Connect with us

20 Best Roguelike Games

Dead Cells Alternative art
Guides

20 Best Roguelike Games

Die, rinse, repeat. It’s Roguelike time.

Rogue Legacy

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

/

Spooky castles and roguelikes go together like pancakes and syrup, a fact that Rogue Legacy truly takes to the next level. The game is a competent platformer, hack-and-slash adventure game, and Metroidvania romp, which uses roguelike elements to make every single run unique.

The coolest feature is in the game’s family tree system. After death, the player is faced with an important choice – which family member will take up the mantle next. Each one features distinct strengths and weaknesses, some being downright hilarious, like excessive flatulence and poor vision in the dark.

Each run earns you money to spend on new abilities and skills, making each one feel important. The boss fights peppered throughout are nail-biting experiences that highlight the need to steadily level up a certain skill. The configuration of the castle changes each time unless money is spent to keep it the same, making treasure runs feel dynamic and unique.

It’s a balancing act of when to give in and take the treasure home and when to push forward to the next area. Seeing how each character’s genetic makeup will have an effect on the game is an absolute joy, and has the ability to change everything from the world’s color palette to the size and speed of each heir. Rogue Legacy is a masterclass in how roguelike elements can produce a challenging yet deeply rewarding experience.

The Binding of Isaac

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

binding of isaac-afterbirth for nintendo switch

The Binding of Isaac is punishing, gruesome, and downright horrifying. It also features some of the best game design in video game history and continues to be a must-play for roguelike fans. The game is packed with a seemingly endless array of disgusting bosses and quirky items. It plays on religious themes by basing its story loosely on the parable of the same name. Isaac is a tormented, tragic soul who constantly finds himself outnumbered and outgunned in a brutal nightmare world. The game has seen huge success over the years, with the developer adding new content and new versions to the game consistently.

The sheer variety on offer here is the main reason to play. No two runs are remotely the same, with Isaac donning new cosmetic items and abilities from the get-go. Great value for money and insanely high praise from critics and fans alike make The Binding of Isaac well worth your time, whichever version you choose to pick up.

Darkest Dungeon

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

There’s always a healthy dose of masochism associated with most roguelike games. Their punishing difficulty, brutal disregard for the player, and few yet tantalizing victories attract a certain kind of gamer. Darkest Dungeon plays on this to incredible results, crafting both a complex RPG and daunting roguelike experience.

In the game, the player controls a party of warriors through a Lovecraftian hellscape, battling all manner of messed-up beasties. The genius, and definitely the scariest, part of the game is that members of your party have a tendency to get sick, develop weird character traits, and, well, go a bit mad.

You’ll be soldiering on through the game when it suddenly becomes clear that someone has rabies, another is speaking to himself, and another is suffering from a complete psychotic collapse. These incidents are brought on by simply existing in Darkest Dungeon’s world, a stark indication of its sheer cruelty.

Spelunky

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

Few games are designed as meticulously as Spelunky. Every single item, enemy, and mechanic has a unique purpose and must be handled as such. It may seem cutesy, with its homages to Indiana Jones and upbeat retro soundtrack but be warned, very few make it out alive. There are five main levels in the game, ranging from UFO-filled ice caves to literal Hell itself, each with its own set of enemies.

It’s comically easy to die in Spelunky, with fall damage amped up and man-eating plants able to one-shot you, so learning the rules first is vital. You can trigger traps by throwing rocks at them, buy new weapons from a store, and regain a heart of health by rescuing the damsel. Spelunky also features co-op play which is just as frantic and likely the reason for many a failed friendship.

Faster Than Light

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

ftl mods

At this point, you might be wondering if roguelikes are exclusively set in castles and underground dungeons. Well, this entry aims for the stars themselves. Faster Than Light gives players a fully upgradable starship with real-time management systems to play with. Every light jump is a roll of the dice in that it can end up with an ally helping you out or space pirates boarding your ship.

The sheer degree of control you have over the weapons, strategies, and upgrades of your ship is spectacular, giving a realistic impression of being the captain of a starship. There are also a ton of mods available, created by an actively involved community which add everything from ship skins to entirely new narrative experiences. Faster Than Light makes every death a learning experience, meaning that you won’t be able to jump back in fast enough.

Dead Cells

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

A Castlevania-style roguelike, Dead Cells offers a fluid action experience featuring a headless protagonist. The game’s best feature is undoubtedly its breadth of weapons. There’s a whip, fire grenades, poison turrets, and more, each with its own distinct strengths and weaknesses. The player must constantly evolve their play style to survive, making use of each enemy’s distinct shortcomings.

The visuals are a little different from others in the genre. While other Castlevania-inspired games favor a red and black color scheme, Dead Cells pops with vibrant blues and greens, giving it a unique style.

As you progress and defeat enemies, you’ll collect Dead Cells, which can be spent on weapons and upgrades. It’s that incremental dominance of an area that makes roguelikes so special that’s at play here, something which Dead Cells executes perfectly.

Downwell

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

ps4

Despite being more stripped back visually, Downwell is no less of a deep roguelike experience. The game is essentially a side-scrolling platformer that scrolls up and down rather than left and right. You have a finite amount of ammo that can only be reloaded by landing, be it on an enemy or a ledge.

Gems are collected, which, in turn, can be spent on perks at the start of each round. The kicker is that some enemies, highlighted in red, cannot be jumped on and must be avoided or shot.

Deciding whether to rush through a stage or methodically take down enemies is the real challenge in Downwell, both having their own advantages. The awesome black, white, and red visuals go a long way in highlighting the brutality at play here. Downwell takes an incredibly simple premise and runs with it, creating a complex and addictive roguelike experience.

Risk of Rain

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

best roguelike games

Strange planets and horrifying monsters await you in Risk of Rain, a Metroidvania game with roguelike elements. Enemies get progressively harder over time, meaning that each run is a mad scramble for resources and XP. After a while, defeating the increasingly difficult enemies becomes second nature as you learn to summon bosses for a boost in XP.

Four-player co-op definitely adds a lot to the experience, making each encounter more tense and dynamic. There are 10 characters to unlock and choose from, each with its own play style. The core mechanic of enemies getting harder as time goes on is enough to make Risk of Rain stand out, and its excellent platforming mechanics take it somewhere even better.

Nuclear Throne

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

best roguelike games

Equal parts insane and methodical, Nuclear Throne drops players into a post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with procedurally generated items and weaponry. The game is more a shoot-em-up than anything else but does feature roguelike systems in the form of rads, which can be used to upgrade a character during each run. These upgrades, called mutations, add bonuses to play, such as increased health and more ammo. They can stack, too, meaning there are lots of different ways to build out a character.

Nuclear Throne’s dedication to shooting makes it immediately accessible and just downright more fun. Themed areas help keep things familiar, but those aside, every level is different, populated with a variety of enemies and items.

Crypt of the NecroDancer

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

crypt of the necrodancer top, rated, playstation 4

Crypt of the NecroDancer puts an awesome twist on the roguelike genre by adding in elements of rhythm games. The game is a dungeon-crawler in which every move must be done in time to a beat, including attacks and exploration. The game’s soundtrack is impeccable and informs every inch of its design, from the way the chessboard world changes color in time to the beat to the way enemies move towards you.

Moving with the beat means that enemies drop more gold on death which, in turn, means better upgrades and weapons for you. It’s always refreshing to come across a completely new concept for a game, especially one as unique as this.

Slay the Spire

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire is an intriguing deviation from the typical roguelike in that it combines card game conventions with the mechanics you’d expect from other mainstays like the others on this list. Mega Crit Games takes familiar RPG dungeon-crawling and mixes it up with card gaming mechanics that should appeal to fans of games like Hearthstone.

As you explore the map, you’ll follow a path by drawing cards from your deck though each action does cost you action points. Everything is resource-based and centers around your deck-building skills. As a result, it’s one of the coolest meldings of genres you’ll find as far as the roguelike persuasion goes. Give it a try if you want something new!

Brogue

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

Brian Walker’s Brogue is a tribute to the game that started it all: Rogue. The 1980s title sparked the genre’s namesake, after all, and Brogue expands on the original game with new and exciting mechanics. It follows one simple premise, putting the original Rogue front and center and imagining how it could have changed if development simply continued into today’s industry.

While it still features ASCII graphics and requires very few resources to run, it’s an excellent game with several layers and complications that you’ll definitely take a shine to, whether you’ve played the original or not.

Enter the Gungeon

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

If you love bullet hell games and would love to see them incorporated into a fantastic roguelike, Enter the Gungeon should be on your radar. You take on the role of a band of misfits as they work to reach the center of the Gungeon to nab its storied treasure: a gun that can effectively “kill” the past. Yeah, that’s a pretty amazing reason to delve into the dangers awaiting them inside, alright.

The bullet hell fortress combines hand-designed rooms with a procedurally-generated maze that’s full of traps, the Cult of the Gundead, who seek to gun you down at every turn, and tons of arms to take on just about any enemy that might come your way. It’s a colorful and zany twist on the “grim dark” aspects of most other roguelikes and well worth investing some time in. You may very well end up an expert in your favorite bullet hell games as an added bonus for playing!

Don’t Starve

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

This survival game features roguelike elements thrown in for good measure, as it forces you to learn how to survive on your own with emergent gameplay and creepy surroundings. Your main objective is to not starve, as the title implies, and there’s very little guidance to help you figure out what the next move is, but that’s okay.

Even though you’ll find yourself having to restart over and over again while learning how best to work with the land, it’s a time sink that’ll keep you fully immersed as new mechanics are introduced every so often. Plus, its gothic sensibilities help it stand out from other games of its ilk. The dark unknown is also appropriately creepy, especially if you opt to play this around Halloween. it fits right in!

Caves of Qud

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

This sci-fi rogue-like places you in the role of a mutant from the dunes and jungle areas of Qud, or from one of a plethora of other locales. You can assemble a unique character from over 70 different mutations and defects (yes, defects) with wings, four arms, other cool stuff like cloning powers, or even flaming hands. All this in order to explore a procedurally-generated map with worlds created out of nearly 1 million maps.

While exploring the game, you can hack off monster limbs, become a spider, form allegiances with beings you never even thought about communicating with, and deal with each character’s death as a permanent happening in this austere role-playing game. It’s certainly one of the most unique roguelike selections to come out in the past year or so, especially considering its sci-fi origins and attempts to think outside the box.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

Gaslight Games’ dark dungeon-crawler finds players starting out at the top floor of a dungeon and then progressing downwards into the rest of the area with escalating difficulty. Every room features a randomly-generated maze with monsters, loot, and traps to be wary of. Combat is turn-based, and you explore the world via a top-down perspective and a tile-based grid.

Your objective? Find and slay Lord Dredmor, the one who rules all the dungeons. Really, though, the game’s more about seeing how far you can get before you succumb to one of the many perils of the series of dungeons and have to pull out and try again. That’s the appeal of most roguelikes, after all though, isn’t it?

Invisible, Inc.

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

Invisible, Inc. finds you taking control of a series of special agents looking to infiltrate the world’s biggest (and most dangerous) corporations. You can choose one of the 10 unlockable characters at the start of the games and six different programs to help you fight your way through security programs. Each playthrough finds you working your way through a randomly-generated world with various loot, enemies, and traps to keep you on your toes.

Your agents, items, and programs will constantly change with each playthrough, and there are even five different game modes to select from, with custom generation settings that let you make each new try better than the last. With a set of animated cutscenes and fully-voiced scenes, there’s plenty of narratives to sink your teeth into here as well.

Desktop Dungeons

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

QCF Design’s Desktop Dungeons picks up the pace in comparison to many of the other roguelikes on this list because you can zip through a dungeon in 10 minutes or less with each try. Of course, let’s be honest. Based on your skill, it’ll probably be a lot shorter than that if you’re new or just not that great at these sorts of games. Billed as being “perfect” to play on your coffee break, there’s plenty of different ways to die.

The game reimagines classic roguelike gameplay as a single-screen puzzler with randomly-generated dungeons, the ability to customize your character, and plenty of buildings to create and unlock, and more. If you just don’t have the time to sink into those other games, this one might be right up your alley instead.

One More Dungeon

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

Stately Snail’s One More Dungeon is just about as close to the traditional roguelike blueprint as they come, but that doesn’t keep it from being entertaining. As a nameless adventurer, you’ve got to reach the final level of the dungeon and take out a pair of obelisks, which are integral to evil villains working to invade the world. Obviously, this means you’ll work your way through procedurally-generated levels rife with over 30 types of enemies and 80 different items to emerge victorious.

This game’s coolest feature, however, is its sanity level, which can change things up significantly for you over the course of the game. You’ve got to make smart use of various artifacts if you don’t want it to totally trip you up. Eternal Darkness fans will definitely want to check this one out.

Unexplored

Best Roguelike Games You Can Play Right Now

Though technically Unexplored is a rogue-lite, it features all the same hallmark features of other roguelikes, with a lower barrier for entry. Featuring a level generator, real-time combat, and free DLC, it’s a great option for those looking to get into the genre. Emergent gameplay and procedurally-generated dungeons, like the rest of the pack, make it exciting to keep returning to over and over, while over 50 bosses ensure you’ll have plenty of reasons to continue doing so.

One of the most unique aspects of the game, however, is its aesthetic. Instead of going for a pixelated look or some sort of throwback, it features a slick and modern coat of paint that ensures it’ll look absolutely excellent while you’re dying over and over. Hey, that still matters, right?

Related Posts
Comments
Continue Reading
To Top