Heya folks! I see that it has been years since the previous Roguelike thread. I figured that I'd slap one together for any Roguelike aficionados out there. To talk about Roguelikes, playing them making them, cool stories, upcoming Roguelike news, etc.
What is a Roguelike?
Generally Roguelikes have the following features:
-Randomly generated content
Or as Wikipedia puts it:
As there is no other place currently to discuss the genre, this thread is primarily about Roguelikes. Not Roguelites, Roguelikelikes, games inspired/influenced by Roguelikes, or games with Roguelike elements.
Roguelike is a subgenre of role-playing video games, characterized by procedural level generation, turn-based gameplay, tile-based graphics, permanent death of the player-character, and typically based on a high fantasy
narrative setting. Roguelikes descend from the 1980 game Rogue, particularly mirroring Rogue's character- or sprite-based graphics. From 2000 onwards, new variations of roguelikes incorporating other gameplay genres, thematic elements and graphical styles have become popular, and are sometimes called "roguelike-like", "rogue-lite", or "procedural death labyrinths" to reflect the variation from titles which mimic the gameplay of traditional roguelikes more faithfully.
Roguelikes tend to have all the previously mentioned features, as well as being easily distinguishable from games of other genres. An FPS game with Roguelike elements? Not a Roguelike. A platformer with Roguelike elements? Not a Roguelike. Usually, if you need to explain why a game is a Roguelike, it's probably not a Roguelike. It's very much a case of being self-evident. "Roguelike" is nowadays very much a marketing buzzword for indie games, and is more often than not used to describe games that may be just permadeath, perhaps containing randomized content. These tend to be more accurately covered by PDL (Procedural Death Labyrinth) as a term, since they do not share enough features to be generally similar to Roguelikes, or even other games similarly inspired by Roguelikes.
So where did all these games come from? Starting with Rogue back in 1980, combining features from a variety of previous attempts at computer RPGs. The big three styles are Rogue, Hack (and its descendant Nethack), and Moria (and its descendant Angband). These days, most games in the genre tend to implement different ideas and features, straying from the traditional formula.
The great grand-daddy. The game from which all roguelikes more or less trace their descent. There were some attempts prior to Rogue, but it was Rogue which established the genre and many of its staples. Find the Amulet of Yendor and escape. The classic objective.
Hack & Nethack
The first roguelike to include multiple dungeons and a surface world sort of thing (a hub town of sorts) connecting them. I don't actually know much about this, having never played it. These days the latest versions can be tough to find as well.
Moria & Angband
Probably the second most well known Roguelikes, directly inspired by Rogue and grown over the decades to contain an absurd degree of complexity. Known for its randomness, brutality, and replayability. As with Rogue, the objective is to find the Amulet of Yendor. You don't plan to escape however, and instead want to offer it to your god as a sacrifice to ascend to immortality.
Still worth playing, a true milestone of gaming. Nethack at least.
Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup
Roguelikes heavily influenced by Tolkien, the objective is to kill a Balrog within the Mines of Moria. Or defeat Morgoth, if you're playing Angband. They are extremely tactics and combat focused, and Angband especially can be blisteringly difficult. Many people have never gotten far, despite years of playing.
Worth trying for the theme, and solid gameplay refined over decades.
A continuously developed Roguelike, tracing its descent from Crawl, and Linley's Dungeon Crawl. It is one of the most popular Roguelikes these days, and has a wide variety of races and classes (some of them very different from what you're probably used to) to choose from. It's a dungeon crawler, and a very good one at that.
You can also play/watch games online!
Ancient Domains of Mystery features an overworld, a plot, and randomized dungeons. An all-around solid Roguelike, it is due to receive an updated version (https://i.imgur.com/xKxBFkj.png
) on Steam in the upcoming months.
A classic worth playing!
Dwarf Fortress is basically the originator of its own genre. It's included in this list due to the adventurer mode, which is a wacky Roguelike mode featuring much of the insane mechanics of DF as a whole. The wrestling system itself is hilariously comprehensive, allowing you to suplex an enemy, and systematically break every bone in their body if the fancy strikes you. As the game is under development, many mechanics can be unexpectedly unbalanced, such as capturing butterflies to use as shuriken, decapitating ogres.
DF also features the better known Fortress mode, where you build a fortress with idiotic dwarves that follow your orders to their best ability (i.e. not well), and mostly you'll be finding new and interesting ways to have your fortress implode on itself, usually in tragicomedic ways.
Dwarf fortress is under constant development, and has been for a long time. Features get added, things break, new things appear. It's a living, monstrous thing, that keeps getting more and more complex. It'll probably eventually end up being the most comprehensive fantasy world life simulator ever made. Well, it already is.Oh, and it has a difficulty wall a mile high. Use wikis, online tutorials, and any aid and tips and tricks you can muster. It's a doozy to learn, but incredibly rewarding once you do.
Also, never trust the elves. Strike the earth!
Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead. A game about surviving after the apocalypse. Basically anything and everything apocalyptic has been jammed into one game. Zombies? Got it. Skynet? Got it. Dangerous survivors? Got it. Mutant experiments run amok? Got it. Fungaloids from space? Got it. You get the idea.
Featuring a robust character generation system, crafting mechanics, and the ability to significantly evolve your character as the game progresses (provided you manage to survive) lends a huge amount of replayability to this. You can aim to be a survivalist, cyborg, mutate yourself with dodgy canisters of mutagens into a velociraptor, the possibilities are numerous indeed!
Can be a bit tough to get started with, but very rewarding.
Tales of Maj'Eyal
Essentially a unique game, there's really nothing quite like it. A survival Roguelike set in a fictionalized version of Iron Age Finland. You create a character, and try to live your life. Battle malnutrition, weather, hypothermia, wild animals, evil eastern tribes (who could that possibly be?), etc.
Features a very comprehensive and realistic crafting system, simulates life in villages, cultures, and simulates the aspects of life in the Iron Age to a degree that no other game does. It even has a graphical interface and tiles, and is being continuously improved and developed. As it has been for over 20 years. This is not a game abandoned by its developer.
URW has been Greenlit, and will probably show up on Steam soon-ish. Regardless, the latest versions are available on the developer's website.
Don't forget to check the Mods linked there, including a graphical overhaul, increased recipes, and more. How many games allow you to track and hunt animals, skin them, cook the meat and tan the skins. Sew clothes for yourself, fell trees, build a cottage, fish, grow plants, domesticate animals, adventure, become a cannibal, and more? The developer is working on setting up an entire family system as well. It's the game for you, if you want to play a legit survival game, and the historical setting has any allure.
Originally Tales of Middle Earth, which in turn were based on Angband, the developer of ToME veered into a separate setting and theme. Features a customizable graphical interface, some MMOish ability cooldowns, a bunch of unlockable classes a whole bunch of other things. Also available on Steam. While the versions are free on the developer's website, the Steam version includes the donor bonuses. Which are apparently some extra features and items, or thereabouts. Still, it's nice to support Roguelike development.
A solid game to play, good to lure people into Roguelikes due to a graphical interface, and easier adoption of mechanics, at least if the person in question has some familiarity with MMOs or RPGs.
Essentially a modernized, prettier and overall smoother and better Rogue.
'nuff said. Play this instead of Rogue.
Caves of Qud
Iter Vehemens ad Necem (violent way to death). A game about a hapless banana plantation slave (you) tasked with delivering a letter, which leads to a monster hunt and/or clericide (I guess that's what killing a high priest would be?).
Features an extensive system for dismemberment, but not to worry! Losing a few limbs is okay if you keep your life. You can always try to get them back through piety and the blessings of the gods, or maybe just steal the missing parts from an unlucky passerby. Limb reattachment for everybody!
A Roguelike set in a post-apocalyptic future, with plenty of scifi archeotech, vault-dwelling True Men, filthy mutants (mutants are fun!), camel-men, severe lack of water (it is both required for sustenance as well as used as currency), and plenty of world and caves to explore.
The ASCII version of CoQ is free, while there is a version running a pretty swell tileset available on Steam. The game is still under development, but it's very solid already.
A Roguelike set in the early 1900s, where you investigate the Church of Starry Wisdom in search of an artifact called The Shining Trapezohedron. Which supposedly is the key to all the secrets of the universe. While avoiding
monsters and going insane.
Yeah, it's straight up Lovecraft. A solid roguelike under development.
It's a Roguelike version of Doom. What's not to love? You run around, gunning down demons.
Until you are the demons.
A silly Japanese Roguelike, with nifty graphical tiles and nutty humour. All sorts of random stuff happens, you can do and see and learn a multitude of more or less useful things, and adventure in a whimsical Roguelike setting. The game is something of a mix between a life sim, sandbox RPG and a traditional Roguelike. You can do things ranging from starting a farm to raising pets, adventuring or running a store.
Definitely worth trying just for the batshit hijinx!
Since development stopped a few years ago, the base Elona version doesn't see any more updates. Elona+, a version continued by other developers based on the released source code is still regularly updated, and features many more things to see, do and experience compared to the base version.
For the Tolkien fans, Sil is something delicious as far as roguelikes go. As Drake put it:
Sil is a carefully researched use of Middle Earth as a setting, specifically Middle Earth in the First Age. The First Age was the childhood of the Elves and a time of incredible wonder and horror. A time that is the root of all conflict, when many of the first Elves lived in the West with the gods, among the light of the Trees. In these times the greatest Elf who lived captured the light in three perfect gems, called the Silmarils. The gods demanded the gems and the Elf refused, creating a schism that wasn't healed until the events of The War of the Ring. Eventually the Silmarils come to the posession of the dark lord Melkor, who wears them upon an Iron Crown as he sits on his throne, deep within his fortress of Angband, the Iron Hell. Your goal is to descend to the depths, knock the crown from Morgoth's head, pry loose a Silmaril and escape. A deed worthy of the greatest songs and legends. A deed that forged the eventual salvation of Middle Earth in the Third Age.
If you've ever read the Silmarillion you should play this. Because not only is all the lore correct, but the game's systems are fantastically in tune with the setting. You won't find scrolls of Magic Missile or Identify. Instead you learn Songs of Power. Song is a very powerful force in Tolkien. Probably the most powerful since it was used to create the universe. Song can drive your enemies to fear and panic, drive you to incredible fierceness in battle, light your surroundings, and even bring quiet in a wonderfully useful paradox that feels more like magic than any Magic Missile spell I've ever cast. The game is all about light and darkness, song and silence. The combat system is totally redone too, creating a tactical system of risk and reward, running battles and desperate last stands. Gear you find is all lore inspired, appropriately named and imbued with subtle powers that enhance your skills. Your character can learn to forge much of this gear for themselves. Round this out with a fantastic stealth system and you get the greatest implementation of Tolkien's Middle Earth in a game I have ever seen. It's far more than just using the right words for things, all of the elements come together to recreate the dark tone and desperation of late First Age Middle Earth. Carry a light into the darkness with a song in your heart and a blade in your hand.
It's pretty awesome!