Roguelikes have become a booming genre in recent years, with hundreds of independent developers providing innovative dungeon-crawling experiences. These games are intense from start to finish as you battle mobs through ever-changing levels, collect endless loot on your way, and achieve permadeath at the hands of a boss. The addictive gameplay makes every run feel fresh, no matter how many times you got pushed back at the start.
The best roguelikes retain their popularity years after their release. So you should see a healthy mix of classic and new titles on this list for you to mash those buttons.
Being one of the top contenders for the award in 2020, Supergiant’s fast-paced masterpiece has rightfully earned its place on this list. In Hades, you take control of Zagreus, a successor to the god of death, and engage in successive hack and slash battles against the Olympians to escape the infernal hell.
As you go through each level, you collect boons that grant you special skills and bonuses to help you challenge your father and his subjects. It’s filled to the brim with deep mythological lore and references, as you build romantic relationships and alliances with other Greek deities. If you have a portable system (Nintendo Switch/steam bridge), it’s a must-have game! Hades is available on Nintendo Switch and Windows PC.
Lovecraftian themes are in full effect here as you explore dungeons beneath a Gothic mansion. Players are tasked with training and leading a team of flawed soldiers through twisted forests and crumbling crypts, as they battle unimaginable enemies in turn-based combat and collect treasure.
However, it’s not just physical combat that tires your team, but also afflictions such as Fear, Stress, Starvation, and Disease, which hinder their performance as an Explorer/Survivor. By giving inspirational speeches and planning regular breaks, you need to monitor their health, making sure they don’t give in to the all-consuming darkness. The Darkest Dungeon is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC and iOS.
The Binding of Isaac
If you’re wondering where the “BibleThump” emote is Tic is from, look no further. Based on the biblical tale of Isaac, whose mother tries to sacrifice him to God as proof of faith, players are tasked with keeping him alive. Escaping into the basement, a crying Isaac is confronted by a multitude of deranged enemies, lost siblings, and psychological demons.
All levels are randomly generated, with unique loot that grants special advantages against enemies, adding to that high replay value from over 500 hours of gameplay. There is also a two-player co-op feature, although roguelikes are most appreciated when played alone on a rainy day. The Binding of Isaac is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Windows PC.
If you’ve ever wanted to play a pixelated, slightly remixed version of dark souls, Dead Cells is the way to go. You play as a prisoner waking up in the depths of an island and trying to get out while fighting demons and a total of 10 ‘Keepers’ (bosses). Along the way, you acquire skins, weapons, and power-ups, some of which permanently increase your stats when you restart a run after a death.
It’s certainly no walk in the park, and the 2D side-scrolling format makes you feel claustrophobic as enemies pour in their attack from afar. It also features strong Twitch integration, allowing chatters to vote and choose specific upgrades or routes for the streamer. Dead Cells is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC, Android and iOS.
Enter the dungeon
While every other title on this list relies heavily on melee combat, Enter the Gungeon steps it up by handing you weapons that fire vibrating missiles, lasers, and cannonballs. The plot revolves around four adventurers as they descend into a dungeon in hopes of finding a gun that erases the past. Players can choose one of these heroes, all of which have solitary perks such as lock picking and tragic stories that they intend to clear.
In classic roguelike fashion, you slay enemies, collect loot, and fight your way through meticulously designed traps. Ammo is also limited, which adds to that feeling of tension against high-speed bosses that can easily dodge them. Enter the Gungeon is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Windows PC.
Chance of rain 2
No, you don’t need to play the first game to enjoy it. Risk of Rain 2 sends you to an alien planet to navigate various environments, slay monsters, and loot chests to boost your offensive and defensive abilities. It’s quite possibly the only roguelike that justifies the co-op feature, letting you team up in groups of four and hunt down bosses that drop currency, letting you buy chests that drop random items.
Every few minutes, the enemy’s strength, difficulty, and number increase, making it harder to stay at any level – prompting you to close the deal quickly. Every piece of content from the first game is included here and has been modified into 3D models. Risk of Rain 2 is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Windows PC.
For a genre that’s mostly indie-laden, it’s great to see AAA studios trying to use their resources to deliver something great. Housemarque’s Returnal puts players in the shoes of space pilot Selene, who is stuck in a death loop, waking up each time on a new hostile planet.
In order to keep his sanity, players must battle hordes of aliens using advanced and upgradeable weapons and uncover the secrets of the dreadful puzzle. The combat feels like a generic third-person shooter, though it’s the psychological horror-based story and addictive roguelike elements that keep it from fading. Returnal is available exclusively on Playstation 5.