The PlayStation versions of indie darling Rogue Legacy contains a little treat for crazy trophy hunters: the Thanatophobia trophy, which demands that you beat the game from a fresh save in 15 lives or less WITHOUT using the Architect to lock down the castle. It’s unique to the PS3/PS4/Vita versions of the game and, as of this writing, isn’t even in the PC version.
It’s also a damn nightmare.
But, as the cast of every Nightmare on Elm Street movie can tell you, even the worst fever dreams can be conquered with some creative thinking and courage, so I’m here to take your trembling hand and guide you through the most difficult part of the game – the bosses.
Before we get to the meat of the guide, here are a few general tips on how to play when you’re underleveled and outgunned:
- Beat the entire game first. Then go and beat all the remix bosses, including Brohannes. Not only will this train you for the hardest challenge the game can offer, it also will hone your boss killing skills, as most of the remix bosses will kill you in a handful of hits, so you’ll get really good at avoiding their attacks.
- Kill the first boss, Khidr, using the first Level 0 guy. It might seem impossible at first, but it’s a good test of your skills and will get your head into the game.
- Avoid any room that doesn’t have an ironbound treasure in it. Just move through the rooms as quickly as possible, flying past anything you can’t kill in one or two hits, which is pretty much everything in the Tower and the Dungeon. You might think that it’s a good idea to “farm” and power up your hero, but the best way through this is by getting so good at the bosses that you never get hit and can plink away at them.
- Find all the pathways to other areas in the first part of the Castle, but don’t eat the food there. Often you’ll lose a little life getting to whichever boss you’re going to kill, so being able to teleport from entrance to entrance filling up is an invaluable boost.
- The Dungeon is not your friend. Do not farm there. Do not hope you’ll find a badass tier 5 sword, because you won’t and you’ll lose five lives trying.
- If you’re having a hard time with precision control, try switching to the D-pad, as it tends to provide slightly better accuracy. Also, if you’ve got access to a PS3 or PS4, I highly recommend doing this on there, as hand cramps from the Vita can be killer, especially after a failed run.
- I spent my boss money in a few ways – I unlocked Shinobi and Spellsword, then equip weight as necessary to use any gear I happened upon. Spellsword is a contentious choice, as it requires a bit of luck to happen upon it when you need it, and even more luck to get a set of abilities that isn’t terrible combined with a half decent spell, but as much of this is based on luck already, I decided to roll the dice.
Without double jump or dash, this guy can be a bit of a terror, but if you’ve already cleared Neo Khidr you should already have a good feel for this fight and how to dodge his attacks.
I recommend you stand underneath him on one side, doing small jumps to hit him, as this gives you the most room to dodge the two set attack patterns. If you get a spinning blood bolt attack that’s moving away from you, it’s just a matter of running over, jumping onto the platform opposite you, and jumping up.
If you get one that’s moving into you, things get a little more complicated. Following the opening, jump up and over the boss, using a down strike to bounce to the other side. The timing of this can be a little hard to master, but since this is your first life, dying on him doesn’t require a monstrous amount of work to recoup from.
Like with all the bosses during a Thanatophobia run, the key is to stay calm and play conservatively. Only go for sure hits and don’t be afraid to focus on dodging if you feel like things are getting away from you.
Once you kill Khidr, it’s super important that you unlock a few things – The Shinobi class and the Vault and Sprint runes. You can spend the rest of your cash however you like, but those are of prime importance.
Additionally, should you encounter any Grace runes, those are like your best friends ever, so unlock those right away.
Unlike his remixed piece of shit cousin, vanilla Alexander isn’t all that hard, even at low levels. The key here is making sure you bring a Shinobi to the fight, as their pumped up damage should let you wipe out the tiny skulls he summons in a single hit, making it a lot easier to clear the field.
Again, like with Khidr, just take your time and avoid any stupid mistakes. By this point you’re already pretty deep into the run and you’ll want to save as many lives as possible for the later bosses.
Ponce de Leon
While you could try and bring a Barbarian King to this fight, any class will really do, especially if you’ve already cleared Ponce de Freon and have gotten used to laying out fires properly.
The most important thing is to make sure you don’t box yourself in with the fires the boss leaves behind. I prefer to work in concentric circles, moving in a big ring around the outside of the room, then a smaller one on the inside, which gives me enough time for the outer flames to dissipate.
Don’t get cocky with Ponce’s post-charge pauses, as it’s surprisingly easy to get caught by a spike ball or wall while trying to get in that one last hit. Additionally, be ready to dash when dropping down a platform, as you never know when there might be a rogue flame down there you’ve forgotten about.
And here’s where the real Rogue Legacy begins.
While you might get lucky with a Spellsword with Flame Barrier, odds are good you won’t, so I’m not going to spend much time talking about perfect builds or setups. I found that the Shinobi I had used for Alexander and Ponce was a good choice, as he was able to take out the slimes in 2-3 hits, which sped things up a bit.
While the obvious thinking would be that, much like the Asteroids-esque remix boss, you’d want to focus on one set of slimes at a time, I found that to be slightly overwhelming. The bigger slimes had a much easier time sneaking up on me, mostly due to their significantly larger hitboxes clipping me as they jumped around, making the whole fight a lot more difficult to control.
What eventually worked for me was to try and break all the slimes down as quickly as possible. It wasn’t too hard to deal with the green mages they summoned, as each went down in a handful of hits and they tended to stack. Once you clear all of them out, it’s a lot easier to bait the smaller slimes on the lower platforms by standing on the middle row. You might get a few surprises, but it’s much easier to handle them when they’re super small.
Overall though, this is probably the hardest part of the Thanatophobia run, mostly due to the random nature of the boss and the general difficulty of actually getting to him. The Dungeon has a lot of nasty projectile enemies and headless horses that love to sit right at the entrance to screens.
First thing…take a breath. You’re almost there. The final two bosses are both the easiest and potentially most difficult part of a Thanatophobia run, as they both use highly telegraphed attacks but you’ve got everything on the line, especially after Herodotus.
Again, it’s hard to recommend a specific class and ability makeup for this boss, but there are a few traits that make it a little easier. Hypergonadism is a lifesaver against Johannes as it helps to negate the only really “random” attack he does, which is his main swing. I had a lot of luck with a Spellsword with a ranged attack, as it made it a little easier to keep a safe distance from him. Barbarian King or Queen is always useful against the Fountain, but if you’re on point, you shouldn’t need the shout.
Much like Herodotus, Johannes is a battle of attrition. He will punish any mistakes you make, so don’t get cocky and try and only go for attacks when you’ve got clear openings. His axe jump is a great time to get in a hit, as it’s much safer to be closer to him when he does that. Stay away from the corners and don’t try and jump over him unless he’s already done something, as it’s far too easy to have him launch into an axe jump just as you clear him.
If you go for a melee attack as he’s moving, make sure to back dash right after it connects, as he’ll often follow up your attack with one of his own.
When the final boss pops, grab as many restorative items as you need, but try and leave the unneeded ones for during the fight, as you never know when you might need a little boost.
There are a handful of dangerous attacks during this fight that you need to watch out for.
Ground Spears – When he travels to the middle of the room, rush over to him and just bounce on his head with down strikes until the spears vanish. Pray for this attack, as it’s a bunch of free damage and will give you a nice breather.
Vertical Swords – Put as much room as possible between you and the boss when he does this attack, as he’ll start walking while they’re still launching upwards. If you’re too close, you might get caught between swords and take a hit trying to escape him.
Horizontal Swords – Same general idea here. Back up and watch the side of the screen, then put your years of experience playing Mars Matrix to use dodging the swords as they come. Try and plan a route through them as best as you can, but the best option is to stand still and only move if necessary. If you’re playing a Barbarian, save your shout for ones with multiple low level swords. Same for a Paladin with shield block.
For some reason, I found that jumping into him when attacking gave me the most maneuverability, especially when it came dodging his occasional swings.
Again, like with all the other bosses, take your time and only go for sure hits.
Once you finish him, enjoy your new trophy and revel in being able to post on NeoGAF that the Thanatophobia trophy is “totally not that bad, god.” Then tell your spouse that you’re deleting the game and she’ll never have to hear that damn music ever again.