If you don’t have to immerse yourself in a game for hours, roguelikes are an appealing alternative that offers shorter game sessions and still shows satisfactory progress.
Roguelikes, named after the 1980 dungeon crawler Rogue, usually contain some basic game mechanics that make them stand out. Levels are often procedurally generated and offer a different experience in each game, enemies are tough and death will often be permanent. All of these mechanics together make for a pretty intense gaming experience, and games like this often take hours to really master.
Today we’re taking a look at some of the best Roguelike games currently available. Not all of these games fall under the textbook definition of a Roguelike, but they have enough features in common with the genre that they could instead be called “Roguelites”.
Release date: December 21, 2008
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Chrome OS
When people think of Roguelikes, Spelunky is often one of the first games that come to mind. As the name suggests, you make your way through procedural caves, dodge enemies and collect loot. This makes each run unique, especially when you consider the many different items on offer.
There are several types of enemies to deal with at different levels, including The Mines, The Jungle, The Ice Caves, The Temple and a secret bonus area. There are also 20 different explorers to start your adventure with, which adds a lot of variety to the game.
Spelunky was originally released as freeware in 2008, but eventually received HD remake treatment in 2012. The character design, soundtrack, and aesthetics of this game quickly made it a fan favorite, and the community quickly got down to work to develop countless mods for the freeware execution.
Kill the tower
Release date: January 23, 2019
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android
The latest title on our list today is Slay the Spire. This title has introduced a new perspective on the card game genre and an interesting mix of villainous elements that make each run as rewarding as the last one.
Each game takes the form of a run to kill the tower. You choose one of four characters and make your way through random encounters where you face different types of enemies, elites and a boss at the end of each floor.
The entire action takes place in the turn-based card game. You start with a stack of mostly basic “Strike” and “Defense” cards that you can use in combat, as well as a special starting relic. If you defeat an enemy encounter, you can improve your deck by adding a new card or relic when you defeat a stronger enemy.
As with many card games, this is addictive. You will not kill the tower on the first or second attempt …
The more runs you lose, the more you will learn and you will feel like you are progressing at an impressive rate in no time – one of the great joys of a Roguelike.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Release date: November 4, 2014
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, new Nintendo 3DS, Xbox One, iOS, Nintendo Switch
The Binding of Isaac is a title that has a cult status in the gaming world. Originally started as a flash game, this title was later remastered and published on the PC with a wealth of additional content.
In The Binding of Isaac, you make it through a procedurally generated level with a boss to finally defeat them – really villainous stuff. What makes this game stand out is the enormous number of items you can find, some good and some bad, that have a massive impact on your run.
There are over 540 items to pick up and it will be a long time before you remember which ones are good and which ones are bad. A big selling point of this game is that the items you pick up can easily overwhelm your character or even cause you to accidentally kill yourself in the next room. With each death that means the end of the run, you have to start over on your next attempt and pick up completely different items.
The gameplay in The Binding of Isaac is challenging and rewarding. You’ll need to learn enemy attack patterns, practice evasion, and consider whether to trade some of your hard-earned HP for a stronger item.
Enter the gungeon
Release date: April 5, 2016
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
When weapons are more your thing, Enter the Gungeon is an exciting top-down roguelike where your enemies are bullets and you have over 220 weapons to take them down with. This mixture of dungeon crawling and gunplay leads to an interesting variant of the classic hack and slash dungeon genre.
The action here is so quick that you don’t stand still very often. Instead, you’ll dodge, roll, turn tables, and avoid boss attacks to survive. The levels, layouts, bosses, and item pickups are also randomly generated, making each run feel fresh.
The mechanics are easy to learn in Enter the Gungeon, but getting health pickups can be difficult and things can get sour quickly. You need to learn some of the patterns the bosses use and develop lightning-fast reflexes to survive.
Release DATE: January 19, 2016
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
At first, Darkest Dungeon may not feel like a villainous game as it takes place over a single, long campaign, but it does contain some key elements that will get it right. Darkest Dungeon is a turn-based role-playing game with a frightening level of difficulty. In a unique version of the genre, your party members will find injuries and negative traits as they traverse dungeons and experience mental breakdowns – which is to be expected as soon as you see the horrors inside.
You need to be careful about your strategy in battle, as a wrong move can quickly cause one of your favorite characters to die, which in turn can wipe out the entire group. In Darkest Dungeon, death is permanent. The characters you personally named, with whom you played and connected for hours, can (and will) die.
This leads to fairly intense gameplay, especially since part of the fight is luck-based and lets you pray that your opponent won’t evade your attack. You will collect treasures on your travels that you can use to improve your characters and even certain buildings in the city, adding another level of management to this game.
We are now at the end of our list of the five best roguelikes of 2020. If this is a genre that you think appeals to you, you should check out some of these titles. The best thing about roguelikes is that they are usually a fraction of the price of AAA games and are often on sale for less than $ 10.
This article could easily have been called 50 of the best roguelikes in 2020 if we had the time. There are so many great games just waiting to be discovered. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out other great games like FTL, Dead
Cells, Crypt of the NecroDancer, Dungeons of Dreadmor, and Hades.
Make sure to comment below on what roguelikes you’ve played recently and what you love about them. If you want to stay up to date with the latest news and see more lists like this, be sure to follow us Twitter.