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12 Best Roguelikes For Beginners

Roguelike is a subgenre of role-playing video games that feature a dungeon crawl that must be completed in procedurally generated levels.  These games often feature some shared gameplay attributes, namely turn-based gameplay, grid-based movements, and procedurally generated levels.

If you’re new to roguelikes and don’t know where to start, we’ve got the list for you! Here are some of the roguelikes that we think are beginner-friendly, or at the very least fun for beginners to gain more experience in the roguelike genre.

Let’s get to it then, here’s a list of the 12 best roguelikes for beginners!

Loop Hero

Loop Hero
Photo Credits: Devolver Digital

One of the roguelikes that made big waves this year, Loop Hero could be the roguelike that brings a whole new wave of fans into the roguelike genre. The game itself is a mix of deck building, RPG, and strategy under the roguelike name.

The interesting thing about Time Loop is that you don’t control anyone. Instead, you control the game. You can change the world and everything that happens by putting down cards that could spawn enemies, resources, and eventually the boss of each stage. 

You build everything through cards and any regeneration, item crafting, equipping of items and more takes place through these cards. Another cool factor would be the randomly generated paths and terrain which in turn unlocks new enemies. As usual, with stronger heroes, comes stronger enemies. Stay strong!

Crawl

Crawl
Photo Credits: Powerhoof

A local multiplayer dungeon crawler, where you and three of your friends try to fight your way out of the dungeon. But the twist here is, only one adventurer will be able to make it out of the dungeon alive. Drama will ensue, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it as you grow desperate to get out.

So you decide who gets to die and backstab each other in the process. The best part? Your dead friends come back to life as vengeful spirits and are out to kill you by possessing anything within sight or by summoning monsters. 

Ironically, the stronger the survivor becomes, the stronger the spirits become as well (seems like a recurring trope here with roguelikes). This roguelike tests your skills and friendship at the same time, so let’s hope that they’re both equally good.

Dead Cells

Dead Cells
Photo Credits: Motion Twin

A Metroidvania-like roguelike – Dead Cells is a platformer where you can unlock new areas and abilities as you progress, but are doomed to start from the beginning when you die. It’s interesting how it works, but the game seems to manage it well. You’re always on the move in this game, attacking and jumping around, even climbing walls and setting things on fire.

Everything gets taken away from you when you die or succeed in killing a boss, so it’s a practice of object impermanence. Although, once you’ve defeated the boss and activated the boss cell, everything gets harder. There’s less time to pause or heal, and all your enemies seem to have gotten way stronger than before.

This goes on several times until you reach the final difficulty setting which only allows three heals throughout the entire run. Good luck with that.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Dungeons of Dredmor
Photo Credits: Gaslamp Games

The idea is to journey deeper and deeper into the depths of the seemingly never-ending dungeon in your quest to slay Lord Dredmor, ruler of the dungeons. In this game, you won’t be facing continuous attacks from monsters and enemies like most roguelikes and the permadeath feature can even be turned off.

Basically, you can play this game like a normal RPG if you want to. But where’s the fun in that right? The threat of death is what fuels us to excel after all. The difficulty can be scaled back and there are save points to help you through in case you get randomly impaled. Now, you might think, ‘Sounds like a piece of cake!’ and, well, that’s where you’re wrong.

Most people tend to never get past the first stage, and some took a few steps into the dungeon and have unwillingly met their end. This game – even though it tries to lure you in with some perks, is unforgiving. Even so, it has a ton of replayability factors and you will keep coming back!

Enter The Gungeon

Enter The Gungeon
Photo Credits: Dodge Roll

Another interesting fusion of genres, Enter The Gungeon brings together a roguelike with some arcade shooter elements to bring you this masterpiece. The game with its bullet hell elements combined with permadeath sounds like an exhilarating combo. If you have an interest in bullets and guns, well this is the game for you!

Four characters enter the Gungeon (gun-themed dungeon) to find a time machine that has the power to kill their past. Sounds a little offbeat, but to be fair, you are in a gun-themed dungeon trying to stay alive with bullets flying everywhere. There are four characters you can choose from, each with its own abilities. You can hook up another player for co-op as well to share the pain of surviving the Gungeon.

It’s a whole lot of nonsensical, bullet hell fun. You would need to dodge around while ending the lives of those who want you dead. There’s a tendency for you to be overwhelmed with the amount of activity that will be happening on your screen, but stay focused and you’ll be fine.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Photo Credits: Nicalis Inc

At first glance, you might think to yourself, “Poor baby.” But well, even if that’s true, there’s nothing you can do about it but try to survive and get out of the hell your mother has put you in. The Binding of Isaac is biblically cruel and gruesome but it is basically an essential game for you to go through when you’re thinking of starting with roguelikes. Think of it as a rite of passage of sorts.

There are other babies to unlock, stages of bullet hell to run through, and perhaps the best (or worst) part is that the stronger you get, the harder everything becomes. You might think that the other characters would be more powerful once you unlock them but that’s not necessarily the case either.

For example, there’s a ghost baby you’ll unlock that can only take ONE hit and it’s game over. Pair this with a bullet hell setting with a psycho overtly powerful boss and you’ll be crying along with Isaac by the end of the night.

Cadence of Hyrule

Cadence of Hyrule
Photo Credits: Brace Yourself Games

A spinoff crossover of the Legend of Zelda and the Curse of The Necrodancer, it’s easy to label this as a rip-off or a reskin of the indie title with Link’s face on it. But it isn’t. It’s a surprisingly good rhythm-based game with roguelike elements thrown into it.

The game combines the mechanics of Curse of The Necrodancer with the curiosity and thirst for adventure as the Zelda games. The idea is to travel across the world of Hyrule to defeat Octavo’s four champions and retrieve their instruments in order for everything to be restored back to normal. 

Your enemies move according to a certain pattern which you will have to memorize in order to claim their defeat. You need to do this without getting hit or else you’re dead and have to start from scratch. Essentially, every enemy you encounter is a whole new puzzle for you to solve.

Hades

Hades
Photo Credits: Supergiant Games

The one thing about roguelikes is that you have to be familiar with is dying. That’s what Hades is all about, and it is set in the underworld. A perfect setting for the task at hand. You play as Zagreus trying to successfully escape hell, but in order to do that, he needs to defeat everyone in his path. This includes his godly family members with their ungodly powers.

As Zagreus, you have the ability to wield six different weapons, each with four different variants. That’s a lot, but that’s what adds to the fun. The game plays from an isometric point of view, so you get to oversee battles just like a god handling pawns.

You’ll be dying a lot because you need to die for the story to progress, aside from the unforgiving difficulty of the game. Don’t be too harsh on yourself for every rerun, it’s just practice that will make you better. That’s the mindset roguelike players need to have to succeed!

Into The Breach

Into The Breach
Photo Credits: Subset Games

A turn-based strategy roguelike, Into The Breach, is one of the most accessible and easily approachable games out there if you’re looking for a roguelike to pick up. Everything is straightforward, so it doesn’t take much for you to master the gameplay mechanics. 

The game shows the actions your enemy is going to take and it is up to you to react perfectly to their move and protect the universe from an alien invasion. The thing about Into The Breach is, you would need to constantly think ahead of your enemies and plan your moves. 

Failure means restarting the game from scratch all over again, abandoning all of the progress you’ve made. Since everything in this game relies on you and your choices, failing to succeed hurts a little more, as it is caused by your very own choices. 

Slay The Spire

Slay The Spire
Photo Credits: MegaCrit

A card roguelike doesn’t sound very exciting at first glance but Slay The Spire should not be underestimated. Your goal is to reach the top of the spire, of course. But to do this, you would have to go through different levels, battling monsters along the way with new cards and equipment unlocked as you go. 

Sounds all good so far, but let’s not forget that it is a card-building game, so you will have to make strategic decisions as you go along. Cards will be offered to you and you can choose to add them to your deck or reject them. Each card affects one another as well as your chances of drawing other items in the game.

If you fail, you start over from scratch at the bottom of the tower. The game will definitely teach you a lot about deck composition and strategy making, so you will be able to make good decisions in other future games.

Tales of Maj’eyal

Tales of Maj'eyal
Photo Credits: Netcore Games

Based on resounding recommendations when it comes to roguelike for beginners, Tales of Maj’eyal comes in first place. Most roguelike players started with this game and it’s a game that they probably won’t forget for the rest of their lives, either. 

Tales of Maj’eyal is an open-source roguelike with a freemium model. This means that if you want to access exclusive content, you would need to pay, or ‘donate’ some money to the cause. It’s a game that’s more forgivable than most roguelikes on this list, so it’s a good starting point.

Basically, you build your character which is customizable throughout the length of the game, and journey through the world’s map finishing quests which gets harder as you go along. The best part is that nothing is permanent in this game, so you don’t have to worry about the minute details when it comes to deciding anything. Everything is customizable. 

Nearing death? Find an escape route. Death? Start over.

Brogue

Brogue
Photo Credits: Brian Walker

Most veteran roguelike players recommend playing Brogue if you’re new to the genre as it resembles the mechanics of most of the roguelikes we see today. Your task is to journey to the 26th floor of the dungeon, retrieve a magical amulet and return. If you’re a risk-taker, you could always journey further into the dungeon for a higher score and bragging rights.

Either way, there will be monsters in the way, and each of them is a menace to deal with. There are acidic monsters, snappy fish as you cross shallow waters, deadly gases, and more.

The gameplay is pretty simplistic and straightforward, everything is laid out for you to see and understand. It’s not a repetitive game, even if it feels like it on the surface. It’s a very interesting concept to grasp at first since everything seems foreign and unlike any other game you’ve played before. But Brogue is unique to itself, and something you should experience for yourself.

Final Thoughts

These are just some of the many roguelikes out there, and it seems like a fitting list for beginners. Roguelikes in general are tough and require a lot of patience, motivation, and tenacity, so don’t say we didn’t warn you! If you’re at a particularly difficult stage, take a breather before you continue. Most importantly, have fun!

Sarah Paul

Written by Sarah Paul

I dip my toes in all things nerdy. I started writing and never looked back! I'll write about anything under the sun if you give me the chance, but my loyalty currently lies with nerd culture.

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