The 10 best roguelike games of all time

Each run brings something different for players to overcome with roguelikes, and that tends to be the most addictive factor for these titles. While the debate over what exactly is a roguelike versus a roguelite has been exhaustive, we find that the modern genre has evolved into a less nuanced system, ultimately centered around incremental upgrades upon death, and game design more focused aiming to encourage players to do multiple runs to reach the end. Whether or not you think the ASCII characters are a factor, here’s our list of the top ten roguelike games of all time.

Related: The best games if you only have an hour

10. FTL: Faster than light

Image via subset games
  • Published September 14, 2012
  • Developed by Subset Games
  • Published by Subset Games
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, iOS

It’s a journey across the galaxy to save the galaxy. A tale as old as time, certainly, but the game’s systems made each run feel unique and brutally difficult. Finding new species to add to your crew, decking out your ship with the best technology available for ship-to-ship combat, and opening airlocks at all the wrong times made FTL a juggernaut of villainous gameplay. It’s been likened to The Oregon Trail, where tough choices are imposed on players where the wrong choice means another frustrating defeat, but the victories that have come from this title have been all the sweeter.

9. Darkest Dungeon

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Image via Throneful on YouTube
  • Published on January 16, 2016
  • Developed by Red Hook Studios
  • Published by Red Hook Studios
  • Platforms: Linux, PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Every action in Darkest Dungeon feels like it’s the last ray of hope for all of humanity against a rampaging horde of demons, monsters, and utter madness. With a brilliant narrator explaining the actions (and the unbridled hopelessness) of the group as they continue to progress, players must perfect the act of balancing strength and group composition and hope to ever complete the title. Whether you’re searching dark crypts for supposed treasure or trying to stop dark rituals, the only expectation you should have is death’s ultimate and merciful grasp.

8. Tales of Maj’Eyal

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Image via ManTheMaker on YouTube
  • Published December 31, 2012
  • Developed by Netcore Games
  • Published by Netcore Games
  • Platforms: Linux, PC, Mac

Tales of Maj’Eyal is an unknown gem that offers a completely free version. It’s a turn-based RPG with dozens of character, class, and race combinations to unlock as you progress through the unique class campaigns. It’s also probably the closest thing to the original Rogue, both in terms of sheer difficulty and seemingly never-ending dungeon crawling. Because players end up with a variety of abilities at their disposal, turns where enemies charge in from all sides are slow, thought-provoking moments as you line and slash the resources currently available. Tons of loot is available that increases various stats, the enemies are endless, and the mechanics are absolutely brilliant to explore and exploit.

7. Danger of rain 2

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Image via Hopoo Games
  • Published on August 11, 2020
  • Developed by Hopoo Games
  • Published by Gearbox Publishing
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Land on a strange planet, kill the locals and teleport to the next area. Risk of Rain 2 is a seemingly simple premise for the 3D sequel to the 2D hit Risk of Rain, but it consistently delivers unique characters and upgrades that you’ll chase after to exploit various abilities. With up to four players to work together to get out of this brutal world, collect as much loot as possible and die spectacularly. The run-and-gun element carried over to Risk of Rain 2, but the main contentious element is determining how much loot you should grab before triggering the stage boss and moving on.

6. Reborn shots

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Gamepur screenshot
  • Released November 17, 2021
  • Developed by Duoyi Games
  • Published by Duoyi Games
  • Platforms: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox, Android

Soar like an eagle and sting like a rabbit in the anthropomorphic, weapon-focused roguelike Gunfire Reborn. With dozens of weapons to unlock, various scrolls that improve abilities, and powers that let you eliminate dozens of enemies at once, this game swings wildly from brutal combat to unbridled power fantasy once players understand how it all connects. The different characters can be unlocked as the game progresses, and each can bring several unique mechanics to the table to develop a well-rounded party.

5. NecroDancer’s Crypt

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Gamepur screenshot
  • Published on April 23, 2015
  • Developed by Brace Yourself Games
  • Published by Brace Yourself Games, Klei Entertainment
  • Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Mobile

If you know, you know – for Crypt of the NecroDancer veterans, just seeing a screenshot of the title is enough to get a catchy tune from one of the best soundtracks in gaming. Players move in time to attack enemies following specific movement rules. If you miss the beat you will lose your coin in multiplayer and can give enemies a chance to attack as you cannot move until the next beat. Different weapons that can be bought in shops work differently, from rapiers that give the character a quick attack, to polearms that allow you to attack from a greater distance. An accessibility option allows players to move whenever they want instead of being locked to the beat.

4. Dead cells

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Image via the Epic Games Store
  • Published on August 6, 2018
  • Developed by Motion Twin
  • Published by Motion Twin
  • Platforms: Linux, PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android

A roguelite action-platformer from Metroidvania that took off on Steam thanks to a successful Early Access program, Dead Cells tells the silent story of a prisoner desperate to escape. Levels constantly change after each failed run, packed with platforming challenges and difficult enemies. Risk versus reward is at the heart of the game, as players can curse themselves for a quick boost of power, or try to run as fast as possible for a chance to open timed rooms that also offer great powers can. The action is very on point with responsive controls, an exhaustive array of weapons and abilities to unlock, and more exploration than you can shake a stick.

3. Kill the tower

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Gamepur screenshot
  • Released on January 23, 2019
  • Developed by Mega Crit Games
  • Published by Mega Crit Games
  • Platforms: Linux, PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Mobile

The card-based RPG Slay the Spire took the world by storm in early 2019, ultimately bringing a new sense of power and purpose to the world of card-based RPGs. Originally featuring three characters, each working with unique mechanics, the goal was to get to the top of the tower where a mysterious heart awaited. With map upgrades, powerful artifacts, and an easy-to-understand but difficult-to-master premise, the world has been constantly killing enemies since its release. There’s also a Steam Workshop integration with 600+ mods available so you don’t have to stop killing unless you run out of power.

2. Hades

When is the release date for Cross-Save in Hades?
Image via Supergiant Games
  • Published December 6, 2018
  • Developed by Supergiant Games
  • Published by Supergiant Games, Take-Two Interactive
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch

As Prince Zagreus, the son of Hades, assume the ultimate form of rebellion against papa in Hades. The action-based gameplay is flawlessly coordinated, with multiple weapons and upgrades offering Zagreus the power of the gods themselves against dozens of enemies spread across the various levels of Hell. Bosses and guardians remember facing you, commenting on your last failed attempt or their redemption, and a beautiful story is woven across the colorful backdrop of characters and mythology. Mythology takes this game to the next level, thanks to a brilliantly inspired tapestry of sorrow, sorrow and betrayal, inherited from Supergiant Games’ penchant for excellent storytelling.

1. Binding of Isaac

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Image via TheKuskus23 on YouTube
  • Released September 28, 2011
  • Developed by Edmund McMillen, Florian Himsl
  • Edited by Edmund McMillen
  • Platforms: Linux, PC, Mac

When the original Binding of Isaac came out, it was a brilliant roguelike with a strange, twisted story about a mother succumbed to religious fervor. The constant revisions and re-releases with various suffixes may have diluted and exhausted a once mighty title, but the first Binding of Isaac is a brilliant love letter to roguelikes, where power-ups can transform your character from a sobbing boy into a harbinger of doom. For many, it rang with tales of abusive households and the pinnacle of achievement in finally escaping and overcoming the trauma. For others, it was shooting your tears onto piles of poop. For all, it was a critically acclaimed masterpiece.

https://www.gamepur.com/guides/the-10-best-roguelike-games-of-all-time The 10 best roguelike games of all time

Curtis Crabtree

Curtis Crabtree is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Curtis Crabtree joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: curtiscrabtree@24ssports.com.

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