OMG SO MUCH DEATH – My Roguelike Obsession

One thing I’ve been really surprised about over the past few years is an ongoing obsession with roguelikes. It’s not that I can’t deal with difficult games. They’re plenty fun if the gameplay is good. But roguelikes have a problem that bugs me…they usually don’t have the high production values I enjoy and they have no real story. The story bugs me more than anything since I’ve been playing games long enough to still appreciate fun games with weak visuals. But a good story is something I really do crave and even hot games like Darkest Dungeon don’t provide what I crave.


Nonetheless, I’ve spent countless hours on games like Dungeons of Dredmor, Binding of Isaac, FTL, Desktop Dungeons, One Way Heroics, the aforementioned Darkest Dungeon, and many others. If I ever get bored of one I just go onto the other. Then I cycle back through eventually. There’s something about these games that are better enjoyed played less obsessively to keep the content fresh and exciting. There’s probably 20 roguelikes installed on my Steam account now, and I imagine that number will only grow.


What makes all of these games good? There’s some nice randomness and most deaths feel pretty fair. I’ve played a few roguelikes where you die and don’t understand why. I understand getting some bad luck occasionally, but I get really frustrated when I can’t counter that bad luck. Binding of Isaac (+Rebith) makes me feel really great when I play well, though the pills thing bothered me early on not knowing what they did. I think information should always be presented properly to players in a roguelike for maximum fun. All the cards in the deck are stacked against you as is so why add random items? I know Nethack and the like did that with scrolls, but it’s not really fun to me.


nethack screenshot

Nethack: the start of my rogue obsession


FTL has the most hours on it with 112 on my Steam account. I’m not even close to finishing all the content and options, but I’ve had a lot of enjoyment. Pause + real time action makes me feels oodles of goodness. Baldur’s Gate still lives strong within me! Managing the crew against enemy threats and deciding to help, run away, or attack other ships makes for interesting decisions. I don’t always make the right decision, but at least FTL does a great job of rewarding me when I do.


One Way Heroics is another game that I feel plays pretty fairly. There are some nasty surprises but less so than some other games. I think the game has been a little overlooked though because it looks like a generic JRPG. It’s really a shame because it’s as good as any of the other games I mentioned earlier. The classes offer a lot of replay the showdown with the big boss bad guy is also climatic. I think I might go play some now in fact…


What roguelikes do you all enjoy? I’ve probably played it, but I’m always hopeful to find something new to add to the mix!

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