It can be hard nowadays to find time for games; between work and family duties, the idea of surfing through a 20+ hours RPG is scary. Fortunately, there’s an entire category that goes under the Roguelite tag – offering us short and intense sessions in front of the monitor.
What is a Roguelite?
These are games where defeat is part of progression. Your hero and/or heroes will often die; but as they return to life they’ll reach new worlds, and unlock characters, items, upgrades etc.
Among the most popular examples of a roguelite is Slay the Spire, having opened the doors to a true invasion of titles inspired by this Mega Crit Games classic – those that have innovated and evolved the genre.
And there really is a lot of innovation happening in the genre. While Slay the Spire features card-based combat, today many turn-based roguelites expand the system with tactical battles and RPG elements. A genre is going in many interesting directions at once, while preserving the Play-Unlock-Die-Repeat formula.
Why this list?
This article presents 10 Turn-Based Roguelites taken from my Steam library that offer faster game sessions. As relaxing as they are nerve-wracking, with stories that only complement the gameplay; in short, experiences suitable for those who don’t have much time to devote to video games.
Top 10 Turn-Based Roguelite Games to play in 2022
Many roguelites here are currently in Early Access – but I can assure you, they are rich in content and in a very solid state. The original list was rather long, and so I’ve split it into two parts – that could become many more in the future. So – here are 10 of the Best Turn-Based Roguelites I’ve played recently and highly recommend.
The Hand of Merlin
This tactical roguelite RPG offers an undeniably cool blend of Arthurian legend, medieval history, and cosmic horror. The world is on the precipice of destruction across multiple realities, and each run is an attempt to save just one parallel universe. This means that the characters, enemies, and overall world situation will be different each game.
Players command three heroes as they make a dangerous journey across Europe. The combat makes use of cover, combos, and relentless enemies to make each encounter a challenge. If you enjoyed King Arthur: Knight’s Tale then The Hand Of Merlin is a fantastic follow-up.
Get The Hand Of Merlin on Steam
Get The Hand Of Merlin on Epic
Dark Quest: Board Game
The sword-and-sorcery world of Dark Quest is given a tabletop-style makeover in Dark Quest: Board Game. This version takes a deck-building approach to the series’ tactical combat, and a roll of the dice could be all it takes to seal a hero’s fate.
Dark Quest: Board Game recently entered Early Access, and it has something to offer for any RPG fan. Whether you’re into modern games like Slay The Spire and Darkest Dungeon or prefer old-school classics like the board game HeroQuest, chances are you’ll find something to like in Brain Seal‘s newest offering.
Get Dark Quest: Board Game on Steam
Terminus: Zombie Survivors
Korean solo developer Ingeon Games has brought classic Resident Evil‘s brand of slow-burn survival horror to turn-based gaming. As a lone survivor caught in the middle of a zombie outbreak, you’ll need to keep yourself healthy and safe as you seek shelter at Terminus. Hunger, cold, and exhaustion take a toll on your character each turn, so you only have a limited time before you succumb.
The map and available supplies are always different, so strategies that worked on one run may not be useful in another. Of course, you’ll also have to contend with the undead – a single bite from a zombie means it’s game over.
Get Terminus: Zombie Survivors on Steam
The best roguelites promise a different experience with each playthrough, and this early-access title from Lioncode Games has the potential to provide nearly-infinite variations. Players command a small squadron of mechs in tactical battles against the monstrous Swarm. Not only is the terrain and enemy force always changing, but so are the available mechs and parts.
Mech Armada offers more than just endless hordes of alien beasts to battle. The game also includes enormous bosses that will require expertly-designed mechs and smart combat decisions to defeat. How many other games let you fight a kaiju that actually feels like a kaiju?
Paths and Danger
Fans of Battle Brothers‘ simplified visuals and brutal combat should have lots of fun with GoldenGod Games‘ Paths And Danger. Rather than expendable mercenaries on an endless quest for coin, this time the player is in command of a group of bona fide fantasy heroes. They’re still mortal, of course, so it’s up to you and the decisions you make to keep them alive.
The heroes will accept several quests over the course of a run, getting ever closer to unraveling the mystery at the center of the game. Finding new recruits for the party and the gear necessary to keep them alive requires hard-earned gold. If the party is met with defeat, you can always start over.
Forward: Escape the Fold
This fast, simplified dungeon crawler roguelite from developer Two Tiny Dice is perfect for gamers with limited time. The dungeon and all of its contents – monsters, treasure, and events – are represented by a column of cards in front of the hero. All you have to do is select which of the three nearest cards you want to explore next!
Nothing’s ever that easy, of course – while it’s a simple choice between claiming an enchanted sword or fighting a bloodthirsty ogre, it’s much harder to decide which of three powerful beasts you want to risk life and limb against. Until you reach the end of the dungeon, the choices you make are permanent. All you can do is keep moving Forward.
Get Forward: Escape The Fold on Steam
Get Forward: Escape The Fold on itch.io
For The Warp
Roguelite deckbuilders tend to have a fantasy theme, but Massive Galaxy Studios‘ For The Warp brings the genre into good old space opera. Upgrades for your ship are purchased as cards, which are drawn from your deck during interstellar engagements.
The game has a very reasonable price tag, making it a great choice for gamers on a budget. Best of all, its backgrounds and ship designs are a stunning display of colorful pixel art that’s not to be missed.
The Last Spell
Ishtar Games‘ heavy metal melee The Last Spell is generating a fair amount of buzz, and with good reason. It’s still in Early Access but is proving to be worth the hype. Players are charged with defending a town against the hordes of monsters that appear each night, using powerful units and spells.
When we say the town comes under attack by a horde, that’s not an exaggeration. Your forces will be vastly outnumbered at all times, so you’ll need barricades aplenty to keep your heroes from being overwhelmed. Whether you win or lose, you’ll do so to the game’s incredible soundtrack, which makes The Last Spell a great purchase on its own.
Othercide‘s haunting visuals and creepy monsters are part of a surreal quest to defeat an entity called Suffering. Players command the Daughters, shattered aspects of a fallen hero, using their unique class abilities and personal traits to gain an advantage in battle. The game’s cooldown-based initiative system means that bigger attacks can give enemies plenty of opportunities to swing back.
Othercide requires sacrifice, as Daughters cannot heal between battles unless another Daughter is willingly given up. Choosing who to keep can be tough, as you’ll need your best warriors to defeat the game’s frighteningly powerful bosses.
Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate
Shotgun King turns chess into a roguelite, pitting a single King against an entire board of enemy pieces. As you may have guessed from the title, the King is equipped with a shotgun to even the odds. Moving, shooting, and reloading one space at a time, you’ll have to eliminate the opposing chess pieces by any means necessary.
As the boards become tougher and tougher (including the addition of enormous boss pieces) you’ll gain upgrades and cards to help you out. Maybe the King can move like a Rook for a turn, or get a damage boost to his shotgun for bringing down hard targets. It’s a fun twist on chess, so check it out!
Get Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate on Steam
Get Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate on itch.io
Reach me on Twitter and let me know what you think about these 10 Roguelites. I’m going to play a lot of them during my live streams. It’s a new thing that started recently, and I’m having a ton of fun doing them. See you there every Thursday and Sunday Morning 7:30 a.m. CET on Twitch, YouTube and Facebook Gaming.
Wish you the best