What is a Rogue One
The rogue based genre is one of my favourites to date when it comes to modern game releases. The reason I feel this way is I grew up on a steady video game diet of arcade based games. Games that you could theoretically finish within thirty minutes. But with a high bar of difficulty, this was very unlikely. However, thanks to the engaging gameplay of the game itself I couldn’t help but try over and over even if it led to failure. The rogue genre itself is derived from a very old video game literally titled Rogue, where failure in the game meant you lost all your progress and you began again from the start. Yet it would also exhibit some random generation to make each experience new.
This is the foundation of the sub-genre rogue-like, there is also the rogue-lite which has the same idea in principle but usually, the game will allow the player to upgrade their abilities between runs making each new attempt just a little bit more manageable. Rogue-lite tend to be more accessible to gamers new to this genre with the rogue-like being much more difficult and an acquired taste.
Right, that’s the explanation out of the way. Time to share the best ones reviewed on the site this year.
UnderMine – rogue-lite
Undermine is a delightful top town tour into the dungeons as you search for the gold and mysteries within. Of course, these mines are filled with all sorts of baddies, some of which feel far too adorable for their own good. Your handy pickaxe can mine for gold, as well as make a very useful weapon against the terrors that may await you. There are plenty of abilities and perks to discover.
Lots of items to unlock between runs and of course, a lot of secrets to discover the more you play. Undermine really just knocked it out of the park as one of the most entertaining single-player rogue-lite this year on Nintendo Switch. Easy to pick up for most gamers and very hard to put down as you can see in our review here.
Dreamscaper – rogue-lite
A clever concept for a rogue-lite. Each run has you sink into your dreams to hack and slash your way through the nightmares within. There are various weapons available to you each with its own gameplay style, from swords to more unusual choices like boxing gloves. There are also several abilities to discover and many weird and wonderful enemies and bosses to encounter. It is a dream after all.
Between runs, the game takes a more relaxed approach to gameplay allowing the player to not only upgrade various abilities but visit various locations around the city, build relationships with NPCs and if you feel like being a really nice person you can give them a gift. To top it off it has a beautiful art style and score. Want to know more? I reviewed it here.
Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos – rogue-lite
If you are a fan of the classic Zelda games like a Link to the Past then have I got the rogue-lite recommendation for you. Rogue Heroes lets you play as multiple classics as you explore an open world, raid a variety of randomly generated dungeons while looking to grab as many gems as possible. Between runs, you can level up, pretty much every perk possible on your character from various weapons abilities to general perks.
This game will spoil you with skill trees. You can also build up your town to unlock more vendors and even do a spot of farming because why not? To top off the experience you can play this game with up to four players locally or online. Sadly you can’t mix between the two. I guess you could call this a Zelda rogue-lite. More on the game in this review.
Road 96 – rogue-lite
Perhaps action-style gameplay is not your thing and you’re more into a game’s narrative? Road 96 accomplishes a feat that seems impossible on paper, mixing rogue-lite design with storytelling. You play the game from the perspective of a randomly generated teen on a mission to get to the border and escape the country.
Along the way, you’ll meet all sorts of colourful characters whose stories you will learn more about with each subsequent run. As you progress you will gradually unlock new abilities, like computer hacking and lock picking which will transfer to the next run whether you succeed or not. If you’re a fan of games like the Tell Tales Walking Dead series or Life is Strange this game comes highly recommended. It also has an absolutely brilliant soundtrack. I gave it our highest score in my review, which you can find here.
Evertried – rogue-lite (just)
Evertried is the rogue-lite for the gamer that likes things that move at a slower pace. Like the traditional rogue style dungeon crawlers, with every move, you make the enemy makes a move after. The difference here is you can see all the enemies on-screen and if you’re really smart you can lure enemies into traps and even get them to damage each other. The reason I say is just about a rogue-lite is there are a few abilities that can be upgraded and carried forward into further runs. On reviewing I kinda felt this was more rogue-like. It can probably be argued both ways. A great turn-based game to play in small gaming bursts. Find my review here.
Skul: The Hero Slayer – rogue-lite
Skul is the little skeleton that could. A 2D action based rogue-lite that makes its mark by offering a silly amount of alternate skulls which transform your character into various different forms. You can transform into ninjas, wolves, clowns, gunslingers the list seems pretty endless. You can even upgrade these skulls to transform into a more powerful form. This game does require a lot of button mashing, but, with a distinct pixel art style and gameplay that can vary almost every run Skul really cements itself as one of the most notable hidden gems in this list.
Skeletal Avenger – rogue-lite
Who would have thought we would see two rogue-lite games with skeleton protagonists in one year. Skeletal Avenger is an isometric dungeon crawler where you play a skeleton on a quest for vengeance. As described in my review the graphics may include some pretty bad cosplay style enemies but this is a very entertaining game to play alone or with up to four players locally. There are lots of weapons to discover and perks to unlock. You can also throw your head at enemies as a handy projectile. It’s a game that may look a little odd but it sure does excel in its gameplay as you can read in this review.
Spelunky 1 & 2 – rogue-like
Spelunky to me is probably still the King of the rogue-like games. An incredibly brutal but rewarding game for those that dare dive into its depths. I have been playing the first Spelunky game as a small tradition to myself every Christmas and I have still not seen everything this game has to offer. Every run feels different and your reflexes will constantly be tested against enemies and hazards. One small slip and it’s over, but you’ll be back. Both the original (review here) and the sequel are worth visiting and you can enjoy the games alone or in local co-op (online is also available in Spelunky 2)
Residual – rogue-like
For the fans of exploration games that like crafting and scanning various things on unknown planets. Residual is the 2D pixelated adventure well suited to the gamer that wants to just explore and discover at a nice casual pace without the fear of threat. Every planet you visit has its own unique design with various animals and its own specific day and night cycle which will alter your approach to the game’s survival elements. Find out more in the review here.
Invirium – rogue-like
Invirium was not the best rogue-like I played this year. But boy did I respect what the developers were attempting with this concept. You play as a white blood cell, your mission, to swim from room to room through blood vessels to destroy the various bacteria, fungus and viruses within. Top marks for originality and you can even learn a little about diseases in the game’s codex. The only trouble is the game, even today still feels like it could do with some patching to iron out its kinks. If you’re looking for something very different be sure to keep an eye on this. The developers have informed me patches are incoming for this game so fingers crossed. Meanwhile, our review is here.