The Best Roguelike Games
When it comes to roguelike games, they offer such a high degree of replayability due to the fact that they offer randomly generated levels, item pickups and enemy placements. You might also refer to this style of gameplay as roguelites for its role playing elements and design characteristics.
Roguelike games were spun off the 1980s game Rogue, wildly considered to be the very first in it's genre. This fresh dungeon crawler was released on many computer based consoles, including the Commodore 64.
The very defining characteristic is when you lose all of your lives, you'll have to start off from the beginning of the game. This makes the decision making more careful and creates a sense of urgency as one wrong move and you'll be out of luck.
We'll be covering pure rogue like games, not just a mode you can turn on or off or an unlockable feature that adds roguelite gameplay over top of the core game.
Whether or not the top game in the vast genre is up for debate, you'll find out a ton of options for games like rogue. So make sure to grab your map and players guide, it'll be as useful as cracking a nut with a sledgehammer. Here are our picks for the best roguelike games that are worthy of a playthrough or two today!
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11. Rogue Legacy 2
Taking the incredibly hard gameplay design elements of Castlevania mixed with the backtracking and upgrading elements of Metroid make for an incredible sub-genre of metroidvania. Rogue Legacy 2 takes that formula and adds roguelike elements to the mix. The end result is a game that always feels fresh as you make your way through the randomly generated castle.
Each time you make your way through the runs in Rogue Legacy 2, you'll get to keep the skill you obtained throughout each of the runs. The characters you lose end up on a wall of deaths, similar to a comb of deceased heroes that rest for eternity.
Each of the enemies are in a different area of the level, shooting at you in true bullet hell fashion. The bosses are a joy to play through albeit extremely hard if you're going up against them for the first time. Pattern recognition and making use of the skills is the key to progression.
Expert level platforming and understanding which skill to use are the way you'll be able to carefully make your way throughout the castle. Rogue Legacy 2 takes what makes the original formula great and amplifies it.
Cellar Door games produced a masterpiece in Rogue Legacy 2. Each of the runs feels like a brand new experience that never gets old. You'll be coming back for more each time you begin a game.
10. Into The Breach
We put Into the Breach, the turn based strategy game number 10 on our list. Something about being able to control a team of mechs and defending each of our islands from the alien race is extremely fascinating.
Being able to replay the randomly generated levels adds an entirely new level of replayability. Considering when your team is defeated you'll end up with a permadeath, having to start off the defense strategy with an entirely new set of maps from the start.
The coolest part of Into the Breach is the way you unlock new mechs as you progress. We loved tinkering with the abilities that suits our team's structure like pieces to the puzzle.
The stunning pixel art graphics make Into the Breach a go to for roguelite supremacy. Couple that with some extremely challenging gameplay and a rather interesting storyline and you have yourself a wonderful package in Into the Breach.
9. Enter the Gungeon
Coming in by the ever popular indie developer Dodge Roll is the bullet hell gem, Enter the Gungeon. Having the ability to control one of many characters are you make your way through the randomly generated levels guns blazing.
The top down bullet hell roguelike gameplay will keep you coming back for more with a single glimpse of the sweet looking pixel art from head to toe. The use of the twin stick controls in Enter the Gungeon are executed perfectly. You'll be very reminiscent of games like Smash TV or Robotron: 2084 with how the player movement is executed to perfection.
The way you move as the bullets slowly make your way towards you makes you feel like you're Neo in The Matrix. You'll have to make use of your dodge roll ability in order to make quick use of the space in order to find a clear area to get some shots in.
The thrilling feeling you get as the difficulty increases the further you progress during the game, the vast amount of weapons you'll discover and the endless replayability gives Enter the Gungeon a well deserved spot on our list of the best roguelikes of all time.
If you're old enough to remember the days where dungeon crawlers were simply letters on a screen with different options to select in order to progress. The days where your imagination took precidence over colorful sprite art and groovy soundtracks. This is what Nethack is, a return to the roots of terminal based gameplay.
You may take one glance at the gameplay and think that this isn't what you're used to when it comes to roguelike games. That's only what appears on the surface, procedurally generated dungeons and tasks give you the task of decending toward the bottom floor, defeating each of the bosses that come in between you and the Amulet of Yandor.
Avoiding traps, collecting a vast amount of treasure and fighting a variety of monsters each randomly generated each time you start a game is where Nethack really shines.
It may not be for everyone, but you owe it to yourself to have a good understanding of where games like Hades, Slay the Spire or Enter the Gungeon got their origins from.
7. Crypt of the NecroDancer
Coming to you on our list of the best roguelike games is Crypt of the NecroDancer by Brace Yourself Games. On the surface, this may feel like your typical dungeon crawling, demon filled exploration game. Let us assure you, this party offers a different thrill.
Under the hood, Crypt of the NecroDancer is exactly what it sounds like, a rhythm game with rogue-like elements. The end result is a fantastic blend of the two genres with exhilarating gameplay.
Fighting enemies to the beat of the music is something better experienced for yourself. The rush of your next move as your head is bobbing to the beat makes for a rather unique experience. It really gives you the feeling of playing a game of chess while being at a rave party.
We had to include a space simulation game on our list of the best roguelike games in FTL: Faster Than Light. What gives FTL the edge over other dungeon crawling games is the theme. You're set out to control a spacecraft and navigate through a series of solar systems rather than making your way throughout a creepy dungeon.
Along the way you'll have to decide how you allocate your hard to come by resources and upgrades that you'll need along the way. One wrong decision and you'll have to go through the randomly generated events all over again.
If you're like us, there's a good chance you'll be able to sink 20-30 hours into FTL considering how much there is to explore and complete. That's about as good as most AAA games at a much reduced cost on most online stores. This gives you an incredible value to gameplay ratio with how much meat is on the bones in FTL.
The high level of difficulty and incredibly unique gameplay features will send you screaming back for more as you carefully plan your attack in FTL. We also consider Faster Than Light one of the best indie games of all time.
5. Dead Cells
With so many quality games to choose from, it's getting increasingly more difficult to decide which games cracked the top five on our list of the best roguelike games. Look no further than Dead Cells, a game that'll beg you for one more round of gameplay before you have to go do other productive things throughout your day.
This action platformer is silky smooth as you make your way through the ever changing castle. Battling enemies while collecting powerups and equipment making it easier to progress through your journey to succeed.
The pixel art in Dead Cells is absolutely stunning. Each of the sprites are carefully drawn out with multiple layers of animation. Truly making you feel like a comic book is brought to life before your eyes.
Dead Cells makes for a challenging experience. You'll have to master your reflexes while avoiding making the slightest mistake along the way. The branching paths add another layer of replayability. One wrong move and you'll be sent back from scratch, having to conquer the journey all over again.
4. Spelunky 2
What do you get when you take an almost perfect action adventure game, refine each of the aspects that weren't executed correctly and make it bigger and more immersive? You get the sequel to Spelunky developed and published by Mossmouth.
Some of the features the sequel has to offer are there are now multiple characters. In case Spelunky was getting stale by having the same character to select from. The new biomes you can explore make for a remarkable experience.
One other wonderful feature is the online multiplayer component where you can team up to make it through the caverns with some friends. Make your way through each of the dungeons while collecting treasures and fighting off enemies that cross your path.
The beautiful sprite art, flawless controls and all of the same gameplay you loved in the original release is all here in Spelunky 2. We truly wish there were as many quality roguelike games like this.
3. Slay the Spire
If you're looking for something completely different, look no further than Slay the Spire. Instead of dungeon crawling, you're set out to build your desk along the likes of the Dominion Card game.
Making your way by climbing the mysterious Spire tower, you'll have to fight your way throughout the randomly generated battles, using your cards to defend, attack or using your magical abilities.
In between the action, you'll be able to add cards to your deck in order to allow for different moves to choose from. You'll also be able to pick up relics that offer a sense of power with their unique properties that can be used passively or actively.
considering it only takes an hour to complete Slay the Spire, the gameplay grants an addicting loop of obtaining cards, figuring out which ones work best and retrying as you lose with your newly acquired knowledge.
Slay the Spire rewards you for experimenting while taking the time to learn. The end result is one of the best roguelike games of all time.
2. The Binding of Isaac
Upon first glance, it may be safe to say that The Binding of Isaac resembles your favorite tunic wearing protagonist in Link. You'd be absolutely correct in saying that this top down dungeon crawler is a game like Zelda.
What differs from the mighty Nintendo mascot is, gone are the towns and fields you're set out to adventure to. The Binding of Isaac focus' on the dungeon crawling aspect to the gameplay. Each dungeon will be randomly generated areas and item starting feature. Some of the items are actually downgrades to the current one you're set out with, so understanding each of the items is worth while as you learn the item parameters.
With such grotesque gameplay makes for such a rewarding experience as you progress throughout each carefully placed boss battle. Isaac plays very similar to Enter the Gungeon in twin-stick shooter madness.
The binding of Isaac rewards you for learning the boss battles and item powerups along your way. With gameplay so exciting and addictive, it's one of the most influential releases of the entire genre to date.
Hades is the perfect example of what a roguelike should play like. The thrill of finally succeeding after failing repeatedly. The action packed role playing experience of a lifetime is something you'll have to experience if you haven't done so already.
As you make your way through the divine level designs, you'll be able to unlock new weapon characteristics, each with their own play style and upgraded parameters. Each time you lose, it'll make you feel like it's part of Hades' storyline and reward you each time you progress further throughout the game.
Once you finally do defeat all of the Greek mythology gods, you'll feel like all of those failed runs were part of the lead up to the big event. Hades never feels like your precious time was wasted with the countless hours you'll sink into the core gameplay.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best roguelike games, carefully selected by our team. This was no easy feat, similar to the games mentioned here. If you enjoyed this list or wish others made the cut, make sure to let us know on Twitter.