Opening My Eyes to Roguelikes and Rogue-lites


Despite being a life-long gamer, the Roguelike and Rogue-lite sub-genres of games have largely been left untouched until relatively recently. Didn’t even know what the genre was until I heard about it on a podcast well into my adult years. The sound of grinding through randomly-generated dungeons in an RPG where all your progress is lost when you die didn’t sound like my cup of tea.

In recent years, elements of the Roguelike experience have permeated to other genres while also toning down the punishment. For example, games of the Rogue-lite variety often give players some means of permanently improving their situation in order to make future runs a bit easier. As for me, I have little interest in playing a dungeon crawl in any genre, but I was willing to give Rogue-lite games like Into the Breach and 20XX a chance due to being rooted in games I love like Advance Wars and Mega Man.

Both games do a great job of nailing the gameplay of their source material. However, it’s in their Rogue-lite elements where both games truly shine. For Into the Breach, you can add new pilots to your stable by sending one back to the beginning of the game each time you win or lose. You also earn coins by completing certain achievements that allow you to unlock new units for future runs. With 20XX, you can earn a currency that allows you to buy temporary upgrades, permanent upgrades, and even the ability to add entirely new power-ups to the mix. Between the randomly-generated levels and the meta-progression after each attempt, the repetitiveness of the grind is offset by ever-changing levels and reward systems that generally give me something to hang my hat on after each failed attempt.

Having gone through two positive experiences with Rogue-lite games, I’m tempted to try more. High on my list of Rogue-lites to try include Dead Cells, Death Road to Canada, and Moonlighter. All are available on the Nintendo Switch, which seems like an excellent platform for this style of game. I might even be open to explore games that stick closer to the origins of the Roguelike genre.

The moral of the story is don’t knock it till you try it. Didn’t really see the point in the genre before, but apparently I just needed to meet it half way. Are you a fan of Roguelikes or Rogue-lites? If so, are there any you’d recommend I try out? If you haven’t taken the plunge, what’s keeping you away?


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One thought on “Opening My Eyes to Roguelikes and Rogue-lites

  1. Jason J May 12, 2019 / 12:06 AM

    Dead Cells was amazing! Definitely worth your time since you enjoyed 20XX. Even more so if you like Metroidvanias!

    I’d also recommend Rogue Legacy. Not sure if it’s on Switch (or at least not yet!), but highly enjoyed playing it on PS4.

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