Updated: February 17, 2022 1:29:55 pm
Roguelikes have become a blooming genre in the past few years, with hundreds of indie developers coming up with innovative dungeon crawling experiences. These games are intense from start to finish as you battle mobs through ever-changing levels, collect endless loot on your path, and are granted permanent death at the hands of a boss. The addictive gameplay makes each run feel fresh, regardless of how many times you’ve been shoved back to the start.
The best roguelikes retain their popularity years after their release. So, you should see a healthy mix of classic and new titles on this list for you to mash away those buttons.
Being a top award contender in 2020, Supergiant’s fast-paced masterpiece has rightfully earned its place on this list. In Hades, you take control of Zagreus, a successor to the death god and take part in successive hack-and-slash battles against the Olympians to escape the hellish Underworld.
As you pass through each level, you collect boons that grant you special skills and power-ups to help defy your father and his subjects. It is filled to the brim with deep mythological lore and references, as you build romantic relationships and alliances with other Greek deities. If you own a handheld system (Nintendo Switch/Steam Deck), this is a must-play! Hades is available on the Nintendo Switch and Windows PC.
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Lovecraftian themes are in full force here as you explore dungeons beneath a gothic mansion. Players are tasked with training and leading a team of flawed soldiers through twisted forests and ruined crypts, as they fight unimaginable foes in turn-based combat and collect treasures.
However, it’s not just the physical fights that strain your team, but also afflictions such as fear, stress, famine, and disease – hampering their performance as an explorer/survivor. By delivering inspiring speeches and planning out regular breaks, you need to keep their health in check, making sure they don’t give in to the all-consuming darkness. The Darkest Dungeon is available on the Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC, and iOS.
The Binding of Isaac
If you’re wondering where the ‘BibleThump’ emote on Twitch is from, look no further. Based on the biblical tale of Isaac, whose mother tries sacrificing him to God as proof of faith, players are tasked with keeping him alive. Escaping into the basement, a crying Isaac is faced with droves of deranged enemies, lost brothers and sisters, and psychological demons.
All levels are randomly generated, with unique loot that grants special perks against enemies, adding to that high replay value of over 500 hours of gameplay. There’s a two-player co-op feature as well, though roguelikes are most enjoyed when played alone on a rainy day. The Binding of Isaac is available on the Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC.
If you ever wanted to play a pixelated, slightly remixed rendition of Dark Souls, Dead Cells is the way to go. You play as a prisoner awakening in the depths of an island and trying to make out of there by fighting demons and a total of 10 ‘Keepers’ (bosses). On your path, you acquire skins, weapons, and power-ups, some of which permanently increase your stats for when you restart a run after a death.
It’s definitely not a walk in the park, and the 2D side-scrolling format makes you feel claustrophobic as enemies shower down their attack from afar. It also features heavy Twitch integration, letting chatters vote and choose specific upgrades or routes for the streamer. Dead Cells is available on the Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC, Android, and iOS.
Enter the Gungeon
While every other title on this list relies heavily on melee combat, Enter the Gungeon steps it up by handing you guns that shoot out vibrant missiles, lasers, and cannonballs. The plot revolves around four adventurers as they descend down a dungeon in hopes of finding a past-erasing gun. Players can pick one of these heroes, all of whom have lone perks such as lockpicking and tragic backstories they intend to erase.
In classic roguelike fashion, you slay foes, collect loot, and manoeuvre your way through meticulously designed traps. The ammunition is limited as well, adding to that sense of tension when facing off against high-speed bosses that can easily dodge past them. Enter the Gungeon is available on the Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC.
Risk of Rain 2
No, you don’t have to play the first game to enjoy this. Risk of Rain 2 throws you onto an alien planet to navigate through various environments, kill monsters and loot chests to boost offensive and defensive capabilities. This is quite possibly, the only roguelike that justifies the co-op feature, letting you team up in groups of four and hunt down bosses that drop currency, enabling you to purchase chests that offer random items.
Every few minutes, the enemy strength, difficulty, and numbers increase, making it harder to stay on any level – urging you to finish the deal quickly. Every bit of content from the first game is included here and has been changed to 3D models. Risk of Rain 2 is available on the Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC.
For a genre that is primarily loaded with indies, it is great to see AAA studios try and use their resources to provide something grand. Housemarque’s Returnal puts players in the shoes of space pilot Selene, who is stuck in a death loop, waking up on a new hostile planet each time.
In order to keep her sanity, players must fight hordes of aliens using advanced, upgradeable weaponry and uncover the secrets behind the dreadful puzzle. The combat feels like a generic third-person shooter, though it’s the psychological horror-based story and the addictive roguelike elements that prevent it from fizzling out. Returnal is available exclusively on the Playstation 5.
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