I could gush about many of Rogue Legacy's fine qualities. I could praise the super satisfying gameplay loop that keeps you glued to the controller hours longer than you intended. I could go on and on about the art style, the lovely faux-retro sprites like an SNES game that never was (or could have been). I could talk about how Goddamn frustrating (satisfying) it gets in NG++. But I want to focus on one of the game's more charming and subtle elements.
Rogue Legacy is one of the most inclusive and life affirming games I've ever played.
You probably know the gist of the game already. Rogue Legacy is a roguelike that features a family line of heroes attempting to storm an ever changing castle. When your little Knight of Knave falls (and it will happen, again and again) that's it for him or her. They're dead and gone and the next attempt will star their offspring, and then their offspring, and so on. Each child has a randomly selected class, spell, and most interestingly, traits, they are born with.
These traits can be any number of things. Some of them can be seen as advantages, such as a peculiarly overactive gland that makes your blows knock enemies further back than most. Some are detrimental, like the world-flipping vertigo. A whole whack of them are either neutral and have little effect on the game, or come with a mix of up and downs. A hero afflicted with Dwarfism is tiny and will have a hard time hitting enemies while keeping them at bay, but at the same time their small stature will allow them to take secret passageways larger heroes can't. A savant is the typically "talented but troubled" soul, casting a different random magic type each time instead of being stuck with just one. On one hand the lack of reliability can be a real hinderence, but on the other, sometimes a puzzle can be solved by trying a few times for the right spell.
The tagline for the game is "anybody can be a hero" and anyone can, even my ADHD-ridden Litch Queen with congenital Tunnel Vision. Sure she could never tell where she was going, but she got there FAST.
Maybe I'm just being a big softy, but the more I played, the more it got me in the feels. Sure, you can choose between three possible offspring and try to winnow out the bad traits like some kind of lame Cheetos eating Josef Mengele, but there are times when you have to make a choice between three flawed offspring, or have to put up with a bit of nearsightedness to get that sweet Barbarian dragon shout. And that's when the game get's really interesting. When you start with the cards stacked against you and play on anyway. When you be the best damn nearly-blind-hero-with-dyslexia you can be.
I've had a lot of great runs in Rogue Legacy, but the ones that stick out in my mind are the ones where I got deep in the dungeon with a less than perfect character. I've always been a sucker for the underdog, so maybe I try a little harder when I play as a endomorph Mage suffering from dementia than I do when playing as the hale and hearty Knight with no particular traits. Chubby would-be wizards have to stick together, you dig? Maybe I just want that unlikely hero to be "the one" to take down the castle. To be the first hero to ever make it back out of the dungeon with a smirk and a swagger.
The game is never preachy or in your face about it. It never tries to sell itself as some kind of super-inclusive, positive social message game. Rogue Legacy is just quietly, humbly, fucking decent and respectful. And that's pretty awesome.
- Dat manic intensity!
On a genuinely sad note, Giantbomb personality and noted Tuesday-enthusiast Ryan Davis has passed away.
You're on an internet gaming site so I'll skip the biography. Ryan wasn't just a core member of the Giantbomb staff, he was an amazing person. I've spent years watching him goof it up during protracted quicklooks, accidentally narc on ageing hippies at California Extreme, and host the ever living fuck out of the weekly Bombcast and I never once caught a wiff of anything insincere or phony about him. Ryan lived with his heart on his sleeve and a quick remark on the edge of his tongue.
His affable personality was infectious even over the internet. More than once over the years I've caught relating some bit of news to someone with a variation of "a friend of mine said..." only to realize a second later that I didn't actually hear that from someone I personally know, but from Ryan on the Bombcast. He was a regular fixture in my life and it leaves a pit in my stomach to know that he'll never ring in another Bombcast. I don't normally get sentimental about "celebrity" deaths, but I never thought of Ryan as a celebrity, I only thought of him as Ryan.
No matter what the experience was or which game or genre left that strong first impression, such experiences have the potential to open our eyes to the rich history of a series or genre. With any luck, we might find even more to love or something better. A great first experience with RPGs could lead to an undying love affair.
Sometimes a first kiss can be so impactful that the game gets placed on a pedestal and enshrined as a gold standard, which has its own pros and cons. I mean, it is nice to have a basis for comparison, but some folks take it too far. There are people who loved Half-Life, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or Final Fantasy VII so much that nothing after them really got a fair shake.
So first impressions matter -- they can shape and inform our gaming habits. I grew up on arcades, Nintendo, handhelds, and eventually into RPGs, so much of what I play will be influenced by how I acquired my tastes. I probably like Overwatch a ton because it has a passion for RPG roles, but contextualizes them closer to older shooters focused on objectives more than gear builds and grinding out perks for better killstreaks.
So for this month's Bloggers Wanted, we'd like you head over to the community blogs write about your first kiss, the games that positively influenced you or maybe biased you a little too much for a time. What turned you on to a series or genre? Was it love at first sight? Did it set any expectations in stone or possibly lead you to something better?
Whatever the case might be, remember to use the title "First kiss" and place "Bloggers Wanted" in the tags!
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