Check out the indie/downloadable game section of any console platform, and you won’t be able to move for roguelike platformers.
By that I mean challenging 2D platformers with randomised level design and a punishing permadeath system.
You can probably blame Spelunky for this outbreak, with games such as Rogue Legacy, Gonner, and Flinthook following in its imperious wake.
On mobile the pickings are altogether slimmer, with Downwell a notable (and altogether more streamlined) exception. Become a Legend is the latest attempt to replicate this winning formula, but it’s only a partial success.
I’ve already mentioned Rogue Legacy, and anyone who’s played that game on Vita or console will recognise Become a Legend as a clear tribute.
Like Cellar Door Games’s effort, Become a Legend casts you as a knight – or rather successive knights – and charges you with fighting as far as possible through a treacherous castle.
Each run through of that castle is different, with room layouts shifting between deaths. You get a mini-map feature, but the details of that map will alter each time.
Your aim is to get to the level exit, but a side-aim is to hoover up as many coins as possible by discovering chests, smashing furniture, and fighting baddies.
These coins can then be spend levelling up your knight. Crucially, these improvements will carry over when you inevitably die.
Hard earned progress
It’s a good idea making a perpetual and easily accessible improvement system part of Become a Legend‘s formula. That’s often not the case in games of this kind.
It means that you feel like you’ve made progress even if you have a very short run – and you’ll have plenty of those.
There are insta-kill knights out there in the castle, but you’ll more often die from accumulated damage. The levels are strewn with cannon fire, spikes, and other traps alongside awkwardly placed enemies.
Unfortunately, the controls can be another deadly trap. The supplied virtual buttons aren’t particularly well positioned, and I frequently found myself dropping through platforms when I meant to jump and vice-versa.
The attack mechanics are also clumsy and slow to begin with, and hitting a jumping sword swipe – an almost essential technique – is trickier than it needs to be. You can fix that by pumping money into upping your attack speed, but it’s still an issue.
Beyond some slightly fiddly controls, Become a Legend lacks a certain amount of polish. Its cute art style is perfectly fine, but there are moments where there’s an odd absence of sound, and the English text translation isn’t of the highest quality.
Beyond that, it’s quite a repetitive game to play despite the whole random level element.
It’s tough to put your finger on why such randomised systems work or don’t, but the best ones (such as Spelunky) make you feel like the levels have been custom-made by a living breathing person – whether kind or malevolent. There’s just something in the layouts here that lack that spark.
Still, as a full roguelike action-platformer, mobile users can’t afford to be quite so picky as their console brothers. Become a Legend is a perfectly entertaining option until we get our own Spelunky or Rogue Legacy.