The Roguelike genre has become a particularly confusing one for gamers to try and define. There are many games that are rogue-lite and others that are roguelike and then there are some that don’t fit any of these terms but are still somewhat similar in style to the games that originally inspired this genre to become what it is today.
Whether some of these games don’t count as actual roguelike ones, there is a huge number that are massively fun adventures that give off the same feeling as a game that actually does resemble the game Rogue, which the genre was originally named for.6 Enter The Gungeon
Roguelike games usually don’t cross over into the territory of gaming known as bullet hell, but in a case like Enter The Gungeon that transition has been made rather flawlessly. Indeed, this game manages to mix themes like procedurally generated dungeons and a lot of firearms with a fun co-op style that allows up to four players to work together.
The story is about searching through these various dungeons for a gun that can kill the past, a unique idea that the “gungeoneers” are desperate to find. Featuring roguelike elements like perma-death, randomly encountered loot and gear that can be upgraded, and plenty more, Enter The Gungeon gives a simplistic version of the roguelike experience that players don’t have to think about too much.5 Dead Cells
A common genre blend in gaming is that of the roguelike and the Metroidvania style, as these elements simply mix well together and both work well for Indie developers looking to create something beautiful and fun. Players take control of “The Prisoner” who has to work their way through an island riddled with disease in an attempt to slay the diabolical king of the island.
Roguelike elements like procedural generation, gaining of weapons and other treasure as the game goes on and permadeath are all present. The design and style are reminiscent of games like Castlevania, which even got a DLC in the game, the 2D side-scrolling style of the maps, which are filled with various enemies will give players the impression of games they love without adding too much complexity or anything wildly different in terms of the mechanics.4 UnderMine
A roguelike dungeon crawler that was released in 2020 for a variety of platforms, UnderMine is about a variety of characters who are procedurally generated, and are all looking for treasure in a deserted mine. Using the mine instead of the more traditional dungeon-style chambers makes for a nice change to the game without drastically shifting the style of either a roguelike or a dungeon crawler.
Players defeat monsters as they move through the mine and level up to become strong enough to defeat bosses. When players die, half of their cash and equipment is saved for the beginning of the next character’s playthrough, giving them an easier, less stressful type of roguelike experience than the more traditional permadeath system.3 Hades
Hades is one of the most famous and well-regarded roguelike games to be released in the last decade. Set in the Greek Mythological version of the Underworld, Hades follows the son of Hades as he attempts to escape the realm of his father and find his mother among the Gods. The fascinating story built around Greek Mythology is only half the fun of this game.
The other half comes in controlling Zagreus as he commits various hack-and-slash-style atrocities against a variety of Underworld creatures. Featuring procedural generation and plenty of loot, the game also allows players to unlock abilities using their gold to help them get further in future runs. The genius of Hades is in the hack-and-slash style, which makes it easy to turn off the brain and play through in a wild, button-mashing style.2 The Binding Of Isaac
A much-loved game that was released in 2011, every roguelike lover knows The Binding Of Isaac. Originally developed at a game jam as a roguelike in the style of The Legend of Zelda with biblical inspiration, The Binding Of Isaac is a top-down dungeon crawling game similar to the original Legend of Zelda where the player controls Isaac as he navigates various dungeons inside his basement.
This hugely fun style, the tongue-in-cheek references to religion, and the incredibly fun gameplay make The Binding Of Isaac a great game that requires multiple playthroughs and can be explored gently without inserting a lot of brainpower into the process, although it is one of the few roguelikes to get a mature rating.1 Rogue Legacy 2
Having just finally released the PlayStation version of the game, Rogue Legacy 2 is now available on all major platforms and even more players can experience the roguelike/Metroidvania style of this amazingly amusing indie game. Players control a knight exploring procedurally generated dungeons and defeating enemies in order to collect treasure along the way.
Equipped with class options for the character, perma-death but with gold that can be spent on upgrades that stay in spite of death and Heirlooms that can be found around the map that also give permanent ability upgrades, Rogue Legacy 2 is ingenious. The roguelike style makes it easy to turn off the brain and simply try to find some more upgrades as opposed to trying for a serious run every time the game is fired up.