Gaming’s Tower of Babel

A few weeks ago I discovered Rogue Legacy, a brilliant indie game that instantly became a time sink for me over vacation. I even reviewed it at NerdCaliber. No, I haven’t finished it – yet – but it is a fascinating study in getting a game “right” in a way where people “get” it. Also I want to finish it but I started a new job . . . and Cubeworld.

Rogue Legacy is a fusion of several elements:

  • Roguelike randomness (deriving from the early random-dungeon game Rogue).
  • Sidescrolling castle exploration of the “Metroidvania” type (reminiscent of some Metroid games and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night)
  • Brutal difficulty common to both of those games and popularized in the hardcore games Demons’ Souls and Dark Souls.
  • An aesthetic reminiscent of other hardcore games, Ghosts and Goblins and Ghouls and Ghosts.

Basically you go into a randomly generated castle, explore, die, and then a randomly generated set of ancestors are available for you to take on the journey again to get far enough to win – usually after a lot of descendants.

Now if you’re a gamer like me, you’re already responding to rods like “Roguelike” and “Metroidvania” and “Hardcore.” My choice of words – and Rogue Legacy’s ancestry – speak to powerful and popular concepts in gaming. In short, Rogue Legacy’s designers speak the language of people like me, and a language with years of history. They know what some of us want and how to do it and communicate it.

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