You catch the flicker of lamplight around the corner ahead. Hesitantly, you pull out your dagger and creep towards it, careful not to make a sound. You flatten yourself against the wall and poke your head around the corner, just far enough to catch a glimpse of what’s in front of you. Your eyes lock with a mysterious robed figure, and he swiftly launches a fireball in your direction! You’re playing one of the best roguelike games available, the stakes are high, and it’s your move.
The best roguelike games are known for their exciting exploration and hack-and-slash mechanics. They provide endless entertainment with new twists and turns every playthrough thanks to procedurally-generated maps and random encounters. This unique challenge is offset by more playful RPG elements like special abilities and powerful treasure. The result? An exciting genre that has spawned some of the best games on the market.
This article guides you through the best roguelike games for every platform and gives you the inside scoop on roguelike mechanics. If you’re ready to rumble, let’s get started.
15 Best Roguelike Games of 2021
We’ve curated the following list of roguelike and roguelite games for serious dungeon crawling enthusiasts. We hope you to help you find your next favorite title.
One of the best adventure roguelike games
Genre: Roguelike / Action Adventure | Platforms: PC | Developer: Nolla Games | Release: 2020 | Website: www.noitagame.com
Noita is the French word for witch, a rather fitting term to describe this enchanting roguelite game.
What’s so special about this roguelite? Believe it or not, every single pixel is physically simulated. In other words, you can alter and destroy the entire game world, no holds barred! Journey through the enchanting atmosphere as a spellcasting witch, blasting through terrain, fighting enemies like Hiisi and Iku-Turso, and causing general mayhem!
But be warned. The procedurally-generated world can be a nightmare to navigate, and once you die, it’s game over for good. If you think you’re up for the challenge, you can find Noita on Steam today!
14. Wizard of Legend
One of the best fantasy roguelike games
Genre: Roguelike | Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Console | Developer: Contingent 99 | Release: 2018 | Website: www.wizardoflegend.com
Take control of a battle-hardened wizard and complete the Chaos Trials, a 10-level procedurally generated dungeon that will test you at every turn. You’ll have to rely on your entire library of spells to attack, defend, and navigate your way through the challenges. Collect money and treasure along the way to unlock new spells and items to boost your strength and increase your endurance.
Think you can handle it? Defeat the four elemental bosses and become the Wizard of Legend. The game is available for PC and major consoles, and it’s received great ratings from critics and players alike.
One of the best multiplayer roguelike games
Genre: Roguelike / Platform | Platform: Windows, PS4 | Developer: Derek Yu | Release: 2008 | Website: www.spelunkyworld.com
If you’re a fan of humorous co-op roguelike games, Spelunky is one of the best titles around. Players take control of the spelunker, a cave explorer who enjoys collecting treasure, taking down enemies, and saving damsels in distress. Use your prowess to dive deeper and deeper, avoiding traps and discovering ancient archeological artifacts. There are numerous items and abilities to be found or purchased, and the procedurally generated dungeons provide hours of entertainment. It’s an exciting casual game that’s great to play alone or with friends.
12. Slay the Spire
One of the best hybrid roguelike games
Genre: Roguelike / Deck-Building | Platforms: PC, macOS, Linux, Console, Mobile | Developer: MegaCrit | Release: 2019 | Website: www.megacrit.com
You may be surprised to see Slay the Spire on a list of best roguelike games, as it’s more often associated with the online CCG genre. But no, it’s not a mistake — conceptually, Slay the Spire is a CCG and roguelike hybrid that packs all the fun from both genres!
In Slay the Spire, you play as an adventurer tasked with climbing up a seemingly endless tower and wiping out all the enemies on every floor. Sound tough? That’s because it is. Each floor of the spire features a procedurally-generated layout with challenging enemies scattered throughout. Use your cards (combined with your mad skills) to defeat these enemies, and you’ll continue the climb! Lose, and it’s back to square one.
You can find Slay the Spire on every computer OS, every eighth-gen console, and all the major mobile platforms.
One of the best roguelite games
Genre: Roguelike / Action RPG | Platforms: PC, macOS, Linux, Console, iOS | Developer: Digital Sun | Release: 2018 | Website: www.moonlighterthegame.com
Moonlighter is a stylish roguelite RPG where you play as Will, the merchant hero. With the passing of Will’s parents, he inherits his family’s shop, the Moonlighter, and obtains the freedom to follow his dreams of becoming a hero. The game revolves around exploration of five ancient dungeons. You fight monsters, find treasure, avoid traps, and try to make it back to your shop with any loot you can.
Anything you find in the dungeon, broken weapons, monster drops, ancient tomes, will be worth something to someone back in the Moonlighter. In the daytime, you can open your shop and start learning about the economy. The goal is to maximize your gold without angering your patrons with outrageous prices.
By night the dungeon’s monsters will be more dangerous, but not without bigger rewards. The game has five different styles of weapon and three classes of armor, each with different branching enchantments for your customization. Should you reach the end of a dungeon, you will come face to face with an ancient creature and an epic challenge.
Ready to moonlight? You can find Moonlight on Steam and Humble Bundle!
One of the best indie roguelike games
Genre: Roguelike | Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux | Developer: Brian Walker | Release: 2009 | www.sites.google.com/site/broguegame
Brogue is a free indie roguelike that’s been in development since 2009. It features tried-and-true ASCII art as well as challenging MUD mechanics that will entertain seasoned veterans and novices alike. The goal? Enter the Dungeons of Doom to collect the Amulet of Yandor, a sacred treasure with immense power. But be wary! The dungeon is procedurally generated with no maps or guides to follow, and monsters lurk in the shadows waiting for you to make one mistake. If you enjoy classic roguelikes with challenging mechanics, Brogue is one of the best indie options available.
9. Dungeons of Dredmor
One of the best roguelike games on Steam
Genre: Roguelike | Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux | Developer: Gaslamp Games | Release: 2011 | Website: www.dungeonsofdredmor.com
It’s been a long journey, but your quest is nearly over. All there’s left to do is dispatch of Lord Dredmor and free the realm from his gruesome grip. You’ve trained your whole life for this — how hard can it be?
Dungeons of Dredmor is one of the most challenging roguelikes on the market. Players must enter the dungeon and descend into its depths, overcoming countless obstacles along the way. Halls filled with monsters, traps, and other nasty surprises are commonplace, and only the strongest will survive. Do you have what it takes to make it to the final chamber and destroy Lord Dredmor once and for all? You can check out Dungeons of Dredmor on Steam today.
8. Dead Cells
One of the best roguelike games on PC
Genre: Roguelike / Metroidvania | Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Console | Developer: Motion Twin | Release: 2017 | Website: www.dead-cells.com
Dead Cells puts a unique spin on the roguelike genre with its sci-fi storyline and fiendish mechanics. What makes it so special? Well, players assume control of a slime-like creature that has the power to control corpses. The goal is to fight your way out of the dungeon, but it won’t come easy — danger lurks around every corner. In order to survive, players must collect cells, the in-game currency, to unlock upgrades and purchase new items. With enough courage and a little luck, you may just make it out alive.
7. Crypt of the NecroDancer
One of the best roguelike games on iOS
Genre: Roguelike | Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Console, Mobile | Developer: Brace Yourself Games | Release: 2015 | Website: www.necrodancer.com
Crypt of the NecroDancer is in a class all its own with mechanics that’ll rock your world. The premise? Players assume control of Cadence, the daughter of a famous treasure hunter who recently turned up missing. Intent on finding her father, Cadence makes her way into a large underground dungeon controlled by the NecroDancer. But once inside, the NecroDancer steals Cadence’s heart! The only way to keep the blood pumping is to traverse the dungeon while moving to the rhythm of the beat. Align your actions with the rhythm in order to successfully navigate the dungeon and destroy the NecroDancer once and for all.
6. Desktop Dungeons
One of the best roguelike games on Android
Desktop Dungeons is the epitome of the roguelike dungeon crawler genre. Players assume control of a champion whose task it is to wind their way through the dungeon and take on the final boss. Along the way, you’re sure to be confronted by challenging puzzles, various obstacles, and the occasional booby trap. Make it through alive and you’ll unlock new character classes, races, and items to aid you on your journey. Game sessions last from just a few minutes to nearly an hour, making it the perfect way to get your bite-sized roguelike fix!
5. Enter the Gungeon
One of the best roguelike games on PS4 & PS5
Genre: Roguelike / Bullet Hell | Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Console | Developer: Dodge Roll | Release: 2016 | Website: www.dodgeroll.com
Ever wish you could just leave the past behind? Enter the Gungeon takes this concept to new heights as you descend into the depths for a gun that kills your past.
Choose between one of four main characters, each with their own special abilities and mechanics. Once you’re ready, enter the Gungeon and make your way down through the maze of challenging encounters and (seemingly) insurmountable obstacles. Get lucky and you’ll find a slew of treasure to help you on your way. However — one wrong turn could mean death. Got what it takes? Enter the Gungeon is available on PCs and all major consoles.
4. Darkest Dungeon
One of the best roguelike games on Xbox One & Series X|S
Genre: Roguelike / RPG | Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Console, iOS | Developer: Red Hook Studios | Release: 2016 | Website: www.darkestdungeon.com
Something stirs in the dungeons beneath the manor. A portal to the dark dimensions has opened, and unspeakable horrors are escaping through the rift. Assemble a team of adventurers, and begin your quest to rid the catacombs of this evil and close the portal for good.
Darkest Dungeon is an epic roguelike that has the player manage a team of characters intent on cleansing the dungeon of evil. Each character has their own skills and abilities, and master tacticians can use complementary skill sets to wind through the endless maze of catacombs. But be wary! The adventurers can only withstand so much horror before the darkness drives them toward destruction. The game is available for PC, console, and mobile, making it one of the most accessible roguelikes on our list!
One of the best roguelike games on Switch
Genre: Roguelike / Action RPG | Platforms: PC, macOS, Switch | Developer: Supergiant Games | Release: 2020 | Website: www.supergiantgames.com/games/hades
Next on our list is Hades, arguably the best switch roguelike to hit Nintendo’s innovative console in the past 4 years.
Assume the role of Zagreus, son of Hades, as you navigate hell in an attempt to join the Gods on Mount Olympus. Throw everything you’ve got as your daring escape, hacking, slashing, and spellcasting your way through waves of demonic forces. But don’t expect it to be easy. Hades isn’t happy about your departure, and he’s throwing every resource at stopping you dead in your tracks. The good news? You’re already in hell, and your inevitable deaths don’t affect your progress!
Hades released to universal acclaim, even winning a number of Game of the Year awards! It’s an excellent tile with all the action-packed, hellish excitement you could ask for.
2. Risk of Rain 2
One of the best 3D roguelike games
Genre: Roguelike | Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia | Developer: Hopoo Games | Release: 2020 | Website: www.riskofrain.com
You’re stranded on an alien planet with hostile creatures lurking around every turn. Navigate the foreign environment, locate the teleporter, and then stand your ground. Lock ‘n load as you prepare yourself for wave after wave of alien scum, using your handy arsenal of weapons and skills to keep them at bay until the teleporter activates. Will you make it out alive, or will you fall to the final boss?
Risk of Rain 2 is a dynamic, action-packed roguelike with one exceptional feature — it’s 3D!
Most roguelikes (including every other game on this list) are 2-dimensional. It’s a tried and true formula that works well with the procedurally-generated nature of roguelike titles. That’s why it’s so shocking to see Risk of Rain 2, a 3D shooter, navigate the maze of exceptional titles on this list to become one of the best roguelikes of all time. Highly recommended!
1. Binding of Isaac
One of the best roguelike games overall
Genre: Roguelike | Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux | Developer: Edmund McMillen | Release: 2011 | Website: www.bindingofisaac.com
Binding of Isaac released in 2011 to widespread critical acclaim, largely thanks to its silly (yet mildly disturbing) storyline and groundbreaking roguelite mechanics.
The game begins when God sends Isaac’s mother a message demanding her son’s life. Isaac gets word of his mother’s intentions and flees to the basement of their home for safety — only to be confronted by a horde of bloodthirsty monsters!
The game begins as players assume control of Isaac. The goal? Fight your way to survival. The odds are stacked against you, and only the bravest will make it out alive… or will they?
What Is a Roguelike Game?
A roguelike game is a type of role-playing game that focuses on an exploration through procedurally-generated levels. Titles in this genre boast a number of unique features like simple hack-and-slash combat, labyrinthine map designs, and rewarding loot mechanics. Moreover, most roguelike games feature simple artwork and a large emphasis on gameplay rather than story.
The term was coined in the early 1990s, though roguelike games existed well before this. The unifying theme among roguelike games from the early era was gameplay that mimicked tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons and Adventure. Those roguelikes included similar mechanics like experience points, special abilities, and challenging maps that players were tasked with overcoming. The genre looks very similar today, but it’s also expanded to encompass a wider swath of games across many platforms.
There are several types of roguelike games on the market, including traditional fantasy titles, sci-fi and space roguelikes, and more. What they all share in common is an exciting style of play that speaks to and rewards the explorer inside. As for immersion? The best roguelike games feature epic storylines that keep you focused and always coming back for more.
General Thoughts on Roguelike Games
We’ve penned some general thoughts on roguelike games to take a deeper look at the nuances of the genre.
1. Roguelikes are a subgenre of RPGs.
Roguelike games are heavily modeled after traditional pen-and-paper role-playing games, and modern titles maintain similar mechanics.
2. Death takes a heavy toll.
A prominent feature among roguelike games is a permadeath system. While many games allow players to resurrect, death is meant to heavily impede progress.
3. Procedural generation keeps things fresh.
The best roguelike games rely on procedurally-generated maps. This means that the playing field is randomized to make every playthrough slightly different from the last.
4. They’re a completionist’s dream.
Roguelikes are known for their insane amount of unlockable rewards, including new items, special abilities, and even playable characters.
5. Roguelites use many of the same mechanics.
One offshoot of the roguelike genre (and still considered a roguelike, albeit loosely) is the roguelite genre, which features many of the same mechanics but doesn’t abide by many of the staple guidelines.
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