REVIEW / Indiebox (Rogue Legacy)

 

You enter the castle, armored and armed, on a quest to slay monsters and discover treasure beyond the realms of mortal ken, only to be immediately killed by a floating eyeball. Dying again and again and yes, again, is par for the course in Rogue Legacy, the game featured in this December’s IndieBox. Developer Cellar Door’s roguelike checks all the genre boxes. Procedurally generated environments? Check. Brutal difficulty? Check. Permanent death? Great big check. But what sets it apart from other roguelikes, besides its wicked sense of humor, is that when your current hero meets his untimely end, his heir can spend all of poor dead dad’s gold on unlocks and upgrades, allowing for a strange sort of character progression as with each run you are able to live longer and delve deeper into the mystery of your cursed lineage. It’s a clever twist on the genre, now given equally clever game-related goodies thanks to the good folks at IndieBox.

 

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IndieBox is a monthly subscription service that gives indie games the big budget treatment, re-packaging them in a collector’s edition box and mailing them to your doorstep. Each IndieBox includes a retro-style game box, USB game cartridge, color instruction manual, original soundtrack and other collector’s items related to that month’s featured game, which are always Windows, Mac and Linux compatible. The service starts at $19.99 + shipping ($4 for United States, $9 for Canada and $14 for international) for a recurring 1-month subscription, which you can cancel at anytime. Of course, if you lock into a longer commitment, like a 3-month ($17.99/mo + shipping) or 6-month ($15.99/mo + shipping) subscription, you save some scratch. You can also purchase copies of previous IndieBoxes for $24.99 + shipping while supplies last.


Box

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This is another amazing design from the IndieBox team. It’s not easy to march into Rogue Legacy‘s Castle Hamson, knowing it’s where every single member of your family has met a gruesome, painful and – in some cases – humiliating death. The art on this cover really captures that foreboding feeling of a lone hero facing off against a castle full of unspeakable horrors. Thankfully, it’s balanced out by the happy feeling you get knowing that the box itself is so well constructed, made from a sturdy, glossy card stock and chock full of fun, winking details like the text beneath the barcode reading

 

Rogue Legacy Battle Card Game

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My favorite extra in this month’s box is this 2-player card game, designed by Kenny and Teddy Lee of Cellar Door Games and exclusive to IndieBox. Each player picks a character card, that they place face up. Then they get three action cards, one each for attack, magic and defense. Each player chooses an action card and reveals it simultaneously. Attack beats magic. Magic beats defense. Defense beats attack. It’s like Rock Paper Scissors, but with more Olde English insults. Thou may be good at this card game, but thy vile canker-blossom’d countenance curdles milk and sours beer!

 

Sword Keychain

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Rogue Legacy’s iconic sword in a keychain form is absolutely adorable, capturing the pixelated charm of the game’s 16-bit style graphics. I thought the construction might be a bit on the cheap side, but it seems to be made from a high-quality rubber material that doesn’t lose its shape when carelessly in tossed into pockets, bags or the Mary Poppins-esque black hole that is my purse.

 

Picture Frame and Phrase Magnet Set

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In Rogue Legacy, death doesn’t take you to a “game over” screen, but to a hallway adorned with portraits of your ancestors where you get to choose from three ass-kicking siblings to continue the fight. Will it be Lady Sonia the Color Blind Barbarian, Sir Taco the Dyslexic Knave or Sir Hornsby the Paladin, who suffers from poor circulation in his extremities due to Peripheral Arterial Disease? In the game, whether helpful or hurtful, your traits are randomly generated. But in this magnet set, you can turn any family photo into the hero/heroine of your demented dreams. I only have pictures of friend’s babies on my fridge, so it’s going to be a tough intro to the cruelty of life for Sir Jonah, the 18-month-old Spellsword with dextrocardia and an eidetic memory.

 

Original Soundtrack

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I laughed so hard at this cover, with it’s pseudo-serious image of a pixelated baby grand. But the content is no laughing matter; the original soundtrack to Rogue Legacy – the combined musical efforts of A Shell In The Pit (Vancouver-based composer and game sound designer Gordon McGladdery) and Tettix (the Atlanta musician formerly known as Cicada) –  shows a surprising amount of emotional range across its 19 tracks. If you’re a fan of chiptune musicians like Doctor Octoroc. Anamanaguchi or I Fight Dragons, then you’ll still enjoy jamming out to these neo-nostalgic tunes when your computer is powered down.

 

Instruction Manual

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If you dare delve beyond the page warning “spoilers ahead,” you will be treated to a treasure trove of useful information in this old school-style instruction manual, including hero traits, classes, spells, items and – most useful of all when it come to identifying that cedar chest that sprouted teeth and killed you – a complete bestiary. There are even boss bios that give insight into what they were like before they became creatures whose terrible visages make women scream and babes weep. Before Alexander was an evil skull ringed by unholy purple flame, did you know his early retirement was spoilt when his servants started disrespecting him? Game bosses are people, too! Or at least they were before their thirst for immortality transformed them into a floating eyeball.

 

USB Drive

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And last but not least, you get the game on a credit card-sized USB cartridge containing a DRM-free copy of Rogue Legacy on Windows, Mac and Linux. I like that artwork from the game is printed on both sides. I like that the cartridge fits in my pants pocket. But I love that it survived a harrowing journey through both washer AND dryer when I left it in said pants pocket come laundry day. If only my heroes and heroines in Rogue Legacy were as resilient!


This IndieBox marks the first since they switched from a “mystery box” setup, now announcing the game of the month in advance. But other than that small customer-appeasing concession, it’s the same awesome service. This Rogue Legacy box is one of the most immersive released to date, with all the items inside relating to the game in clever, creative ways. And everything, from the sword keychain to the character creation magnets to the card game, is of the highest quality. IndieBox has packed this box with enough actual treasures that you almost don’t mind getting killed in the game before you can collect any virtual treasure. Almost.

Sign-up for IndieBox here.

 

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