Tried and Died: The Rogueliking Thread for Roguelikers

I‘ve played a ton of dungeon crawlers and roguelike dungeon crawlers. It’s a fun genre to pick up blind and dive right in. Most of them won‘t get in your way with any bs.

@Syzygy haha, DCSS + homelessness = win. it’s always there for you. I got furthest and felt de riddim with a Dwarf. I did a lot of runs with Formicid and Merfolk. I want to do better and have a cool adventure with my guy but it‘s just so impregnable lol.

  • - I’ve gotten to the end of Shiren once. Would do it again. Very exciting. I am waiting for the Gameboy versions to be translated. The N64 and Dreamcast sequels would be cool too. I started playing the one for Wii, it's surprisingly good like all the rest.
  • - Same with Torneko. And I loved him so much I played Dragon Quest IV on NES and really enjoyed it too! Will play the gba and ps1 games someday. Love Him.
  • - I've dipped into Yangus Mystery Dungeon, going to give it a go after I finish DQ8 this week. In DQ8 Yangus refers to other adventures he's had as a kid, which was a really great set up for this spinoff. Also I can sort of tell what's going on without reading Japanese.
  • - I got super far into Etrian Odyssey Mystery Dungeon, it's also fantastical. I just got bored but may revisit. I just prefer pixel graphics over 3D for that sort of thing.
  • - I got Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Red so I have a Mystery Dungeon on my Micro. It's super dumb baby status, but, I mean, it's kind of alright for when I really wanna turn off my brain or when I'm only half paying attention to it.
  • - POWDER.gba is a more classic style homebrew roguelike I play on my everdrive in quick spurts.
  • - I'm going to try one called IVAN pretty soon
  • - Chocobo Mystery Dungeon is also a game! And it's very good, very cutesy though, recommended for anyone familiar with FF lore.
  • - Gave Nightmare of Druaga a shot, will commit one day, it's just not top of my list of priorities... Especially since playing in english means I'd want to have a list of the marquee hints beside me for reference at all times....
  • - I have a complete in box copy of Cave Noire and I intend to beat it
  • @bankbank#11336 sounds like someone else's idea of "optimal play" ruined the game for you. haha. Just give it a blind try.

    @Syzygy this is a dirty copy. it's dirty because i threw it up just now.

    I would post a photo of my cave noire box but its super buried right now. I also have shiren and torneko cib but that's less glorious imho.

    I intended to write up a little post about this topic already, so how convenient that there's a thread!

    Regarding Shiren 5, I haven't played it really, but the tutorials (which are fully optional so also fully missable) seem really useful for exploring its more esoteric mechanics, many of which are not optional!

    But what I really wanted to say was that this year was the first year I actually played rougelikes. I always had this vague idea that they weren't for me, but the release of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX made it really easy to put aside my misgivings and give the whole thing a try, and I have to say, **I loved this game**.

    I didn't anticipate that at all. I really thought at best it would be OK, but I totally fell for it. It's gorgeous and the soundtrack is really nice, which helps in the whole "vibe building" aspect, but overall, it's the gameplay that won me over. My impression of the game was "arcade Final Fantasy Tactics" which is NOT what I was expecting but definitely what I got. I love that it's fast-paced but you can be slow and thoughtful whenever you want. I love that it's very mechanics/gameplay based and not just a big mess of half-baked "basically functional" mechanics/ideas like big name RPGs (FF7R I am looking at you!)

    Following on from that great success, I took a crack at Void Terrarium which I am LOVING. It has a wonderful mood (you play as a robot, the only speaking character is a demented AI that destroyed humanity, and the goal of the game is to save what is quite possibly the last living human) but it also builds on the Mystery Dungeon framework in very interesting ways. From my perspective, the two main ways are (A) in that it blends a virtual pet/raising sim element and (B) that it doesn't penalize you so harshly for failure, so you can come to grips with the challenge really nicely and you always feel like you're inching forward in the game.

    And the soundtrack is completely killer. Really, really good, kind of PS1/DC era electronic music. Just lovely.

    Overall I recommend this one super highly. I got it for $15 on the eShop during a sale (it is also on PS4) and I'm sure it'll go back on sale sooner or later (I think it's regularly $30.)

    Now that I am nearing the end of it I am definitely looking forward to giving Shiren 5 a go, too! Though probably not immediately as I don't tend to do the same genre back-to-back so it doesn't start to feel stale to me. FWIW, I really like what I've seen of it (and I have to admit, the DS-in-HD aesthetic really just ends up looking like a Saturn game to me in a way that really makes me go yeaaaaah)


    Yeah, but you can search for it on shops (and pronounce it) as Void Terrarium, so.

    Speaking of eShop Roguelikes I can‘t really say enough good things about Tangledeep. Easily my favorite on the Switch, great combat, great graphics, great soundtrack (by Secret of Mana’s Hiroki Kikuta), and the control scheme is very optimized for controllers. Just an incredible game.

    I prefer my “traditional” roguelikes to be as simple as possible. If the mechanics or customization get too complex, I find myself less interested in the gratification loop. For that reason I adore Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja. The charming story & the want to beat a damn dungeon is enough to keep me going. I like that the only things I have to manage are gear & my character's HP. Either I’m smart with my gear or I’m not. Either I die or I don’t.
    This one is dope, trust me. I got this one in 2014 and they have kept updating it! I tried every rogue like dungeon crawler and decides this one was best and got super addicted and did multiple full campaigns.
    What you will see 99% of the time is the gameplay field and the inventory screen! Also has extremely chill music. Like when a fight happens in the woods, the woods fight theme comes in, and your most dexterous party member will be useful.
    There was a while where my two games were demon's souls on a crt and this on my iPhone 6.
    I even made a song about it! Lol

    I like Roguelikes so much I developed one (already plugged it in the intro thread if anyone wants to look it up). In my mind the key design idea of a roguelike is that your character has a surface area (4 squares or 8 squares depending on whether you allow diagonals). Each slot on the surface area of the character is a channel for damage to enter the player and things are usually balanced such that you can easily survive if you have only one channel pumping damage in but death is almost inevitable if you have more than two channels.

    Thus the ur-mechanic in a roguelike is the manipulation of spatial relations between the player and the monsters. In many roguelikes this fundamental mechanic is then embellished upon: items push monsters around, teleport the player, swap places with monsters, etc. New monsters do interesting things with space. The recognition that the spatial elements of the game are fundamental is what drives designers to reify what might otherwise be purely menu based mechanics spatially (thus shops are implemented in Shiren as physical places where the mechanics can be played with).

    Shiren (DS/SNES) really is the perfect roguelike from this point of view. You have a few stages to learn the basics of the spatial gameplay (hide in hallways, don't get surrounded) and to accumulate various items which conjugate those mechanics in different ways. Then the DPS of the monsters starts ramping up so that the latter part of the game becomes almost exclusively about using these items and their effects to escape from the fundamentally deadly situation of being surrounded.

    Shiren SNES is a master class in game design: no element of the game is wasted and no decision is completely binary. Each mechanic introduced by the designers is leaned up against other mechanics. For instance: traps sometimes rot riceballs and to protect yourself you should put them in a jar. But if all your riceballs are in a jar, its easy for them to be stolen so the decision isn't obvious or static. In a similar vein, rotten riceballs still refill hunger but cause other status effects. A less perfectly designed game would just destroy the riceball but in Shiren no game mechanic is wasted - everything presents an interesting decision.

    Vita Shiren is ok. Some of this survives. But fundamentally the game is tuned for you to slowly build up your equipment over many runs. Inevitably you can win just be virtue of having a very powerful set of equipment. This may appeal to some players but it removes the pressure on the game designer to really tune the mechanics of the game and I think in the end the result is not as good, though perhaps it is more accessible and more feasible to design such a game.

    Anyway, if anyone wants a copy of Corpse Wizard for free, just DM me and I'll send you a code.


    Just another related thought. I spend (or spent, before having a kid) a lot of time discussing game design at the Keith Burgun game design community. And it seems like the requirement that we _sell_ games at this current moment radically distorts the process of game design. Keith used to say things like "If you presented Go at a game design conference you'd get laughed off the stage" and what he meant was that the initial learning experience of Go is sufficiently alienating that it couldn't possibly succeed in the current attention/actual economy.

    And yet the current attention/actual economy is a historical accident. This is interesting to me: can we ever really separate the discipline of game design from the conditions of culture? It seems intuitively obvious to me that we can but deeper reflection makes me wonder.

    Since I got a phone that does Picture in Picture multitasking for the first time, I’ve dropped everything and become addicted to this game again, but while also watching twitch streams over top of it since the screen has so much negative space LOL!

    Also found the home page for it, finally.

    This is a pic of where my guys were waiting while the Gnoll went in to search the cave. He didn't come back.

    Alright peeps, you helped me before, will you be able to help me again??

    I have been stuck since Christmas on this room in Shiren 5. It’s Floor 5 of the Tower of the Future.


    I can’t seem to get across to the other side.

    In other floors I’ve seen tiled rooms like this where the tiles slide and I can get across, but these tiles don’t move. I tried looking for warp traps or spring traps but there aren’t any on the floor. I’ve also tried swinging my sword at the walls in the rooms because I saw something about secret passages in past games, but there isn’t much documentation for _Shiren 5_ in English.

    This is the third or so time I have encountered a room like this. It effectively soft-locks as I have to abandon my game and die.

    This has killed my excitement for the game. I really want to like this game but I keep running into stuff like this.

    Anyone have any idea?


    Posted this in the help thread.:

    OK, so this is self closed, but it took two months of coming back to it. Turns out it was a sliding tile room, but the tiles slide super slowly. I decided to go up to the edge of the room and just hold on the wait button. The monsters jiggled around a lot and then... a tile moved in the back! So I waited more and more and eventually a tile slid over to where I could step on it. I dunno, I’m kinda annoyed about it but also very excited that I actually get to play the game.

    Rogue-like thread specific content:
    I still have very mixed and complicated opinions on _Shiren 5_. I like the aesthetic and the Meta-story. The game needs much more manual and tutorial than it gives you. There are a lot of mechanics that I didn’t feel like I understood week enough to be asked to use them.

  • - I still don’t understand when I will be able to get back to town without beating the game.
  • - I don’t understand item identification.
  • - I don’t understand the mixing pot in town.
  • - I don’t understand the night cycle mechanics and abilities (but I am just getting to floors that even use them)
  • - I don’t understand the party slots or why you would ever leave town without a party and thus why your cat friend just sits around and waits for you instead of meeting you for adventures.
  • Cool game, but has some UI/design flaws if I am a huge fan of the genre and can’t get into it.

    In Shiren to me party members are more of a hindrance than a help, something you bring along to complete a quest/unlock something else more than to have as backup. The main reason for that is since you can‘t control them they’re just another element of randomness that can screw you over, whether that's them getting confused and attacking you or getting killed by an enemy which then levels that enemy up making it much more dangerous (and right on top of you).


    You have already gone above and beyond. Go get that refund!!

    Have I posted in here that I want Nightmare of Druaga: Fushigino Dungeon (And yes I know the title should just get retranslated too lol) to get a rerelease or remaster of some sort? Ok, I‘m posting in here that I want it to get rereleased. It needs it with a better translation, the hints restored and maybe a slight graphics overhaul. I really liked that game. It was one of the harder Mystery Dungeon games to play, however the challenge wasn’t overbearing. Took me a second to find a YT link without someone jabbering over the video but please have a look.

    @RoryDropkick#18193 I would prefer a patch to the original!

    I have tried very hard to push through and get, “unstuck” and actually into Shiren 5 - and it worked! But whoa, do I have some problems with this game!

    It's been interesting playing _Shiren_ after having played Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup quite a bit for the last several years especially since they are so philosophically different based on their platforms. Ultimately, _Shiren's_ new player experience and on-boarding is terrible. The game throws a bunch of systems at you all at once and you need to be fluent in them to make progress. The tutorial dungeons give you information that simply doesn't apply for so long it doesn't matter. I was initially all wound up about seals and curses when playing and they just don't come up until the second half of the dungeon.

    This is contrasted to _Crawl_ where for the first six months of the game, I didn't understand the game's skill system, and it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the game. The auto-skill system is turned on by default, you have to go turn it off to get manual skills and while it's not optimal, I suspect you could collect three runes, get the orb, and win the game without interacting with the skills system in _Crawl_.

    First, I think the digital manual is so insufficient as to be actively misleading. This may be unfair or par for the course with a remake of a remake of a 10 year old Vita game, but there are a lot of mechanics that aren't explained in the manual.

    I feel like _Shiren's_ on-boarding troubles are ironically compounded by the meta-progression in the game, something that _Crawl_ doesn't have in any way at all. I couldn't progress for a while because Jirochi died in the game and I needed to bring him a healing item. But I couldn't buy a healing item to bring into the dungeon (or I couldn't figure out where in the village to buy said item). I also got stuck because I couldn't break pots because I didn't know I had a cannon arm bracelet equipped over several runs (because I couldn't identify it).

    Speaking of, I still don't like, or I do not understand the item identification system. Some items are identified on equip, some items are not, and it's not even clear to the player what the state of the item is. I am not sure if IDs persist across runs or not. New Items you craft all seem to be pre-IDed, but random bracelets don't seem to be IDed on equip and need a scroll - which are very very rare.

    So I've come to like _Shiren_ a fair amount, or at least have been playing it quite a bit, but I don't know if I would recommend it. On one hand, it's an amazing and interesting rogue-like with all the fun emergent storytelling that the genre is known for with fantastic pixel graphics. On the otherhand, it's infuriating to learn and you need to be a strange kind of stubborn to overcome what it asks you to do.

    Finally, I'm in the top-20 of all English-language speaking _Shiren 5_ players. One of you needs to one-up me!

    Many years ago I had a remarkably successful run (successful for me, I got one rune), and I shared the game details online.

    The first response I got was a guy who was floored that I had gotten that far using the auto-leveling system, was even like "you know this could make for a fun challenge, actually. Oh, also is there a reason you haven't equipped your armor?"

    Reader, there was no reason. I didn't realize I hadn't been wearing it.
    And that how I learned that I shouldn't be using the auto-leveling, and after that the game lost some of its charm for me.

    I started playing Brogue recently and was surprised how good it is. It simplifies a lot of the stuff in roguelikes so it's easy/fun to learn, but it still feels interesting like traditional rls. Would recommend it.

    Just sitting here staring at this window…