If you’re at all interested in video games, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of roguelike games. But what are they? And why are they so popular?
In this post, we’ll take a look at the definition of roguelike games, and explore some of the reasons why people love them so much, including me! Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
What is a Roguelike Game?
Roguelike games are a subgenre of role-playing video games characterized by procedurally generated levels, turn-based gameplay, and permanent death.
Roguelike games are typically dungeon crawlers, in which the player controls a single character who must navigate a series of rooms or corridors, defeating enemies and collecting items along the way.
The most famous example of a roguelike game is Rogue (hence the origin of the name), which was an ASCII-based game that ran in the terminal released in 1980.
Since then, roguelike games have become increasingly popular, with new titles being released every year. Although they share many common features, roguelike games can vary greatly in terms of setting, theme, and gameplay mechanics.
As a result, there is something for everyone within the genre. Whether you’re looking for a challenging dungeon-crawling experience or a more lighthearted adventure, you’re sure to find a roguelike game that suits your taste.
Roguelike games have since been adapted into many different genres, including science fiction, horror, and even comedy. One of the most popular roguelike games of recent years is “The Binding of Isaac“, which features randomized dungeons and a unique art style. Roguelike games are often praised for their replayability and originality, making them a favorite among gamers who are looking for something more than the typical video game experience.
What Makes a Game a Roguelike?
There are many factors that contribute to what makes a game a roguelike. These games are typically characterized by the following features:
Procedurally Generated Levels
Procedurally generated levels means that the layout of the levels is random, making each playthrough unique.
Permanent death means when you die in a roguelike game, you have to start all over from the beginning. There are no save points or continues.
Roguelike games are usually turn-based, meaning that each player takes turns making their moves. This allows for a more strategic gameplay experience.
These are just some of the defining characteristics of roguelike.
Why are Roguelike Games Popular?
Now that we’ve answered the question “What is a roguelike game?”, it’s time to take a look at why they are so popular. There are a number of reasons why people love roguelike games, but here are just a few:
They’re challenging. Roguelike games are known for their difficulty, which can be a welcome change of pace for gamers who are used to more forgiving games. The challenge they offer is one of the main reasons why people keep coming back to them.
They’re replayable. Because roguelike games are procedurally generated, they offer a different experience every time you play them. This high degree of replayability is one of the main reasons why they are so popular.
They’re original. In an industry that is often criticized for being creative, roguelike games stand out for their originality. Whether it’s the setting, the gameplay mechanics, or the art style, there is always something new to discover in a roguelike game.
Why Are Roguelike Games Called Roguelike?
I briefly touched on this earlier, but the term “roguelike” is derived from the 1980 game Rogue. Rogue was a text-based dungeon crawler that featured procedurally generated levels and turn-based gameplay. It was one of the first games in the genre, and it influenced a generation of developers.
Today, the term “roguelike” is used to describe any game that shares similar features to Rogue. This can include games that are procedurally generated, turn-based, or have permanent death. Roguelike games have come a long way since the days of Rogue, but they still retain the core elements that made the original so special.
Types of Roguelike Games
As I mentioned earlier, roguelike games come in all shapes and sizes. There is a huge variety within the genre, which is one of the things that makes it so special. Here are just a few of the different types of roguelike games you might encounter:
Dungeon Crawlers. These are the most common type of roguelike games, and they typically involve exploring procedurally generated dungeons in search of treasure. Games like “Rogue Legacy” fall into this category.
This is a relatively new subgenre that combines elements of roguelikes and Metroidvanias. These games are known for their non-linear level design and replayability. “Dead Cells” is a popular example of a roguelite game. We’ll touch on this more later.
Roguelike card games are a relatively new subgenre that combines the gameplay of collectible card games with the procedurally generated dungeons of roguelikes. “Slay the Spire” is one of the most popular roguelike card games.
This is a subgenre of roguelikes that combines turn-based strategy gameplay with procedurally generated levels.
As you can see, there is a lot of variety within the roguelike genre. Whether you’re looking for a challenging dungeon crawler or a more relaxed card game, there’s sure to be a roguelike that’s right for you.
Roguelite vs. Roguelike
As I mentioned earlier, roguelite is a relatively new subgenre of roguelike games. These games are known for their non-linear level design and replayability. “Dead Cells” is a popular example of a roguelite game.
So, what’s the difference between a roguelite and a roguelike? The main difference is that roguelite games have the same mechanics with roguelike games but they often have shorter gameplay runs with conditions that favor victory.
This means that you can continue playing after you die, and your progress is saved to a certain extent. In contrast, traditional roguelike games typically have permanent death, which means you have to start from the beginning if you die.
For example with the game Hades, it introduces mechanics of replayability but it has shorter gameplay runs that favor victory and there is permanent progression to a certain extent with the player being able to keep experience points and weapons as a reward moving forward with each dungeon replay.
Roguelite games are becoming increasingly popular, and many developers are beginning to experiment with the formula. If you’re looking for a roguelike game with a more forgiving death mechanic, then a roguelite might be right for you.
How to Get Started with Roguelike Games
If you’re interested in trying out a roguelike game, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, it’s important to understand that these games can be very challenging. If you’re not used to playing tough games, it might be a good idea to start with something a little easier. Second, roguelike games are often very replayable, so it’s important to choose one that you’ll be able to keep coming back to.
Finally, it’s helpful to understand the different types of roguelike games before you dive in. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of variety within the genre, and it’s important to choose a game that’s right for you.
Best Roguelike Game Examples
Now that we’ve gone over some of the basics, let’s take a look at some of the best roguelike games out there. These are just a few of the many great games the genre has to offer:
- “The Binding of Isaac” is a popular dungeon crawler with procedurally generated levels and permanent death.
- “Hades” is a roguelike game that combines the gameplay of a dungeon crawler with the story of Greek mythology.
- “Risk of Rain 2” is a roguelike third-person shooter
- “Spelunky” is a roguelite platformer with procedurally generated levels and permadeath.
- “FTL: Faster Than Light” is a turn-based strategy roguelike with procedurally generated levels and permanent death.
- “Slay the Spire” is a card game roguelike with procedurally generated levels and permanent death.
- “Rogue Legacy” is a dungeon crawler with procedurally generated levels and permadeath.
These are just a few of the many great roguelike games out there. If you’re looking for a challenge, I highly recommend checking out one of these games.
Is Diablo a Roguelike?
One of the most common questions I get asked is whether or not “Diablo” is a roguelike game. The answer is complicated, but I’ll do my best to explain it.
“Diablo” is a dungeon crawler that was released in 1996. The series features procedurally generated levels and a high degree of difficulty depending on the level. However, it also has a few key features that are not typically found in roguelike games. First, it has a persistent world. This means that your progress is saved between playthroughs, and you can replay the game with all of the same characters and items. Second, it has a linear story. This is in contrast to roguelike games, which are typically focused on procedural generation and replayability.
So, is “Diablo” a roguelike game? It’s tough to say. It has some features that are common to the genre, but it also deviates from the norm in a few key ways. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you consider it a roguelike.
Is Minecraft a Roguelike?
Another common question I get asked is whether or not “Minecraft” is a roguelike game. Like “Diablo,” the answer to this question is complicated.
“Minecraft” is a sandbox game that was released in 2009. The game has procedurally generated worlds and a high degree of player freedom. However, it also lacks some of the key features that are typically found in roguelike games. First, it does not have permanent death. This means that you can always respawn and continue playing after you die. Second, it lacks procedurally generated content. While the world is procedurally generated, the items and enemies within it are not.
So, is “Minecraft” a roguelike game? Once again, it’s tough to say. It has some features that are common to the genre, but it also deviates from the norm in a few key ways. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you consider it a roguelike.
Is Dark Souls a Roguelike?
Is “Dark Souls” is a roguelike game? And, like the previous two games, the answer to this question is complicated.
“Dark Souls” is an action-RPG that was released in 2011. The game features procedurally generated levels and permanent death. However, it also has a few key features that are not typically found in roguelike games. First, it has a linear story. This is in contrast to roguelike games, which are typically focused on procedural generation and replayability. Second, it does not have procedurally generated content. While the world is procedurally generated, the items and enemies within it are not.
Is Elden Ring a Roguelike?
Similar to Dark Souls, most soulslike games are considered action role-playing games and not necessarily roguelikes because the story is linear for the most part.
What is the Future of Roguelike Games?
Roguelike games have been around for decades, but they’ve only started to gain mainstream popularity in recent years. With the release of hit games like “Hades” and “Slay the Spire” more and more people are taking notice of the genre.
So, what is the future of roguelike games? It’s hard to say for sure, but I think we can expect to see more Roguelike games that deviate from the traditional formula. We’re already starting to see this trend with games like “Hades,” which combines the roguelike genre with Greek mythology. I think we can expect to see more games like this in the future, as developers experiment with new and interesting ways to create Roguelike games.
Only time will tell what the future of Roguelike games holds, but one thing is for sure: they’re here to stay. Thanks for reading!
What Makes a Game a Roguelite?
Roguelite games are similar to roguelike games, but they often have shorter gameplay runs with conditions that favor victory. This means that you can continue playing after you die, and your progress is saved to a certain extent.
Is Hades a Roguelike of Roguelite?
Hades is considered by many a Roguelite because of the permanent progression to a certain extent and shorter gameplay runs that favor victory.
Nate Torres is the founder of bbGaming. He has been playing games for 20+years now. He is mostly a casual gamer and enjoys most FPS games, Battle Royales, and MOBAs. Outside of gaming, he also enjoys learning about streetwear, photography, and music.