Roguelikes constitute an interesting sub-genre. Known for extremely minimal graphics but extremely complex gameplay, they are games which ones plays forever, essentially, returning again and again over the course of one’s lifetime. Most players will never win, but the big trick of the roguelike is that they are fun to lose. Many roguelikes are never finished being made, either, with constant and endless updates from what is often a community of developers. Rare is the roguelike that reaches v1.0, unless the developer(s) are starting with v1.0 and subsequently releasing v1.1, and so on. Far more often a roguelike is abandoned well before reaching the developer’s vision.
The most interesting thing about them, to me, is how differently I play them compared to other games. With a typical single-player game, I will start and work methodically through until the end, and then move to another game. But roguelikes are never my “main” game, they are always things that I play on the side, during short breaks in other activities, or for longer stretches when I simply need a change of pace. They do not require a significant time investment for each playing session, nor do they have any long narratives that I will lose track of if I don’t play for a few weeks (or months). They’re also great for traveling as they usually run on anything, are completely turn-based so I am free to get distracted without consequence, and they (usually) have no sound so I don’t have to worry about annoying other people. Also, the vast majority of them are free.
Unfortunately, roguelikes are notoriously difficult to get into, often having dreadful user interfaces and steep learning curves. I’m hoping to convince more players that they’re worth trying out.
With this introductory post I will talk a little about the history of roguelikes, and describe what they are and how they’ve evolved. In later posts I will highlight some of my favorites, from easily accessible games for first-timers to deep, complex ones to try once you’re hooked. Read on!