Hola, NPCs! Don’t mind the leering, icy stare of death, my friends. That’s just because today we plan to talk of Roguelike games! Roguelikes are a more unusual and specific genre than, say, your commonplace platformers, shooters, and RPGs. These are characterized by high levels of difficulty (foremost), as well as dungeon crawling, randomly generated levels, collectibles, and permadeath. Each playthrough in a roguelike is always different and the games tend to be short but you’ll be dying a lot so it hardly matters. Early roguelikes took their subgenre’s name from the game Rogue, since they were like it. That’s kind of funny, ain’t it? That’d be like if we called subsequent influenced games Mariolike, Zeldalike, Call of Dutylike. At least there’s some specificity in that bit of silliness.
Here’s us struggling to talk about roguelikes.
The Green Screen Mage
I love me some Dungeons & Dragons any day, but these kinds of video games are just not for me. I get way too frustrated.
The Black Humor Mage
I have no idea what these are. I’ve heard of Spelunky though, so try that one out. Tell ‘em, Black Humor Mage sent ya.
The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)
Don’t Starve. This game is brutal at first, but you do get better. It is so much fun to get better and better at keeping your character surviving and thriving in this harsh environment with the styles of some type of Tim Burton animation in cartoon form. I really think it embraces the heart of what makes the Roguelike genre so fun to play while also being frustratingly hard at times. (Honorable Mentions – Eldritch, Spelunky, Diablo)
The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)
Binding of Isaac, because I didn’t have enough mommy issues before. Seriously though, every run feels truly unique, and the action is fast and challenging. Not to mention dark as hell.
The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)
I’ve never played a roguelike. Another genre to add to the list of ‘games I have to catch up on!
The Brave Blue Mage (924COLLECTIVE)
This was a hard choice, but a quick trip to Wikipedia listed Vagrant Story on its Roguelike Page, & Wikipedia always has the final word, right? Based in the Kingdom of Ivalice (of FF Tactics Fame) Vagrant Story has an extremely memorable art style, weapons creation system & combos. Playing as a Riskbreaker in this eerie gothic style adventure is a definite highlight.
The Dapper Zaffre Mage (Save File 02)
I didn’t get to play a lot of traditional Rougelike, but I -did- get into Spelunky quite a bit. It’s one of those games best played in turns with a group, and probably the most fun when everything is going seriously wrong and somebody’s death is imminent. And I’ll admit, I was far from the most ‘careful’ of players in Spelunky and probably offed myself more often than every other hazard in the game combined. Fun!
The Over-Caffeinated Nostalgia Mage (Nostalgia Trigger)
Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon (2015). I played my first rogue-like very recently. To be honest, I was never a fan of the genre and avoid the label like the plague. However, during an Amazon sale combined with a bit of a backlog drought (imagine that!) I picked up Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon. 35 hours later and I had finally completed it, and what a great time I had. I had no idea I could enjoy a story that much, especially in a game that I assumed would be focused around randomly generated elements. That couldn’t be further from the truth!
I had recently gotten back into Pokémon after over fifteen years of a break, and I was eager to carry on with the franchise after Pokémon X and Y. Where Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon really helped me was by putting personalities to the new Pokémon that had sprung up in the Pokédex while I was on my hiatus. It really made my Pokémon Sun and Moon playthrough at the end of that year that much more enjoyable, as so many of these Pokémon were “humanized” in the Super Mystery Dungeon game.
I recommend it to any fans of the mystery dungeon genre, and of course fans of anything Pokémon!
The Rage Mage
When I’m feelin’ down, I just go to my happy place to cheer up: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth.
The Well-Red Mage
It sounds like I’m in the camp of most of the other mages here. I missed out on the early, traditional roguelikes and got into the genre only in the past few years. What I encountered were some really tough games evocative of the arcade era, so I’ve never met a roguelike I didn’t like. Not yet!
Of the few that I’ve played, I really enjoyed Downwell, Rogue Legacy and GoNNER (I didn’t realize Vagrant Story might be considered roguelike, and I liked that game). Of these, Downwell comes out as the clear winner. Downwell is a delightful downward shooter/platformer with only four areas but it is of course as cornea-scrapingly difficult as this subgenre is renown for being. It also doubles as an indie game! You should play it and lose!
And there you have it: roguelikes! That wasn’t so hard, was it? Have you played any roguelike games before? It seems like this is much more of an obscure classification for most people. I’m sure tomorrow’s Challenge will be much easier, as if you could just reach out and hold it in your hands!
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