Hey guys, I'm here to talk to you about a little subgenre of CRPGs called roguelikes. What are roguelikes, you ask? You ever play Diablo? It's kind of like that. But harder.
To me, a rogulike is three things:
1) Randomly generated levels - It might have a static overworld (such as ADOM), but every dungeon you enter will be random each game you play. And trust me - you'll be playing lots of games.
2) Emphasis on combat - The typical object of a roguelike is to descend into a dungeon and kill the big monster, which is usually preceded by killing lots and lots and lots (and lots
) of other monsters. Combat is the centerpiece of most roguelikes.
3) Absolutely brutal and unforgiving difficulty - I'm exaggerating a little here, but roguelikes are typically really, really hard. And when you die, your save is deleted, so you can't just reload and try again. As a result they're usually pretty niche.
An additional trait of the genre (but not something I consider integral to the core of it) are ASCII graphics (and once you learn just how much stuff is in your typical roguelike, you'll know why most roguelike developers choose to eschew graphics). Some people say tiles make the games less fun. I say, whatever, they're still roguelikes, so who gives a fuck.
So what are some roguelikes, you ask?I - The Classics
These are the games that in some way are usually considered to be the inspirations of later roguelikes. I've tried to include links with further information if possible.Rogue
- The original. This is why all games of this type are called roguelikes. It's also the simplest of the genre, with the aim to reach the bottom of the dungeon, retrieve the Amulet of Yendor, and return to the surface with it.Moria
- Based heavily on Tolkien's works, the object of this game is to enter the Mines of Moria and slay the Balrog. A variant of this later became...Angband
- Another, more famous roguelike based on Tolkien's works. Also notable for the sheer numbers of variants it's spawned - far too many to list here, but it includes, ZAngband
(based on Zelazny's works, though it later included an absurd amount of other things), OAngband
, and ToME
, which originally was a variant but has since become something entirely separate. There are seriously a ridiculous amount of variants for this game, just a few of which are listed here
- Probably the most direct descendant to Rogue, it follows the same basic goals as its ancestor - descend to the bottom of the dungeon and retrieve the Amulet of Yendor - only with a massive amount of additional quests, items, monsters, side dungeons, and other things. Also notable because you can play as a tourist, which is the worst class in anything ever. A popular saying is "The DevTeam thinks of everything", referencing the fact that there is often an actual result for doing unexpected things. A popular variant of Nethack is...Slash'EM
- Which stands for Super Lotsa Added Stuff Hack - Extended Magic. It, well, adds a lot of extra stuff to Nethack, some of which was added back into Nethack itself.ADOM
- Probably my favorite out of this bunch. The world of Ancardia is being corrupted slowly, and the source is the mysterious Drakalor Chain. As an adventurer you must figure out what's wrong, and try and stop the chaos infestation before it envelops the entire world. The game includes multiple endings, an interesting corruption mechanic, and just a whole mess of stuff. Probably the game I've played the most - though I've still never come close to beating it. Also notable for the fact that the creator ran an Indiegogo campaign to resurrect development of it, and not only did it succeed, it wildly exceeded expectations. The game's development will be restarted and many new things added, assuming the guy doesn't just take the money and run. He's also still developing ADOM 2.Dungeon Crawl
- I probably have the least amount of time logged with this game, but I know people love it, especially the Stone Soup variant.II -Games That Might Not Be Classic, But They're Old And I Still Like Them, Damn It
Here are just a few roguelikes I enjoy, but they were never particularly notable.Alphaman
- A goofy post-apocalyptic romp through a ruined world. You're to stop The Grinch from releasing deadly nerve toxin over the world... Or something. It's been a while, but I played this a lot back in the day.Ragnarok/Valhalla
- Based off norse mythology, you're to help out the gods during Ragnarok by bringing them their artifacts - Odin's spear, Thor's hammer, etc. It used to cost money, but now it's free. Also notable because it does, in fact, have a persistent save system.IVAN
- A thoroughly brutal (and just as thoroughly unfinished) roguelike. Especially interesting for the dismemberment mechanic, this game is even crueler than most games. Don't fuck with hedgehogs, because they will rip your head off, no joke. The game was never really 'finished', and I'm not sure if there even is an actual ending to it.The UnReal World
- Possibly the most bizarre roguelike I've played, there's no real goal to this game. You're a Finnish tribesman in the wilds of fantasy Finland, and you must survive. That's it. It's actually quite engaging, though, at least I found it to be so when I played it. Unfortunately, it costs money, and the developer has adopted a rather distasteful (to me) tiered registration system - you can buy the current version of the game for $3, the current 'major' version for $5 (gets you all the updates for the current iteration of the game, 3.14, 3.15, etc), and 'lifetime' registration for $35. Given how slow the development of this game is, though, I'd probably go with the $5 version myself.III - Roguelikes - The New Class
Here I'll list some games that have come about recently - and by 'recently' I mean in the past five or six years. Development of roguelikes is often a slow, slow process, especially considering they're often released entirely for free.DoomRL
- A roguelike version of Doom. I don't need to explain the story to you. It's a surprisingly faithful adaptation, while still staying faithful to its roguelike ancestry.Dungeons of Dredmor
- Possibly the best combination of modern game sensibilities (a functional UI! A tutorial! Nice looking art!) with roguelike roots (difficulty, tile-based movement, etc). It's a fantastic game, and it doesn't hurt that the game has an excellent goofy sense of humor, which is something drastically lacking in most games today, I feel. Also, you can turn off permadeath if you want. But who would do that? Who, I ask you? It does cost money, but it's well worth it. Let my 67 hours played of this game show you how much playtime you can get from it (though 50 of those hours are from mistakenly leaving it onDwarf Fortress
- The actual Fortress Mode of the game isn't a roguelike, but the Adventurer mode is. As it stands, though, there's not a ton to do other than wander around the absurd procedurally generated world and kill monsters in the most gruesomely detailed fashion imaginable.Incursion
- Based off the D20 system. I've never played this, but I've heard people talk glowingly about it.Caves of Qud
- Post-apocalyptic set in a procedurally generated world, with hand-written questlines. I haven't played much of it, but it looks promising.Cataclysm
- The most recent roguelike I've been interested in. Mostly because you're wandering around a post-apocalyptic setting and there are just drugs and guns everywhere. Feel free to snort some cocaine, kill a bunch of zombies, and then find out that you didn't actually kill any zombies because you're schizophrenic.Spelunky
- I totally forgot about this game. Spelunky is a unique sort of roguelike, blending a sidescroller with, well, a roguelike. There's a free version available, and they recently released an amazing XBLA version. Make no mistake, though - this game still has the difficulty of any of the other games listed here.The Binding Of Isaac
- Hey, ever want to play a religion-themed roguelike where you have to kill your mother (and later Satan himself) at the end? The Binding Of Isaac is for you. It's a weird, weird game, but fits well into the genre. Also, excellent music.
I realize there's a lot of stuff I'm missing here - there are seriously an absolute fuckload of roguelikes available. Also, yes, I know Diablo and those type of games are still technically roguelikes, but come on, everyone's heard of those.