I used to play DCSS quite a lot but tapered off around when they took out dwarves; not because of that one thing, per se, but in aggregate I tend not to like their design philosophy: it reminds me of big tech companies’ insistence on change and iteration for its own sake (and at the loss of things that were working fine), and on the development side the community comes across as being actively opposed to fantasy cliches in a way that I find personally annoying.
Saying that, I know those are niche complaints, and it is indeed an excellent game, worthy of praise especially for being approachable to newcomers to the genre and on the technical end: I played plenty runs of DCSS while homeless at public libraries.
I have a lot of experience so I’m not sure where to begin, but other recurring thoughts of mine:
- I have love-hate respect for the more obtuse puzzle-like end of the spectrum such as Angband; they tickle me in a way similar to Tower of Druaga, with how in that corner of a small sub-genre actual substantive “secrets” can still exist post-internet.
- It’s hard NOT to bring up the wider spread of “rogue-lite” influence these days, but I am also fond of games like Elona or Azure Dreams, or arguably Dwarf Fortress, that hew closer to the traditional definition while bringing in other elements. “Rogue-like with ___ elements” instead of “___ with rogue-like elements”. My personal game of the decade also falls in this category and I had been thinking of making a big post about it before the years’ end— don’t know if it’ll sustain its own thread or if I should put it here. . .
- My favorites are mostly the Japanese console line of descent, the “mystery dungeon-likes”. Admittedly half my reason comes from having started this genre when very few English PC RLs had graphics; the other, which I’ve refined over time, has to do with what I like best about the genre, which is “solving problems by applying the overlap of a random set of tools”, or more pithily “arcade RPG” and for me, this seems best served in a certain range of complexity, neither too simple nor the monstrous amalgamations of systems seen on classic PC RLs. I can win 99% of Shiren the Wanderer seeds and in hundreds of clears it’s never quite the same despite having relatively narrow variables and RNG.