Roguelike games are among the most challenging games to play today. The Roguelike game genre is quite unique in the way that it provides players with a challenge that they normally wouldn’t encounter in games of similar genres.
If you’re a fan of the Roguelike game genre or if you’re looking for a game that will surely give you a challenge, then this article is for you. Here we will give you a quick overview of the genre, why you should try its games, and 17 of the best Roguelike games that you can play right now.
Inside This Article
- What is a Roguelike Game?
- Roguelike Gaming Concepts
- 17 Best Roguelike Games
- Why Should You Play Roguelike Games?
Roguelike (also spelled as Rogue-like), is an RPG subgenre that is characterized by a dungeon crawl through generated levels, turn-based gameplay, and tile-based graphics. The game genre is best known for the permanent death of the character player and for being based on high fantasy narratives.
To this day, there have been debates within the video game community regarding the elements that explicitly define a Roguelike game. The common factor that the majority of the community agrees on is that Roguelike games incorporate elements that are popularized by a 1980 text-based game called Rogue. That said, classic hit is also what inspired the name of the genre.
These days, the Roguelike genre has drastically expanded in terms of games and their following. The genre was able to establish a dedicated fan community around the world who not only play the games but also craft their own version of Roguelike games.
Games of the Roguelike genre derive concepts from tabletop RPGs such as the popular Dungeons & Dragons. This means that the majority of the games give players full control of the protagonist who they can customize.
Modern Roguelikes may have a couple of nuances in the gameplay but the general gameplay concept of the genre stays the same. Players begin at the topmost level of a dungeon, just like a dungeon crawl game. They will have to navigate through the dungeon, collecting new weapons, armor, in-game money, and fight monsters along the way.
Roguelike games, however, are widely popular for their permanent death or permadeath concept. Meaning, if the characters lose all of their health, they will no longer be useable unless the game is restarted.
The majority of the games in the genre are turn-based where the game environment relies on the player’s actions. This gives players enough time to evaluate and determine the best strategy in order to defeat the level and move on to the next.
Another aspect that makes the genre so popular is its randomly generated levels. Through procedural generation, no game is the same. Each game is different for each player which is why gamers cannot rely on walkthroughs to play their way through the game.
At the end of the game, players will be assessed and given a score based on the amount of money, treasure, experience earned, and how fast the player finished the game. The score will then be ranked and compared to the player’s other runs of the game.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are some of the best Roguelike games that you can download on your mobile devices today!
Shattered Pixel Dungeon is one of the more popular games in the genre. It is based on the widely popular Pixel Dungeon and was designed to improve the game’s quirks. However, this project evolved into an entirely separate game, giving life to Shattered Pixel Dungeon.
The game features a lot of variety and replayability with four different characters, randomized levels, unique enemies, and over 150 items to collect. Every game is unique and is guaranteed to be simple but contains a lot of depth.
You will get frequent updates from the developers which means that there will be new things to look forward to at least once a month.
Soul Knight brings together high fantasy and modern elements with its quirky gameplay. You’ll be playing a hero whose mission is to restore the balance of the world. Your goal is to seek a magical stone that was stolen by aliens.
You will be exploring dungeons, collecting weapons, and shooting aliens as you go! It’s a shooter Roguelike game that is easy, challenging, and enjoyable. Soul Knight is one game that you will want to have on your phones!
Pixel Dungeon is a dungeon crawler Roguelike game that is hailed as one of the most exciting and popular games to date. Explore the depths of a dungeon, collect items, and fight fierce monsters to find the Amulet of Yendor – a sought-after artifact of the game. You’ll be needing your wits and strategy for this game as you won’t be able to get through levels easily!
You will be playing through 25 randomly generated levels, a dungeon full of dangers, and a lot of surprises that you will have to discover by playing the game!
Immortal Rogue markets itself as a hack-and-slash Roguelike game where you play an immortal vampire who wreaks havoc every 100 years. Your character needs to feed and who you will choose to hunt on will impact the future.
You will be playing in different timelines that offer unique enemies to defeat. The in-game combat is brutal and your defeat will have dire consequences.
The good news is that the game has massive replayability and a dynamic world that’s based on your narrative choices. The game is equally exciting and challenging, which guarantees that you won’t be putting your phone down anytime soon.
Hoplite is one of the Roguelike games where every move you make counts. It is a turn-based game that will test your tactical senses as you navigate through small maps. You will have to upgrade your abilities and dive deeper into the unknown as you progress into the game.
Hoplite is a game that is designed to be hard yet fair. Despite that, you still have to be careful because it is a Roguelike game and once your character dies, you will have to start from scratch. You have the option to play in two game modes. First is the Quest Mode which is your typical Roguelike game, and the second is the Challenge Mode where you’ll be given a random set of attributes and play predetermined challenges.
Make a move but be careful; the maps in Hoplite are small and can end your game fast if you don’t think about it.
Card Crusade puts a little twist on Roguelike games. As the game title implies, you’ll be playing with cards as a Card Crusader.
Designed as a Roguelike deck-building game, you’ll have to assemble your deck and unlock eight different character classes to defeat your enemies. You’ll be going through ten floors of unforgiving dungeon in order to gain experience and level up before defeating the final boss.
You can opt to purchase the eight character classes or play the game without paying for anything.
Unlikely Heroes is a fresh take on Roguelike games. It takes a break from the genre’s traditional art style and gives you a well-animated game filled with colorful characters and levels. Furthermore, the game also takes you out of the dungeons and into an enchanting land of desert, forests, and snow lands.
The game still features the genre’s high fantasy theme as it is set in the medieval era where dragons and monsters roam the land and destroy all things that they come across. The player takes the character of a rising hero who embarks on a grand adventure to restore the land and defeat all those that seek to ruin the world’s balance.
This cute game also supports a village building feature where you can create your village, find villagers, and more.
Veteran players of Roguelike games will know about NetHack. Originally released in 1987, the game became a basis for many modern Roguelike games. Now, it comes to mobile so that you can have access to this cult classic.
The game has one of the deepest and richest gameplay in its genre and remains to be one of the best games in the Roguelike genre today. While it doesn’t have the fancy graphics that the majority of the games in this list have, it can be guaranteed that you’re playing one of the best that the Roguelike genre can offer.
Cardinal Quest 2 is everything that you would want in a Roguelike game. This retro-style game allows you to play as one of seven unique character classes as you root for loot in a dangerous dungeon.
You can trust that this game will offer a challenging roleplay experience that’s complete with a deep achievement system that will test not only your wits but also your skills. The game also features a unique morale system that allows you to customize and upgrade between dives. Cardinal Quest 2 also offers an endless mode that will really put your abilities to the test.
Wayward Souls is among the action-packed Roguelike games that have quick playthroughs and great replayability. It’s ideal if you’re looking for a Roguelike game that doesn’t take up too much of your time.
Like most games, the levels are generated procedurally and provide players with unique experiences each time they run the game. The game has six unique characters to choose from. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that your victory will depend on your skill as a player and not the amount of loot that you get.
Explore the 13 area types, fight for survival, and combat your way through the world of Wayward Souls today.
Ananias is one of the most well-known Roguelike games for its challenging yet simple interface. It’s reminiscent of the classic Roguelike games that many veteran players are used to without the fuss and complexity of other modern games.
The game takes you to ancient ruins where you’ll have to survive until you reach the bottom level in order to save the world. You’ll be playing in five different environments that are teeming with monsters and items.
There are eight player classes and each of them is unique. We advise you to carefully choose your character as there are classes that are combat-focused and others that rely on items in order to survive.
Ananias prides itself on sticking to the classic features of the genre. You’ll get turn-based combat, randomly generated levels, and item strategy without any complex commands. Furthermore, you can also play with your friends with the game’s online mode. It just doesn’t get more fun than that!
Contrary to most in this list, Ailment isn’t based in a medieval setting. Instead, the game takes you on a sci-fi journey through outer space that will give you a new view of Roguelike games.
Ailment is a game that heavily relies on its intense gameplay and story-driven structure. The story itself has a very dark air to it and it just gets scarier as you progress through the game. The game is hardcore so you might as well expect a challenge when you play it.
You will have to defend your allies, explore dark levels, and get through scary bosses to finish this action-packed game!
FTL: Faster Than Light is an award-winning Roguelike game that allows you to experience the atmosphere of trying to save the galaxy. You will have to face monstrous enemies as you progress, all while trying to keep your ship afloat.
It’s a unique Roguelike game in the sense that you’ll be able to command your crew, upgrade your ship, and even distribute power. Despite being an Indie Roguelike, there is so much to look forward to in this game that will really excite its players.
Of course, seeing as it is a Roguelike game, it wouldn’t be complete without the permadeath feature. You’ll have to work hard in order to keep yourself alive because, in this game, there is a constant threat of defeat that will really get your adrenaline pumping.
Caves is a classical turn-based Roguelike game whose main feature allows you to dig through caves using a pickaxe. You’ll have a big weapon arsenal and easy-to-find resources that will help you get through the game.
Magic and technology mix in this game with its unique narrative. Your main enemy in this game will be hordes of skeletons, and when we say hordes, you will literally get different types of skeletons that you will have to fight.
Apart from that, the game is your classic Roguelike game with randomly generated levels, permadeath, and unique items that are native to the game.
Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition was first released as a PC game. But due to its increasing popularity, it got into the mobile platform, too.
The game centers on being a wilderness survival game that combines magic and science to test your wits. You’ll be playing as a scientist who has to escape from another dimension. There, you must learn how to exploit your environment, fend-off enemies, and find a way back home.
Unravel the mysteries of the island as you gather resources and use your strategies to survive. Be warned though; the moment that your character player dies, you’ll have to relive the horrors of the game all over again.
Dead Cells is like a mashup of Castlevania and Rogue. Bringing together elements from the two classic titles, there’s no wonder it is also among the widely-played paid Roguelike games nowadays.
The thrill of this game is the setting — a castle that transforms its looks and perils for each of your playthroughs. Also, it borrows a bit of the element players love from RPGs: the ability to play different roles based on your favorite gear. Yes, you can be a sword, shield, ranged weapon, or magic specialist in this game!
Just be careful throughout the levels because restarting is the immediate consequence of your defeat.
Last in our roundup of Roguelike games is another famous hit — Slay the Spire. With the gameplay revolving around cards, you’ll survive it if you’re good at deck building. The better the cards you have, the better the combos you can pull off against enemies that come your way. And if you’re really powerful or lucky enough, you’ll get to slay the spire in no time.
Don’t forget that the environment in-game changes each run and there are many bosses to face, so make the most of your playthroughs. The best way to achieve the best deck is to collect the relics you’ll find around you.
Many people might think that Roguelike games are unfair in nature and may want to opt for a game with more structure. Nonetheless, the Roguelike genre still thrives.
A good reason why you should play Roguelike games is that they provide you with an entirely new experience every time you play them. The said games normally don’t have a set structure like most games and they also rarely have set mechanics.
The games give players a chance to learn and explore. Though some concepts of the games under the genre are similar to mobile RPG games, the difference lies in the random aspect of Roguelike games. It creates experiences that are guaranteed to not bore you because every run is different.
Roguelike games also teach you that losing can be fun, too. If you are looking to play such games, you should be prepared to lose. But unlike other games, losing is fun when you play Roguelike games.
Why? Because losing will allow you to start all over again. It will give you a chance to explore further and learn more about the game itself. It’s like you’re always starting from scratch when you start over in a Roguelike game.
There are a lot of things to love about Roguelike games and those are the reasons why, despite the games being absolutely difficult, they still thrive. You will just have to play some of the games to get a feel for it.
Roguelike games are ideal for those who are really looking for a challenge. While most games have their individual challenges, games of this genre will really test your wits.
All in all, we do not recommend this to timid players or players who are looking for a more structured gaming experience. Getting through Roguelike games can take a while and levels can be really random so it would require a little bit of patience in order to fully grasp the games.
Challenging as they may be, games of the Roguelike genre are exciting to play and can give you a gaming experience that you might not have before.
Not quite ready to try Roguelike games? You can always check out our guide to mobile games to play to cure your boredom and see if something there will tickle your fancy!