fire rockets horizontally the entire length of a room (later level ones will fire volleys or even tracking shots). And the most annoying of all, the floating eye brand of enemy will fire projectiles that can glide through walls. The eye guys are the fucking worst. At high levels the “Visionary” type will fire out entire streams of projectiles in a three pronged fan pattern – assholes.
All of these jackass traps work on the same principal – easy to deal with on their own, incredibly annoying when mixed with other enemies or traps. Learning to prioritize dangers and keep multiple threats in mind is key to survival. Don’t get so caught up bashing a skeleton that you forget the grate spikes underneath you.
When dealing with the projectile spewing types, see if you can’t take them out from a distance or from behind a wall as much as possible. It might seem lame, but the castle will brook no unnecessary heroics.
Odds & Ends
Whew, this list is getting a little excessive! But I still have a few tidbits of advice that don’t fit in anywhere else.
Every drop of blood counts – Make the most of every run. It can be tempting to run it back against a boss that just killed you and rematch it as fast as possible without exploring. And it’s easy to get defeatist after a particularly hard room where you lose half your health and just give up. But you should try to wring every piece of gold and treasure out of a run as you can. Not only will you be able to make more significant improvements to your next character that actually feel meaningful (dieing ignominiously only to level up your kid’s HP by 5 measly points does not feel like a life well spent), but it will make you better at the game and better with each character type.
After cruising about with a kickass Shinobi for a long run, you might not give much of a shit about the wimpy Mage you got stuck with on the next. But if you make the effort to really see how far you can go with the Mage (rather than jumping him into the nearest spike pit and hoping he sired a brilliant ninja in the making before going in the castle) you might be surprised at what he can do, you might learn a few new things. In any case, learning to survive and profit with a weak character will just make your runs with a mighty one that much better.
Strategic resource management, save your chicken – The teleport room before every area and boss door has a pair of statues that kick out one chicken and one potion. These are the ONLY dependable items in the game so don’t waste them! Every time you come across one of these room think before you smash. Even if you’re a little wounded or low on magic, it makes more sense to explore and see if you can find some random power ups or vampire it out of the enemies and only come back for the dependable items when you absolutely need to.
In every other room you must smash. Smash everything. Smash the chairs, smash the tables, smash the chandeliers. The tree stumps, the vines, the crates, the crypts, and the torture racks. Reduce everything you can to matchsticks and powder, then scoop up the rewards. Every piece of gold counts, every MP potion is handy, every health restoring chicken leg vital. If you aren’t doing everything you can to thrive, you can only blame yourself when you fail.
Don’t be bad maths (like me) – I can’t count the number of times I meekly handed over a small fortune to Charon the gatekeeper because I messed up some basic math and was coppers short on buying one last stat. Try to put your money to it’s best use and actually break out some basic arithmetic before investing your gold. Leave as little as possible for Charron, he smells bad and watches UFC religiously.
Feed on the monsters – I’m a big fan of the vampire runes and equipment. I’m also a big fan of exploring everywhere on every run. These qualities dovetail nicely.
When you’re making your first tentative steps into the Tower or the Depths, it can be an intimidating affair (read: shit-show). Those areas are bracingly more difficult that the humdrum Castle area or familiar Woods. The enemies are harder, the traps more devious, mini-bosses and unfairly harsh rooms more common.
It’s a good strategy when you’re starting to take these areas on to dip into them early on a run, clear out as many monsters and rooms as you can, and retreat when your health gets low or your nerves get frazzled. Head back to the welcoming easy areas and beat up on the weaker enemies for HP. Sure, you may only regenerate a handful of points per kill, but if you are just blazing through easier areas one-shotting everything, you should be able to completely recover one or even two health bars worth of points.
In a weird way, enemies are a resource if you know how to milk them.
Have fun storming the castle!
Rogue Legacy is crazy fun. I wrote this guide with the genuine intent of helping other players out and maybe sharing a few tips that might not have occurred to others.
But I had an ulterior motive. I just really wanted to talk about Rogue Legacy.
I want to tell everyone to go and buy it, and I’m tempted to use some tired old conditional pitch like “if you like rougelikes…” or “if you love the faux retro trappings of games like Cave Story and Fez…” but really, those qualifications are unimportant.
The real pitch should be “if you like good games, you should play Rogue Legacy.”
It is the most fun I’ve had with a game so far in 2013. Even when I was pulling my hair out.