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When did "rogue-like" become so hip?

05-16-2014, 07:23 AM
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 141
When did "rogue-like" become so hip?

I became kind of curious about rogue-like games, and wondering why they seem to be so fashionable? So I'm wondering what TA forum members think about this...

- What are the great (rogue-like) games I should absolutely play?
- What is making these games so popular?
- What are the features that make a rogue-like awesome?

This is not altogether idle curiosity. I'm asking because I have a kind of project in mind (not necessarily short term) and I'm wondering how it would (possibly) fit into the genre.

Please, please answer, and thanks in advance!

Creator of Antistar: Rising (3D adventure) and Darwin's nightmare (vertical shooter)
Working on: Game Degree Zero, Project Spectral and The Belated Antistar Sequel.
05-16-2014, 08:12 AM
If you want to get a wider understanding of what makes the roguelike so great, you must expand your horizons beyond IOS. Check out Rogue, the game that laid the foundation for the genre (They're called roguelikes, because these games are like Rogue). Check out the IOS greats like Cavern, 868-Hack, Hoplite, Dungeonism, and Wayward Souls. Check out Spelunky, Dungeons of Dredmor, Teleglitch, The Binding of Isaac, FTL, Dwarf Fortress on PC

There is a long-running debate on what exactly defines a roguelike. While many elements are agreed on - procedurally generated levels, permadeath, challenging gameplay - there's one camp that insists that a roguelike must be turn-based and isometric (usually described as classic or traditional roguelikes) and another that ascribes to the broader definition of the genre, which include games that mix roguelike elements with other gameplay styles such as first person shooters and platformers. I'm tend to go with the latter; such restrictions are close minded and don't allow the genre to grow and expand. There are also "rogue-lites" or roguelike-likes, games that have some of the elements but wouldn't be considered true roguelikes

What makes roguelikes so enjoyable? Well, personally, my entry into roguelikes was the action-RPG Demon's Souls. Now Demons' Souls is not a roguelike, but I consider it a gateway to the genre, an introduction to the basic elements and mindset needed to enjoy the roguelike genre and perhaps hard games in general. Death is quick, and sudden, and lurking around every corner. You need to be careful and cautious. Recklessness gets you killed. You need to accept that a wrong decision, a lapse in judgement, could make you lose hours of progress. Your life in Demons' Souls is precious and playing foolishly will only mean a quick death.

I think that's perhaps the most critical reason behind the appeal of roguelike. Life has meaning, death has consequence. The setback is more than a quick load to the last checkpoint. The games demand more from a player. They demand that you improve your skills, actually become a better player. They demand that you play on a knife's edge, where a simple mistake could equal death and failure. It's that slim margin for error, that gives these games true tension, not the manufactured atmospheres of Outlast or Dead Space, but tension that derives from your skills or lack of skills, from the fear of what lies around the next corner or the darkness ahead.

Last edited by Bronxsta; 05-16-2014 at 07:24 PM.

05-16-2014, 08:21 AM
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,026
Originally Posted by tea View Post
I became kind of curious about rogue-like games, and wondering why they seem to be so fashionable? So I'm wondering what TA forum members think about this...

- What are the great (rogue-like) games I should absolutely play?
- What is making these games so popular?
- What are the features that make a rogue-like awesome?

This is not altogether idle curiosity. I'm asking because I have a kind of project in mind (not necessarily short term) and I'm wondering how it would (possibly) fit into the genre.

Please, please answer, and thanks in advance!
Good question about what is making rogue-likes so popular these days. All I can think of, is that all the geeks like me who loved them back in the 8086 days and then played everything rogue-like since, eventually grew up and still enjoy the games today. I've noticed pretty much everywhere, there's a lot of people still interested in the genre, it's quite surprising to me.

Ten years ago, roguelikes were not discussed like they are today, as far as I know, so it might have come with the popularity of the smart phone, specifically when they became capable of some good mobile gaming. There might have been some roguelikes on gameboys and DS but NOTHING compared to iphones and android devices, so this likely played a big role in it.

Without going into the "what is a roguelike" debate, here's what makes a good RL for me:

* Challenging gameplay that rewards strategy and planning
* Randomized levels and other elements within (this for me is a must)
* Permadeath or at leave the OPTION of permadeath
* Lots of item variety, enemy variety and unpredictable stuff (traps, etc)
* Easy to pick up and play (kinda comes with the package, usually)
* An online leaderboard helps because it promotes competition and shows you how well others are doing

Notice that I did not mention graphics. While I won't deny that I love the charm that Sword of Fargoal has, graphics take a backseat for roguelikes.

Which rogue-likes you should play... Well, this is subjective, but I recommend the following for IOS (PC and all other platforms are another story but I can recommend some on those if you want)

* Cavern - Easily one of my favorite roguelikes of all time, because it combines elements of Diablo style inventory and town portals, shops along with permadeath and fairly difficult gameplay. IT also has mostly randomized levels but with some occasional static rooms and areas.

* Sword of Fargoal - A classic redone and I've spent way too much time playing this game. If played on the higher difficulties with permadeath, it is extremely challenging and the levels are HUGE

* Endless Depths - This one isn't well known but I've been playing it for years. Much like Cavern, there is diablo-like elements, an inventory, skill system for leveling up, equipment, etc. It's purely a dungeon crawl, just keep going down till you die.

* Wayward Souls - A new entry on the market but one with amazing art, music and heavily action-based gameplay. Best way I can describe it is like a 2D Dark souls, but with some differences. Might not be classed as a rogue-like to some, but I consider it to be an action rogue-like and one of the best I've played.

There's so many more, and probably a few of my favorites I can't think of right now, but I'm sure others will respond and give you some ideas.

Favorites: Siralim | Cavern | Dungeonism | Avadon | Solomon's Keep | Endless Depths | Tallowmere
Now Playing: Dungeons of Chaos UNITY EDITION | Siralim 2

Last edited by Jorlen; 05-16-2014 at 08:24 AM.
05-16-2014, 01:11 PM
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: Philippines
Posts: 22,282
When did "rogue-like" become so hip?
My guess is, since you werent born yet.

Exact-Psience My 2014 Top 10 Games of the Year: Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, Hearthstone, VVVVVV, Battleheart Legacy, Wayward Souls, Bug Heroes 2, Powerpuff Girls Defenders of Townsville, Deep Loot, Monument Valley, Bioshock Honorable Mentions: Traps N Gemstones, Bardbarian, Goblin Sword
05-16-2014, 01:33 PM
Joined: Mar 2012
Location: NY, NY
Posts: 990
I think it's mainly a matter of small developers realizing that the format is a very good one for them to make a good game without having the time or resources to make a big game with a lot of differentiated content.

I also think it appeals to gamers who want short RPG experiences. Personally, I don't really like a full scripted RPG to be much less than 20 hours unless it's an ARPG, but I'm perfectly happy with a rogue-like I can beat in under two hours. There's more potential for instant gratification there.
05-16-2014, 01:39 PM
Joined: Jul 2012
Location: Norway
Posts: 159
Its been 'hip' for a long time, but perhaps more accessible for a lot of people when we start seing more games with graphics etc.

Diablo was the first mainstream roguelike I would say, it differs from the so called 'berlin interpretation' with being real time and not turn based.

What is a roguelike can be argued to lenghts, but the core would be permadeath (no soup for you) and procedural generated stuff to explore, with resource management.

I would say you also need lots of stuff to find, one of the aspects of diablo. People played same levels over and over and over for the odd shot at getting a rare item.

Some people, like me, prefere turn based, like cardinal quest, sword of farogal, caverns, quest of duneons etc, other (perhaps more mainstream) preferes real time, like heroes of loot, wayward souls.

And some like both.

I gues the apealing is that it can be created by small teams, carefull management of resources, understanding of the game will get you longer than just randomly do stuff, and the thrill of surviving.

So as 'when' the hype came ? In certain circles of people, I'd say about 25 years ago But back then you had to be a lab geek.
05-16-2014, 04:47 PM
I agree, the fire for rogue likes has really sparked lately. I really don't get it, most of them have not to much of a combat system and such. The two I enjoy are the enchanted cave and (of course) wayward souls
05-16-2014, 06:26 PM
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,929
With the expanded definition of roguelike..the first roguelike I really got into is Diablo. Randomized levels..tons of loot.. I can play hardcore for the permadeath part if I care or regular like Rogue Legacy (granted this isn't "strictly" roguelike...more roguelike-like).

It does seem to be more of a buzz word that caught on the past few years.

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Last edited by tops2; 05-16-2014 at 06:28 PM.
05-16-2014, 07:05 PM
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 9,494
Originally Posted by tea View Post
- What are the great (rogue-like) games I should absolutely play?
Assuming iOS compatibility is desired then Cavern, WazHack, and Dungeon Plunder my favorites. The Dungeon, Legends of Yore, Pitman, Sword of Fargoal, Rogue Ninja, and Zaga-33 are some other recommendations I've kept on my iPod.

Last edited by undeadcow; 05-16-2014 at 10:27 PM.
05-16-2014, 07:10 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Fort Lauderdale
Posts: 5,521
In the 90's on alt.games.roguelikes