You catch the flicker of lamplight around the corner ahead. Hesitantly, you pull out your dagger and walk slowly 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.

10 Best Roguelike Games of 2019

We’ve curated the following list of roguelike games to help your find your next favorite title.

1. Binding of Isaac

Binding of Isaac

Our pick for one of the best Steam roguelike games

  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Genre: Roguelike
  • Developer: Edmund McMillen
  • Release: 2011

The Binding of Isaac was released in 2011 to widespread critical acclaim, largely thanks to its history-inspired storyline and groundbreaking roguelike 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.

2. Dungeons of Dredmor

dredmor

Our pick for one of the best Linux roguelike games

  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Genre: Roguelike
  • Developer: Gaslamp Games
  • Release: 2011

It’s been a long journey, but your quest is nearly over. All that’s left is to 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.

3. Desktop Dungeons

desktop dungeons

Our pick for one of the best roguelike Android games

  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
  • Genre: RPG / Puzzle / Roguelike
  • Developer: QCF Design
  • Release: 2013

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.

4. Enter the Gungeon

gungeon

Our pick for one of the best Xbox roguelike games

  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Genre: Bullet Hell Roguelike
  • Developer: Dodge Roll
  • Release: 2016

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 lets you kill 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 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.

5. Dead Cells

dead cells

Our pick for one of the best Mac roguelike games

  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Genre: Roguelike Metroidvania
  • Developer: Motion Twin
  • Release: 2017

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.

6. Brogue

Brogue

Our pick for one of the best indie roguelike games

  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Genre: Roguelike
  • Developer: Brian Walker
  • Release: 2009

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.

7. Crypt of the NecroDancer

necrodancer

Our pick for one of the best Switch roguelike games

  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Vita, iOS
  • Genre: Roguelike
  • Developer: Brace Yourself Games
  • Release: 2015

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.

8. Wizard of Legend

wizard of legend

Our pick for one of the best PS4 roguelike games

  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Genre: Roguelike
  • Developer: Contingent 99
  • Release: 2018

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.

9. Darkest Dungeon

darkest dungeon

Our pick for one of the best roguelike iOS games

  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Vita, iOS
  • Genre: Turn-based / RPG / Roguelike
  • Developer: Red Hook Studios
  • Release: 2016

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.

The 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!

10. Spelunky

spelunky

Our pick for one of the best multiplayer roguelike games

  • Platform: Windows, PS4, Vita
  • Genre: Platform Roguelike
  • Developer: Derek Yu
  • Release: 2008

If you’re a fan of humorous single player 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. Moreover, it’s one of the best roguelike online games for co-op play.

What is a Roguelike Game?

A roguelike game is type of role-playing game that focuses on 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 is placed on the gameplay itself.

The term was coined in the early 1990’s, though roguelike games existed well before this. The unifying theme among roguelike games of that time was that gameplay 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.

About roguelikes

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 modelled 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. Roguelike-like games use many of the same mechanics.

One offshoot of the roguelike genre is roguelike-like games which feature many of the same mechanics but don’t abide by many of the staple guidelines.

Further Reading

Enjoy our list of best roguelike games? You’re sure to love our other roundups: