Great Roguelike Games To Play Right Now

Rogue” was one of the most important games of the 1980s. Its progressively generated dungeons, permanent death and loose fantasy plot inspired generations of spiritual successors. If you’re looking for a fun throwback adventure exploring dungeons and fighting monsters, these are the roguelike (and roguelite) games for you.

What makes a roguelike game?

Roguelike games are inspired by the original “Rogue” (and its sequels), though the specifics of what separates a roguelike game from any other role-playing video game are hard to pin down. In fact, to try and make things clearer, a group of fans created the Berlin Interpretation at the 2008 International Roguelike Development Conference.

Under the Berlin Interpretation, a game is measured by how roguelike it is on these eight main factors:

  1. Like many dungeon crawling classics, it uses random generation to create its maps. This increases replayablility, because you’re never playing the exact same game twice.
  2. The game has permadeath: When your character dies, you have to start again.
  3. The game is turn-based, so you have time to think about your moves and actions. (This also means you don’t need a super powerful gaming computer to play most roguelike games.)
  4. You can do anything you want and perform any of your actions in any situation. When you’re cornered by a monster, you’re the boss.
  5. The game has lots of complex overlapping game systems that allow you to complete different tasks in many different ways. For example, to get past a guard you can sneak, shoot them from afar, rush them with a sword, lay a trap and do lots more.
  6. Resources matter and are in short supply. Things like health potions need to be conserved and used at the right moments.
  7. Your (sometimes unstated) goal is to kill lots of monsters.
  8. You have to explore the map and discover what unidentified items do. These can change between play-throughs. For example, a “yellow potion” in one run might heal you, while in another it might poison you.

As well as roguelike games, there are also roguelite (or roguelike-like) games. These are also inspired by “Rogue” and roguelike games’ gameplay, but don’t always fit the same dungeon crawler game aesthetic.

And after that, it all gets very complex. The term is so widely used that there are disagreements over whether some of the most popular roguelike games are roguelike enough to be roguelike games, or if they’re really roguelite games.

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The best roguelike games to play now

Whether you want to call them roguelike games, roguelike-like games, roguelite games or just fun RPGs, there are lots of great “Rogue”-inspired video games you can play right now. Check out these favorites:

  • Spelunky 2,” the sequel to the original “Spelunky,” is one of the best new roguelike games you can get. You play as Ana Spelunky, who has to explore caverns deep within the moon to find her parents. There’s even online multiplayer, so if you’re looking for a roguelike co-op game, it’s the one to get.
  • Slay the Spire” combines a digital card game with a roguelike game that leans into the randomness of the original “Rogue.” No two play-throughs will be the same as the power and cost of cards change every time you die.
  • Darkest Dungeon” asks, what if adventuring wasn’t easy? This turn-based RPG is dark and forces you to deal with the psychological stresses your team of flawed heroes face as they encounter unimaginable horrors.
  • The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth” is one of the best iOS roguelike games, though it’s also available on other platforms. Like the original “Rogue,” its almost endlessly replayable, with more than 100 unique items, 50 enemy types and 20 bosses. There are hundreds of hours of gameplay.
  • Enter the Gungeon” takes the roguelike dungeon-crawling formula and adds guns. Lots and lots and lots of guns. It’s fast paced, super fun and even has a co-op mode.
  • Rogue Legacy” calls itself roguelite rather than roguelike, because when you die, your child succeeds you in your quest. Each child is completely unique and randomly generated, so you never know what the next generation will bring to the game.
  • Most roguelike games stick to vaguely fantasy settings. “FTL: Faster Than Light” takes the same gameplay formula and brings it to space. Instead of dark dungeons, you’re flying around in a spaceship trying to save the galaxy. It’s totally different, but still has all the elements people love about “Rogue.”
  • With a host of Game of the Year awards, “Hades” is widely regarded as one of the best roguelite games ever made. You’re trapped in the Underworld and have to battle your way free from the clutches of the god of the dead himself. It’s a lot faster and more action packed than many of the games on this list.

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