Roguelike is a sub-genre of the RPG genre and focuses on games like dungeon crawlers, turn or grid-based gameplay/movements, and procedurally generated levels. Roguelike games are hard and are not for everybody as once you die in these games, most of the time the game resets. It focuses on replaying the game again and again and finding the best possible routes to complete the levels. Roguelikes encourage you to complete the games in one sitting and can get insurmountably difficult. Here we have a list of some of the best Roguelike games out there that you can play right now.
Best Roguelike Games to Play in 2021
Check out our best picks!
Dead Cells is a perfect amalgamation of what a Roguelike is and can be. Part Roguelike and part Metroidvania. This game offers 13 levels that combine super-fast action, crazy boss battles, and unique ways to scale difficulty, all packed in a singular package that has no second. If you are a fan of the Roguelike genre then Dead Cells is one heck of a game to get into. A 2D platformer with unique mechanics and custom unlockable pathways with crazy platforming skills and infinite replayability. Not to mention an arsenal of 90 different weapons and incredible abilities and passives to play with. Sign me up!
Hades is, I don’t even know what to say! It’s a pinnacle in every sense of the word. This game came out of nowhere and takes place in the Greek underworld where you play as Zagreus, Hades’s son. It has a colorful and very well voice-acted cast and the gameplay loop is just solid. Gems add permanent bonuses for every run, each basic weapon can be transformed and brings with it a unique playstyle, and navigation and combat always feel good, organic, and entertaining. Hades is a complete package of a game when it comes to Roguelikes and has set the bar way up in the clouds for this genre.
Returnal is perhaps the newest one on this list. This PS5 exclusive Roguelike brings the joy, difficulty, and exploration that Roguelikes are known for in a package that comes with insane visuals and very good story-telling. Returnal takes full advantage of the hardware and makes use of the haptic feedback, present in the Dualsense controller, and delivers the action straight to you. It launched a bit buggy but those bugs have now been taken care of. Returnal is difficult, fun and looks incredible, and has earned its name in the hall of Roguelikes.
The Binding of Issac
The Binding of Issac is a genre-defining masterpiece when it comes to Roguelikes. Set in downright horrid procedurally generated dungeons which are traversed by a deformed child, this game features twin-stick shooter-like gameplay with a multitude of passive and active abilities available. To describe The Binding of Issac in a paragraph will be to grossly oversimplify its hellish gameplay loop and yes, the game is very gross at times. It’s brutal in difficulty and has a lot of bullet hell-like sequences and is very rewarding and pushes you to go for that “one more loop”. Definitely check this one out.
Spelunky 1 & 2
Emergent gameplay is what comes to mind when I think of Spelunky. As the name would suggest, it takes place in procedurally generated caves where you find your way across, solving puzzles, looking for treasure, and battling(or skipping) powerful cave creatures. Spelunky 2 came 12 years later after the first and improved upon every single facet of the first game with better exploration, more thought-provoking puzzles, and more biomes for you to explore. It’s hard to imagine the Roguelike genre being where it is today, without the contributions and efforts made by Spelunky.
Enter the Gungeon
Pixel art, top-down, bullet hell. These three words aptly describe Enter the Gungeon. The plot takes you across crazy rooms and boss battles, each more difficult than the last so you can find a gun that can erase your past. Yes, the plot of this game revolves around finding a gun that wipes away your biggest regret! If that sounds crazy then wait till you start playing this. The game features an assortment of guns that can be incomprehensible to make note of, each shifting and changing the way you tread rooms. Its biggest strength lies in the variety it offers and though it may be difficult, and oftentimes brutal even. Enter the Gungeon is the kind of game where every run truly feels different.
Risk of Rain 2
While the first game was a 2D platformer Roguelike, the developers of Risk of Rain 2 went overboard and made the game a 3D, exploration-based game. The intensity from the first game is still here and because of the added dimension is truly amplified. Equipment you find is random and you need to invest in it to make it the best it possibly can be. There are 10 different playable characters, 9 of which need to be unlocked and the game can be played solo or with up to 3 friends. With 12 different locations to explore and an assortment of monsters and creatures trying to hunt you down, the stakes in this game are high. And since you can play this with your friends, the terrifying, blood-curdling moments scream moments are all the more insane.
It’s dark and gritty and offers some of the most hardcore gameplay for this already hardcore genre. You spend most of your time and resources building an alliance of brothers to traverse through the hellish landscape just to quickly lose them to challenging enemies. The game also features an insanity mechanic which means your mental health plays a big part in your progression and success rate. Darkest Dungeon has a minimal art style and a limited number of assets to display but the tactical, strategic combat combined with the tale this game is trying to tell takes all the spotlight. It is one of the very best Roguelikes for you to play.
The Roguelike genre loves to innovate and with each new entry, brings a lot to the table. These have been some of the best Roguelikes available to play right now. While the list doesn’t cover all of them, these sure should keep you busy for the long run. We can’t wait to see what crazy new ideas and innovations developers come with in the future for this genre, until then why not check out other lists here at GamerTweak?