The original Rogue Legacy separated itself from the pack back in 2013 by centring its fiendishly addictive platforming gameplay around a clever roguelike mechanic that saw players continuously spring back to life in the shoes of an heir to their previous character, inheriting all of their ill-gotten gains in the process, which they then used to level up and grow incrementally stronger before a fresh run of the game's deadly gauntlet.
Further to this, you were rebirthed with a random trait that affected your character's ability either negatively - think colour blindness, no in-game map, two left hands that cast spells backwards etc - or in a positive manner that made you stronger, faster, able to see treasure on your map and so on. It made for a game with many moving parts that kept you on your toes and ensured that, no matter how often you snuffed it (and you best believe you snuffed it a lot), there was always some incentive to dive back in and soak up evermore punishment.
And punishment it was. If there's one criticism we'd have levied at the original game it's that it was absolutely brutal at times, a real tough nut to crack that laid down a serious and unflinching challenge, no matter how much punishment it put you through. We loved our time with it but, we're not ashamed to admit, we struggled with just how time-consuming and difficult it all was, and here's where Rogue Legacy 2 has got us most excited.
This beautiful sequel not only adds a ton of cool new traits, quirks, skills, artefacts and various other aspects that give the gameplay here even more variety, it doesn't just beef up the number of classes and add far more in the way of a story and well-written characters. No, even more importantly than all of this, Cellar Door Games' latest adds House Rules to the mix this time around, and it's a total game-changer.
House Rules allow you to dial back a bunch of gameplay elements; reduce enemy health, for example, soften up how much attack damage your adversaries do or - our favourite - turn off contact damage so that brushing up against a foe doesn't see you hurt in any way. You can even fly through platforming sections or turn off inherited traits so you don't find yourself colour-blind or playing the game upside down on your next run! It's a proper revelation for the series and it makes for a roguelike that feels fantastically malleable and approachable for players of all persuasions and skill levels. Heck, you can even turn up some of this stuff and make it even harder, if you're that way inclined. There's something for everyone here.
What you're left with is a sequel that players are more likely to stick with, which makes them more likely to appreciate all the other bells and whistles, story aspects, cool bosses and upgrades that have also been packed in here. Yes, Rogue Legacy 2 doesn't fully escape from the repetition and inherently grindy nature of its genre but, in giving players more agency and control over how difficult things are, it's evolved from a somewhat frustrating - and very often rage-inducing - experience into a far more chilled and, in turn, addictive roguelite that we're genuinely having quite a lot of trouble putting down. This one's up there with the very best we've played so far this year.