Tried and Died: The Rogueliking Thread for Roguelikers

I love Rogue-lites. Dead Cells is one of my favorite games of the last generation. Everyone loves Spelunky and it‘s brilliant. But I’m not talking about those.

Let's talk Roguelikes.

I've tried a few of them over the years, but I started playing _Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup_ about 2 years ago (almost exactly two years ago according to my history file) after hearing a Retronauts episode about the genre. I have not ascended. I've made it to the final room and gotten the "Fabulous Orb of Zot" twice in my years of playing. And then I've gotten blown up by an Orb of Fire on the way up both times. 🤣

Here's what I like about DCSS specifically vs. the other Roguelikes I've tried:

  • - It's actively developed and they make interesting changes to the classes, species and gods. They have a documented design philosophy where the developers can examine proposed changes and see if it would add or detract from what they are trying to accomplish.
  • - The player classes radically change your game play experience. Some monsters are terrifying for one class and are trivialized by another. You're sure to find a monster that you previously underestimated when you play a new class.
  • - The religion system is super fun. It's almost like a sub-class and you can shore up weaknesses in your character or widen your options.
  • - I die all the time, and I feel like when I do, I should have tried something different.
  • - The difficulty curve is thoughtful. It's not perfect, but you do get into a rhythm. One of my (ironically) favorite things is mid-game you get a good set of tools and just start _tearing_ through enemies and feel totally overpowered... until you don't, get overconfident and you die!
  • - The online community is very supportive. The handful of times I've gotten into late levels I've had people drop into chat and cheer me on!
  • - The UI is thoughtful and you can play the whole game (with a few exceptions about learning how weapon math works) without spoilers entirely in the game. It has specific UI goals to reduce player repetition. It has auto-explore. I feel like I can play the game at the speed of my brain which is pretty cool.
  • - I like that it's zero cost, and runs in a web browser on anything from a Raspberry Pi to a modern workstation.
  • [Here's my player history]( so you can make fun of me.

    Other than playing a decent amount of the first Shiren game and getting nowhere in NetHack, I haven’t played that much of any roguelikes—but I do want to pop into this thread real quick to say that I am fascinated by how long some of these computer roguelikes have been in continuous development. Angband and NetHack are 30+ years old and still get updates! This isn’t really something you see to the same degree with other genres of games. They really feel like they come from a completely different culture than from what commercial games arose from.

    Love me some roguelikes. There‘s a great podcast about them called roguelike radio that’s also just a great game dev podcast as making and playing roguelikes are so intertwined

    As for favorites:

    DCSS: not much to add to the above
    Nethack: I hate almost every design choice but I keep coming back. Few games surprise you after hundreds of hours like Nethack
    Tangledeep: a mystery dungeon like with a lot of cool ideas and wonderful art and music
    Golden Krone Hotel: a great entry for roguelite fans, short enough and combat focused enough to feel like an action game, and a really well done vampire warewolf gimmick
    Caves of Qud: real open world feel, a lot of interesting narrative work, and an incredible character customization
    Cataclysm Dark Days Ahead: similar to Qud, but with Zombies
    Michael Brough's games (868 Hack, Cinco Paus): really fun solitare/puzzle like games. Small but engaging

    @MichaelDMcGrath#9368 868 Hack is my airplane game. I play it every time I fly

    Here is my only point of entry into the roguelike genre: Cave Noir for Game Boy. It‘s a small, self-contained feeling world where the big thing is item management, and you’re given goals like bringing back certain objects, which winds up giving you fewer slots for swords/healing/money/etc. It's completable but replayable without being punishing and is pretty much everything I look for in this kind of game. Not many other roguelikes have really resonated with me though, so your mileage may vary!

    @exodus#9388 I've only played a little Cave Noire but I love the cover art.


    On Switch too. I’m going to try it out.

    Several Roguelike updates:

  • 1.

    I picked up Shiren 5+ (thanks @Syzygy#10114) and have played played about 2 hours of it. Like all Roguelikes, it‘s inscrutable at the beginning. I don’t feel like I understand what the expectations of the gameplay loop are. My friend died in the dungeon and my pet ferret keeps reminding me that I should bring some kind of revival herb in case I see him, but I can‘t seem to locate one in the town’s shop. I‘m being told that I’m playing the game wrong by a ferret and it Feel Bad. Other than this, I can see myself really enjoying it if I can get past the initial knowledge gap.

  • 2.

    I picked up Caves of Qud on Itchio (per @MichaelDMcGrath#9368) and whooboy... I don't know if I made a bad decision getting it on Itchio instead of Steam, but it is so buggy that I can't play it. Item description strings have a bunch of "can't find object" errors for prefixes to the point I can't read the actual item's name.

  • 3.

    I have (Edit: _**HAD AS IN PAST TENSE BECAUSE OH DAMNIT I DIED IN THE REALM OF ZOT I AM NEVER PLAYING EVER AGAIN FOR LIKE, 2 DAYS.**_) a Gnoll Fighter in Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup who has collected two out of three runes you need to ascend which makes it an excellent run per my standards. I've also accomplished several "firsts" for me. I've never played a Gnoll. Gnoll's weirdness is that they opt out of the game's skill system so you can be pretty decent at most things, but not excellent at anything at all. I also poked into the [Vestibule of Hell](, defeated [Geryon ]( grabbed his [horn]( I'm currently clearing out [The Vaults]( for my third rune and then I'll try to ascend. I play on the []( server. The web server has a built-in viewer so you can watch any game in progress. I use the same handle, so if you ever see [this link live](, you can follow along!

  • @antillese#10343 huh. I have the Steam version and haven't run into that, but they patch so often that maybe something slipped passed qa?

    I‘m becoming increasingly frustrated at the opaqueness of some of the rules and UI of Shiren 5 specifically regarding pots. I understand that I’m supposed to break them to get the items out of most kinds of pots, but I can‘t seem to break them. I throw them and they go flying off into space and they don’t smash against a wall, they “disappear”. Am I doing something stupid?

    I've been Googling this for days but I can't seem to find either an actual manual for the game or the DS/Vita version, or an explanation of why some times (like in the tutorial) you an break a pot, and other times, you cripple yourself because you keep throwing items into the abyss.

    It‘s been a while since I’ve played but did you have some kind of bracelet equipped? It seems like there was one that causes the things you throw to penetrate what they hit (i.e. ideally for hitting more than one enemy with an attack) which would have that unfortunate side effect when throwing a pot. Kinda just working off distant memory though!

    The only Roguelike I‘ve ever played is Enter the Gungeon, which I’m not even entirely sure is a real Roguelike. It's also a Bullet Hell game and also a Shoot-em-up, according to the interwebs. Are there hard rules to what constitutes a Roguelike? Does the fact that it has the word “like” in the name suggest that we should think about the category as being broadly inclusive?

    BTW, I didn't love Enter the Gungeon, although I suggested it to two of my weirdo friends who love games that make them miserable, and they _loved_ it.

    @CidNight#11224 It's a long and needlessly divisive story. For about 30 years, roguelikes referred to games that were like rogue: ascii graphics tactical turned based grid based loot heavy procedurally generated permadeath dungeon crawling rpgs that ran in your command line. Then at the beginning of the 2010s games that took those design principles and applied them to action games, Spelunky and Binding of Isaac in particular, were marketed as roguelikes.

    This made the genre literally thousands of times as popular, and the people who wanted to talk about the older turnbased terminal games like Nethack and Angband found it hard to find places to talk about those games and not the Spelunkys of the world. So they actually had a convention and wrote a sort of manifesto, called The Berlin Interpretation, to lay out strict guidelines on what constituted a roguelike and what didn't. They were up front about it being their opinion, but it was seen as very silly by a lot of the roguelike community, old and new. A few years go by of people trying to redefine the new and old roguelike genres and as of now Roguelites has started catching on as the term for games like Gungeon and Spelunky, and Roguelike for games like Nethack and Angband. I'm sure that will change in a year to something different, but who knows.


    Wow, that’s intense! Any story with a manifesto in it is pretty serious business. Fascinating!

    @CidNight#11227 @MichaelDMcGrath I listened to a podcast ep recently on this subject. Basically it‘s this guy Raigan Burns, actually one of the designers on the N series of games, criticizing the use of the term “Roguelike” for Spelunky and its descendants, vs. some other people who think it’s OK to use it that way.

    As the episode demonstrates, at a certain point the conversation can't really move beyond "well why do you care so much dude" vs. "because they're NOT like Rogue!"

    Honestly it all seems hopelessly pedantic to me, though respect for Reagan for going on the pod 3 vs. 1 and shooting his shot. Raigan mostly seems irritated that Rogue is associated in any way with a game like Rogue Legacy, which is at the extreme end of the _lite_ spectrum of the genre in giving the player persistent health upgrades and stuff. Hades is similar.

    Actually just thinking now about how mad some people must have gotten about a "Roguelike" with persistent upgrades being nominated for Game of the Year at The Game Awards lol

    People get incredibly heated about it. I think it's a pretty absurd hill to die on, but a lot of people do kind of get personally invested in the genre because so many of its fans are also roguelike devs.

    20-25 years ago I put far too many hours in to playing ADOM, which probably ended up being my favourite of the classic roguelikes I tried/played. I never really liked Angband, Nethack was fun and had some interesting quirks, and Rogue had been improved upon by all of them in almost every way.

    I find the quibbling over the term to be thoroughly boring. Sometimes, people just want to talk about some games and don't need Neil deGrasse Tyson tapping them on the shoulder, saying "Well actually, according to the Berlin Interpretation one may only use that term when..."

    I am playing Shiren 5 for the first time and finding it slightly obtuse. I find myself running into enemies pretty frequently and am still getting used to the controls. The item pool seems pretty well put together, and I'm enjoying combat so far.

    I got forever turned off Shiren when I recognized the entire game loop is about upgrading your sword and shield and dying over and over. It‘s just an empty grind. Sure, Torneko is fun because it has a jrpg-esque story to go along with it, but I’ve had enough of Shiren. Please correct me if I'm wrong!

    The upgrading weapons loop is only there if you really want it (or for some of the more ridiculous post-game dungeons); you should be able to (and i recommend it) beat the main story in any of them going in with empty pockets ala a true roguelike.