Rogue Legacy tests your limits, but we’ve got some tips to help you get started

Cellar Door Games’ Rogue Legacy is a wonderfully addictive mash-up of roguelike randomness, lo-fi action, and deep, stat-driven RPG stat systems that make for a tantalizing, ever-dangling set of carrots. It is a fun game, but it is not at all forgiving. Death comes frequently and very often without any warning at all. One minute you’re leaping around a sprawling castle, the next a painting springs off the wall and starts spitting out puffy, white orbs of terrible in your direction.

The going never really gets easier as you level up and push deeper into the castle, but there are things you can do in the early game to better equip yourself for the dangers ahead. We’ve got some tips to share that should ease the going during those early hours. Follow this advice and you’ll have a strong grasp of how the game works by the time you reach latter sections, when more focused “runs” replace the early game’s general exploration.

Want to know more about Rogue Legacy? Check out our review.

Before you begin

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When you first fire up Rogue Legacy, the first thing you should to before anything else is jump into the options menu and turn the “Quick Drop” feature on. Doing this allows you to drop through platforms and perform your downward attack simply by pressing down on the D-pad/analog stick. With Quick Drop off, you’d have to press down along with a face button to perform those moves.

It’s a subtle change, but it’s one that dramatically eases the challenge of certain platforming puzzles.

Nurturing the upgrade tree

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The early section of Rogue Legacy is all about the grind. You head into the castle, grab as much gold as you can, and spend it in the skill tree or on your kit. Classes unlock slowly, since they rapidly get to be more expensive as you dig deeper into the upgrade tree. That’s not apparent at first, however.

The upgrade tree grows as you spend money on new skill upgrades that you didn’t have before. It’s a good idea to boost stats like health, attack, and defense in the early going, but it’s equally important to spread your gold around on the skill tree. Try to buy at least one point for every skill whenever you can, as you’ll often unlock additional skills and classes to spend gold on. The more your hero’s Manor grows, the more skills and classes you can buy.

When you’ve got gold, make sure to spend as much as you can before you head back into the castle, as you’ve got to pay anything you’ve got banked to Charon before you head in.

Class war

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Every time you die, you return as the descendant of the previous hero. There are always three options here, filled out by randomly selected classes and genetic traits (which we cover below). Early on in the game you’ll want to go for classes with naturally higher HP totals and combat stats. The Knight is a good all-rounded, and the Barbarian is a damage sponge. These are both great choices, as the early section of Rogue Legacy is all about lasting long enough on a given runthrough the grab some gold. The more HP you start with, the longer you stand to last.

There’s really no “best” class. You’ll eventually want to have them all. Each one can be upgraded — at considerable cost — to buff starting stats and add new abilities. Try them all out. Later on in the game, when you’re leveled to the point that you’re going on needs-based “runs,” you’ll find that the Miner (upgrades to Spelunker) is good for gold farming, the Knave (upgrades to Assassin) is good for bosses, especially if you improve your critical hit chance, and more. Every class plays a little differently, so you’ll want to just keep experimenting to get a feel for each one.

Note that there’s one semi-secret class that doesn’t appear on the main upgrade tree screen. You’ve got to open up enough of the tree to get the Invuln, Time Up skill opened up (top right corner of the screen). Put a point into that and you’ll see a flagpole sprout at the top of the castle. Press up from there to move the display up one screen, where you find the very expensive Dragon class. It has no sword and it can’t jump, but it can fly indefinitely and it shoots fireballs. This uses up your mana, but the Dragon’s mana meter recharges very quickly.

That’s a concern for later on the game, but it’s something to keep in mind. There’s also an even more secret class, but you won’t get that one until you reach New Game+ mode.

Teach your children

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Each new generation of heroes has a chance of having anyone between zero and two genetic traits. Some, such as Balding, merely lend additional color to the game. There are many of these traits, and it’s not always obvious what they do. We’re going to highlight a few here that you should look out for whenever you’re picking your next hero.

  • ADHD: This one is straightforward. Your character moves 30-percent faster than he or she normally would. Once you’ve got the Shinobi/Hokage class unlocked, definitely watch for any that come with ADHD as a trait. That class already gets a nominal speed boost over the other classes, and it really zips around with the extra bump that this trait offers.
  • Clumsy: The Clumsy trait is one to watch for, but not because you necessarily want it. The fact that it destroys every breakable object your hero comes into contact with isn’t so bad, but being Clumsy also prevents you from being able to stand on bookcases. These are often placed near pressure-sensitive traps as a safe haven, but you can’t take advantage of them when you’ve got this trait.
  • Dementia: Another one you don’t necessarily want, though it’s not as disruptive as Clumsy. Heroes with Dementia occasionally hallucinate, seeing enemies that aren’t actually there. If you’re smacking an enemy that isn’t taking any damage, and it’s attacking but it’s not hurting you, it’s a fake. Don’t fret, just ignore it.
  • Dwarfism: This trait spawns a half-size hero, which can be both a good and a bad thing. Your sword’s reach is significantly reduced when you’ve got Dwarfism, making it tougher to maintain a healthy distance from your enemies. On the other hand, heroes with Dwarfism can access hidden passages (look for greyed out strips of wall) that make it easier to skirt around tough enemies and access otherwise inaccessible treasure chests.
  • EHS: This one’s great for navigating spike rooms with collapsible platforms. Normally, you’ve got to down attack those platforms to open them up temporarily. With EHS, they’re just open. All the time.
  • Eid. Mem.: Short for Eidetic Memory, this trait reveals the location of all chests, events, and warp locations on the map screen.
  • Endomorph: This beefier version of the standard hero doesn’t suffer knockback from enemy attacks.
  • Flexible: This trait isn’t particularly useful, but it’s also not clear in the description how it works. Being Flexible allows you to turn mid-sword swing, effectively redirecting your attack in the opposite direction.
  • Hypergonadism: This trait provides a significant boost to the knockback you inflict with each attack.
  • P.A.D.: Short for Peripheral Arterial Disease. Possibly one of the most useful traits to have in the entire game. P.A.D. allows you to walk on spike traps without triggering them. It doesn’t protect you from standard spikes in the ground, however.
  • Savant: Casts a random bonus spell whenever you cast a spell.

Gear up

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There are two types of gear in Rogue Legacy: standard equipment (sword, helmet, chestplate, gauntlets/boots, cloak) and runes. The former comes from the Blacksmith and the latter, from the Enchantress. As with skill upgrades, all of this gear costs you gold. The difference is, you’ve got to find the plans for each item in chests scattered throughout the castle. Higher-level gear can only be found in the later sections of the castle, but you can get a full set of decent equipment early on, just by sticking to the starting area.

The Blacksmith’s gear is self-explanatory, with a stat sheet showing where you stand to gain or lose when you equip a particular weapon/armor item. Runes work a little differently. Once you’ve found plans and purchased them, you can apply one to each of the five gear slots. Runes are essentially stackable perks that open up abilities like mid-air jumps, gold collection boosts, flight, health siphoning, haste, and more. There’s one of each type of Rune for all five gear classes, and Runes unlock already tied to a specific piece of gear.

What’s neat is that they stack. Equip one jump Rune and you’ll get a double-jump, but equip two and you open up the ability to triple-jump. It’s best to mix-and-match different setups according to your needs, but it’s always good to have at least one jump Rune equipped (preferably two).

Finding your way

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Early exploration in Rogue Legacy is all about grinding for loot until you’ve buffed yourself enough to start taking on bosses and venturing into harder areas. The easiest way to do this early on is to break everything and watch for chests. Taking out enemies yields gold as well, and you’ll likely do plenty of that in order to survive, but most of your best gold drops early on will come from chests. Look out for rooms with a boss door (marked by a little horned head icon on your map), as you’ll always find two treasure chests on the floor.

Also keep an eye out for greyed out portions of the walls and floors. These can be walked or dropped through, giving way to secret areas. Sometimes you’ll walk into a room and see a chest in a seemingly inaccessible location. You’ll usually find one of those greyed out hidden accessways in these rooms. Other times you’ll come across one of those secret floors but see no obvious chest. That doesn’t mean there isn’t one though! Go through the floor (or ceiling) and press up on the D-pad/analog stick as you move left and right in what is likely a small, enclosed space. Chances are, you’ll pop an invisible chest open.

Generally speaking, just explore! One of the wonderful things about Rogue Legacy is the way the castle’s randomized keep throwing surprises at you. It might be a clown offering you a reward for completing a carnival-style game of skill, or a man challenging you to wager some portion of your gold on choosing the right chest (out of three), for a chance at tripling your wager. Or you might find yourself facing tough minibosses which, once defeated, leave behind a chest. Poke around. Try to avoid the higher-level areas in the early going, but if you come to one and see an easy chest to grab, go for it. The worst that happens is you die. Which isn’t so terrible in Rogue Legacy.

You’ve got to pray

Rogue Legacy Spiritual ShrineThere’s one random occurrence in the castle that’s worth calling special attention to. Occasionally, you’ll come across a room that contained a statue of a robed figure. Press up while you’re standing in front of it and you’ll be given the option to “pray for assistance.” Doing so grants you one of a number of different boosts, and all of them are beneficial save one. The “Curse of the Hedgehog” causes a shower of your own gold to spill out every time an enemy strikes you, a nod to Sonic the Hedgehog.

Anything else you get from the prayer statue will only help, so it’s a worthwhile gamble. We won’t list everything here; check out the excellent Rogue Legacy Wiki for a full rundown.

We will call out one item in particular though: Charon’s Obol. It’s a rare one, but it’s great for gold farmers. Get one of these and you’ll be able to die, respawn, and re-enter the dungeon with all of the gold from your previous run intact. Just make sure not to spend any when you get Charon’s Obol, to maximize your returns later. By the time you’ve leveled up enough to reveal the Dragon class on the ugprade tree, a good run paired with one Charon’s Obol should give you enough on the follow-up run to grab that final class.

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