Top 5 Roguelikes
Almost 30 years ago, a game called Rogue was released to the world. It was all but intricate in its presentation, using simple ASCII graphics and a simple color scheme. But underneath the old-school GUI was gameplay that was far beyond its time. You could explore a procedurally generated dungeon for as long as you liked. Until, that is, you meet your inevitable death and have to start anew. These gameplay mechanics proved to be successful, and Rogue spawned a genre of its own, known as ‘roguelike’. Some games blur the lines between roguelikes and other genres, dubbed with the sub-genre specification ‘roguelite’.
These games are defined by procedural generation and permanent character death, and have continued to spawn a decent amount of very unique games. This list will include both roguelikes and roguelites, but they all share these defining characteristics of a roguelike, giving all of them the primary calling cards of the genre at the very least.
5. Dungeons of Dredmor
Available on: PC
DoD is a strange game, one that is borderline impossible to take seriously. Every single line in the game is a joke, all the way down to item and skill descriptions. But, the lighthearted nature aside, it’s a pretty hardcore game both in terms of difficulty and depth. There is a grid overlay over top of the dungeon, and every time you move, your enemy moves. Pretty simple gameplay, but there are so many options and methods to conquering the dungeon that it comes off as almost overwhelming. It will take a few playthroughs to get the hang of things, and many more playthroughs to see any semblance of mastery over the Dungeons of Dredmor. Quirky and fun, albeit a little frustrating, the gameplay is enough to keep fans of both RPGs and roguelikes coming back for more delving. Definitely the most ‘pure roguelike’ game on this list, complete with several expansions and a huge mod community.
4. FTL – Faster Than Light: Advanced Edition
Available on: PC
The world of sci-fi gaming is ruled by tons of intricate titles, usually introducing a huge universe packed to the brim with intergalactic lore. Whoever got their hands on the idea to condense this intricacy into a more simplistic form and create a whole new way to play games was definitely onto something. FTL is a highly strategic game that has you controlling a ship that is traveling through different maps of the cosmos, while you avoid bad situations, run from the powerful army that is pursuing you, and make the best of the currency and upgrades that you earn. Like any other roguelike, there is a moderate amount of luck involved. You could have a splendid run, and travel deep into the heart of the universe, or you could run into one too many bad situations and barely make it past square one. It’s all on how you manage your resources, handle the (sometimes a tad complicated) ship-to-ship combat, and make choices that will benefit you in the ways you need. With many different ship layouts to unlock, and tons of different ways to upgrade your ship, this game has loads of replayability and keeps you hooked on trying to find the best method to escape the encroaching enemy ships and get to the end of the game. But… good luck.
3. Rogue Legacy
Available on: PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, PC
Rogue legacy is a curious little project, fusing genealogy, platforming, and both roguelike and rpg elements into one very unique experience. Rogue Legacy allows you to live the many lives of a seemingly endless bloodline of dungeon-delvers. Every time you die within the walls of the randomizing dungeon, you continue play as the son or daughter of your character, giving you the choice of 3 different heirs with their own unique set of traits that includes their class and many possible different buffs/debuffs. Along the years, you can upgrade the family castle to make improvements to classes, stats, and other things that will help you along in the dungeon. This makes the platforming gameplay within the dungeon a different experience every time, eventually requiring pretty intense skill and reflexes. Obviously, there’s a lot of depth to the experience, as you mold and shape your own method to conquering the family dungeon. A unique (and, admittedly, somewhat frustrating) experience that’s not to be missed.
2. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Available on: Playstation Vita, Playstation 4, PC
From the desk of famed developer and comic artist Edmund Mcmillen, creator of Super Meat Boy and The Basement Collection, comes The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. It’s a peculiar little game, with simplistic arcade-style gameplay accompanying a hellish atmosphere filled with common fears brought to life in their worst form. Sometimes things get a bit creepy or disgusting, even giving some of both of these traits with some very…. Oedipus-inspired references to poor little Isaac’s twisted childhood. You work your way through floors that each contain a network of randomly-generated rooms full of items that can either help or hinder your journey. There are many chances to improve, and many opportunities to take a gamble against your wallet or your health that could improve yourself even further. Rebirth is packed with random boss battles, treasure rooms, and the occasional arcade or room-sized womb full of hearts. The atmosphere really fuses with the humor and gameplay to create a unique experience that could only come from the mind of Edmund McMillen.
1. Don’t Starve: Reign of Giants
Available on: Playstation Vita, Playstation 4, PC
If you’ve spent some time in the world of Don’t Starve, it probably holds a special place in your heart. It’s the perfect fusion of survival and roguelike, creating one crazy Tim Burton-esque experience that has almost no comparison. The desolate, lonely, and sometimes desperate atmosphere only makes the experience more of a worthwhile one. Whether you’re starving to death, taking on a pack of nightmare hounds, or simply trying not to suffer death by insanity, there’s always something to worry about. Giants roam the land that destroy everything in their path, and walruses on the hunt pursue anything alive in the winter wasteland. You’ll have to craft walls, cooking devices, scientific advancements, weapons, clothing, magical things, aviaries, breeding houses *takes breath* and many other things to get yourself through the harsh and unpredictable situations. It’s hard to get enough of this game, and the hours will melt away with each attempt at survival. There’s quite a few playable characters to unlock with different stats and traits that give different advantages at survival, and enough content to give you something new to look into every time you play the game. Don’t Starve is one hell of an experience, bringing a unique environment and fresh gameplay to the table. It’s available at a great price on any platform, so you have no excuse not to give it a go. Oh, and there’s a multiplayer version out as of recently, called Don’t Starve Together. This makes Don’t Starve one of very few roguelikes that have some sort of multiplayer gameplay, and it’s a very well-crafted cooperative experience.
Inspired by the revolutionary gameplay of a single game from the 80s, the roguelike/roguelite genre is one that does not garner as much respect as it deserves. If you’ve never given the genre a chance, try one of the game on this list. Whether or not you love roguelikes, all of these games are beautiful additions to the genre that aren’t to be overlooked. May this glorious genre live on.
3440 Views // January 30, 2015