Thanks to its most recent entries into gaming, roguelites are on a serious roll, with games like Hades and Slay the Spire compelling players to repeatedly run through their tight, procedurally generated loops. Here are the best roguelite games you can dive into today.
What is a roguelite?
While the exact definitions are under some debate, the general gist is that roguelites break away from certain mechanics of the legendary ASCII game Rogue, such as turn-based combat and grid-based movement, while keeping the procedural generation, meta progression, and permadeath. As a result, Roguelites can be games from almost every genre: first-person shooters, platformers, card games, and even point-and-click adventures (here’s to you, Skyhill).
13. Skul: The Hero Slayer
Skul is an action roguelite that has players taking control of a lowly skeleton. After the good guys vanquished the demon lord you worked for, it’s time for revenge. On your journey, your little skeleton will discover the desperate lengths the ‘good guys’ went to just to win the war while discovering that being no-flesh-and-all-bone has its perks.
Besides its unique storytelling angle and gorgeous pixel art, Skul has a wonderful mechanic where the skulls you find transform you into different monsters with unique movesets which get crazier as you progress down the upgrade line. So expect to spend a fair bit of time running around as the grim reaper, an undead werewolf and, oddly enough, Ghost Rider.
Heart-wrenching storytelling, a soothing soundtrack, and a deeply rewarding combat system combine to create Afterburner Studios’ Dreamscaper.
Dreamscaper is a deep-dive into coping with depression and loss. Our protagonist, Cassidy, is forced to battle manifestations of her psychological turmoil every night. In order to do so, she calls on abilities inspired by happier memories to banish her nightmares.
In game, Dreamscaper emphasizes strict timing mechanics like parries and perfect strikes to keep combat engaging. Keepsakes give Cassidy a variety of buffs and abilities that add variability to each run.
Fans of anime will also be pleasantly surprised by the homages to classic series like Yu Yu Hakusho and Naruto that are peppered across the game. Believe me, there is something deeply satisfying about using a spirit gun to blast your nightmares away.
11. Inscryption: Kaycee’s Mod
If you’ve played the base game, then you know that Inscryption is a horror-themed deckbuilder. If you play this game enough, you’ll discover that the entire game is actually one big love letter to game development as a whole.
After creating the game, the team behind Inscryption created Kaycee’s mod – a standalone roguelite version of the game’s beginning. A run in Kaycee’s mod asks a simple question: how will you break the game? Unlike similar games, players are rewarded for smart decisions that create absurdly powerful cards rather than simply a strong deck. Runs will get more difficult but also unlock additional challenges and cards.
Since its official release, Kaycee’s mod has become a quality roguelite stapled to a fantastic game. There’s plenty to unlock in the game, and the later runs are a solid challenge to complete.
10. Wizard of Legend
If I had to sum up Wizard of Legend, it would be this: benders from Avatar: the Last Airbender find wacky relics and battle their way out of a murderous labyrinth.
Wizard of Legend sets the bar for what a good roguelite should let players do. Besides offering couch coop, the sheer amount of pre-run customizability allows players to enjoy the game however they please. If you have a favorite build, you can start each run with those spells and one relic. Each run also remains unique because players will be able to pick up randomized relics and spells during the run.
Platforms: PC, Xbox One/Xbox Series (TBA)
With movement similar to Apex Legends and a gun system reminiscent of Borderlands, Roboquest blasts a name for itself as one of the best FPS Action roguelites out there. Runs in Roboquest will have players collecting guns with absurd effects and drafting new abilities to create insanely powerful builds.
Personally, I love Roboquest for two reasons. First, it has a two-player coop mode so you can grab a buddy and go ham on runs. Second, this game excels as a gamified aim trainer. Enemies have bright weak points for players to shoot. As a result, taking the time to practice flicking, tracking, and fast movement transforms each room into a manic playground.
8. Curse of the Dead Gods
Creeping dread chases an adventurer as he makes his way through a cursed temple. Curse of the Dead Gods is an action roguelite that should appeal to fans of the Soulsborne series. Parries, well-timed dodges, and good resource management are heavily rewarded in the abysmal depths of the temple’s many chambers.
But Curse stands out because it expects players to juggle resources while clawing their way through its oppressive atmosphere. The temple becomes more menacing as you journey deeper into it, enemies become more punishing, and the curses players are inflicted with create a sense of impending doom. But, when you finally finish a run in the cursed temple, that feeling of elation you’ll get will make all of your trials well worth the effort.
7. Gunfire Reborn
If you’re looking for a four-player party shooter with a roguelite system, then look no further than Gunfire Reborn. Featuring colorful characters and a gun system similar to Borderlands, Gunfire Reborn takes the simple premise of previous looter shooters and combines it with a procedurally generated, run-based gameplay loop.
Gunfire features an RPG-like upgrade system. Chalices allow players to draft class upgrades and scrolls provide character buffs. Guns are also rolled with a list of different stats and upgrades, giving each one a unique personality. Outside of a run, you invest points into a tech tree to improve your character’s stats and hopefully make the next run easier.
This seamless blend between wacky guns and your hero’s ever-growing abilities makes Gunfire Reborn the perfect ‘One More Run’ game to blast through with friends.
6. Vampire Survivors
Made by one developer and a dream, Vampire Survivors redefines the basic necessities the best roguelites need for players to have fun. The artwork and controls are simplistic, using just 2D pixels for most of its assets, and giving players control over just their character’s movements and choice of upgrades. Attacks are automatic and will slay enemies in a variety of different, yet colorful ways. Enemies drop XP gems that the player can collect to level up and gain new abilities.
From that simple premise, Vampire Survivors’ minimalism lays the foundation for an entire subgenre of roguelites through its addictive gameplay. The shiny lights and gratifying sound effects turn the experience of leveling up into pure endorphin shots.
At its core, the fun of Vampire Surivivors strips away the unnecessary mechanics of other roguelites and showcases the intoxicating, gleeful joy players return to this genre for – that moment when their decisions forge a monster-blending apotheosis.
5. Into the Breach
Created by the same team that made FTL: Faster Than Light, Into the Breach is one of the best strategy-focused roguelites out there. It focuses on two keywords: predictability and survival.
Your units and enemy actions all have predictable outcomes. Compared to other tactics games which may have a dice roll behind each action, Into the Breach focuses on making sure the player knows the consequences of each action. In this way, Into The Breach has more in common with puzzles games than it does with its predecessors in the genre.
But while everything is predictable, players will be scrambling to keep their cities alive among the intricate clockwork of each battle. Their opponents, while predictable, will often outnumber them and the tools players have at their disposal – the mechs themselves – have a plethora of utility instead of just straight-forward damage. That “Aha!” moment where you figure out how to utilize these mechanics to solve each puzzle is what makes Into the Breach an unforgettable game.
4. FTL: Faster Than Light
Don’t be fooled by FTL’s simplistic art. Beneath the scurrying 2D pixels and static images of space ships lies a leader in the roguelite genre. Few games are able to marry phenomenal storytelling, unique fast-paced gameplay, and tough moment-to-moment decision-making while still keeping their game fun. FTL doesn’t just excel at this, it soars.
FTL is a legendary roguelite thanks to its gripping, randomized events, and innovative combat. Each event asks players to make difficult choices between what’s good for them and what’s morally right. The consequences of these decisions are nail-biting at times since the writing will give you hints at what you have at stake and some of them are randomized.
But FTL’s combat is a magnificent illustration of interstellar warfare. Managing your weapons, shields, boarding party, and drones while also neutralizing your opponents makes each conflict a unique puzzle. The myriad of solutions to these puzzles, especially ones that reward a player’s creativity. are what make FTL such a beloved roguelite.
3. Risk of Rain 2
On the note of great games with four-player coop, Risk of Rain 2 is one of the very best. Its gameplay is on the simpler side and there are plenty of things to unlock as players journey deeper into the planet.
Risk of Rain 2 really comes to life with its intricate item system and how quickly players can snowball. Tap into your inner hoarder, collect a mess of items that all provide buffs to your survivor and you may well become a nigh-unstoppable murder machine, striding across fields of slain enemies like an ancient god of war.
2. Slay the Spire
Slay the Spire has become the face of roguelite card games, and for good reason. Slay has earned its crown through well-designed cards, easy-to-learn mechanics, and fun-to-play combos.
What also makes Slay the Spire shine is just how well designed each part of it is. Enemies and characters all have unique playstyles that rarely overlap, and each encounter feels more like a puzzle to be solved rather than a life-or-death struggle.
If you don’t enjoy action games and want be rewarded for careful decision-making, this is the game to go for.
Long-time fans of the genre probably saw this coming, but Hades takes the top spot. Between its phenomenal storytelling, gorgeous characters, and the many combinations of unique boons players can bludgeon monsters with, Supergiant has created a blessing with this Grecian game.
What’s especially impressive about Hades is just how neatly the art team wrapped this entire game together. The writers created a great reason for why our hero Zagreus has to keep looping his death again and again.
The story is beautifully blends into the soundtrack, and the graphics team created a gorgeous visual bacchanalia for the eyes. The end result has players stepping into a breathing underworld that oozes out of your monitor and wraps you in its warm embrace.
Dying for more? Check out the best Souls-like games you can play until Elden Ring, or the best Metroidvania games you can explore today.
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