We’ve all heard the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again.” Roguelites take that ancient bit of wisdom and run with it from start to finish. An individual run in these games is short but tough, and you’ll usually find yourself forced to restart several times before getting your first big win.
Players who like a challenge that can fit into the odd hours of their busy schedules will get lots of play out of these excellent PC roguelites. How many have you played? Share your favorite roguelite moments, from clutch wins to heartbreaking defeats.
With its flashy, far-future look and jaw-dropping pixel animations, Star Renegades is one of the best-looking games on this list. Backed up with combo-driven JRPG combat worthy of a triple-A title, it’s easy to see why this game got so many glowing reviews when it first came out.
Star Renegades has the vast replayability of any roguelite, backed up by procedurally-generated missions that ensure a unique story and experience with each run. Your enemies can even learn and adapt to your strategy, so you’ll have to be just as flexible!
With its notorious difficulty and gloomy theme, Darkest Dungeon is effectively the Dark Souls of the turn-based world. You’ll send dozens of unlucky adventurers to their deaths (or worse) in the pursuit of knowledge better left unknown.
While the sequel is a more streamlined, compact experience, the original Darkest Dungeon offers much more freedom in how you train, upgrade, and sacrifice your hapless heroes. It also has several DLC packs available, letting you add new challenges to the campaign… if you dare.
The best card-based battles are complex, challenging beasts. Monster Train makes them even deeper by making you manage several fights at once! Deploying and commanding your units to several lanes, you’ll have to use the cards in your hand to defend all of them at once.
Set against the backdrop of the final battle between Heaven and Hell, Monster Train tasks players with defending their infernal homeland. If you’ve done everything there is to do in Slay The Spire, this is a great game to try next.
The Last Spell
The Last Spell applies the roguelite formula to a desperate final stand. Hopelessly outnumbered, players need to carefully use what troops and resources they have to survive a monstrous onslaught each night.
The Last Spell offers high-powered abilities to help you turn the tide, but every battle will still be a challenge. It spent about a year in early access, so if you’ve been waiting for the full launch then it’s time to experience The Last Spell in all its glory.
Othercide has a creepy vibe, from its dilapidated cities to frightful monsters, made all the more unsettling by its black-and-white palette. If you’re looking for a game with stark, striking visuals, Othercide delivers.
The game’s skirmish-level combat uses timing, combo, and reaction abilities to allow for some impressive builds, which you’ll need to defeat its fearsome bosses. Othercide is a unique experience that’s well worth playing.
Previously titled Summoner’s Fate, Abalon is a classic top-down RPG experience with a tactical deck-building twist. It evokes classic dungeon crawlers but uses modern card battler mechanics to keep things new and interesting.
Abalon’s tabletop inspirations are proudly worn on its sleeve, with grid-based combat and event outcomes determined by a d20 roll. It also allows for heavy use of the terrain and environment in battle, giving players a chance to try creative strategies even in simple fights.
Slay The Spire
Possibly the most influential roguelite since Rogue itself, Slay The Spire is the game that popularized deck-building as a single-player mechanic. It’s the kind of game that belongs in every fan’s library.
With hundreds of cards and equipment to find, and dozens of possible events and bosses on each run, there’s always something new to discover in Slay The Spire. There have been a lot of card battlers since, but even the best of them still haven’t captured the magic of this modern classic.
Into the Breach
Time-looping sci-fi adventure Into The Breach puts you in command of a trio of skyscraper-sized mechs. As the world’s only hope against the swarm of kaiju called Vek, you’ll have to choose your pilots and gear carefully, then fight to protect as many civilian buildings as possible in each battle.
Into The Breach‘s bite-sized battles offer some of the deepest tactical gameplay around. Add in excellent pixel-art visuals, and it’s easy to see why Into The Breach is one of the best strategy games of the last ten years.
Trials of Fire
Trials Of Fire‘s dark fantasy world is part Diablo, part classic Warhammer, and puts players in a wasteland ravaged by a magical cataclysm. The hex-grid combat feels like a tabletop miniatures game, with cards and tokens making it easy to see what’s going on in the midst of battle.
Trials Of Fire has a ton to explore, from playable characters and their best builds to encounters, bosses, and legendary landmarks. If you missed this one when it first launched in 2021, there’s no time like the present to give it a go!
For The King
For The King is a rarity among roguelites, in that it’s designed to be played co-op by up to three adventurers! If D&D night gets cancelled, this is a great way to have some adventures with your friends anyway.
For The King II only recently released, so now is a great time to go back and try the original. Between the two games, there’s endless turn-based teamwork to test you and your party!
Banners of Ruin
Banners of Ruin is one of the many great indie titles published through Goblinz Studio. Blending the card-based gameplay of Slay The Spire with the positioning and teamwork of Darkest Dungeon, it’s sure to have lots to offer for players seeking a new tactical challenge.
Banners of Ruin takes place in a low-fantasy, anthropomorphic world reminiscent of Redwall. If you like the character designs in Armello, but wish they were a bit grittier, this should be right up your alley.
Loop Hero breaks down the roguelite formula to fit onto a single screen but maintains the depth and replayability that players love. Traveling along a repeating, circular path, you’ll play cards to alter the terrain and determine what you encounter on each loop.
Loop Hero was very well-received when it first launched in 2021, and now that it’s a few years old you can often find it on sale. That’s all the more reason to start your journey!
Deck-building battles typically come in a fantasy flavor, but Griftlands lets you shuffle, draw, and discard in a high-tech sci-fi setting! Every decision you make, right from picking your hero at the start of the run, can have unexpected consequences and surprising story paths.
Griftlands allows for negotiation as well as combat as a means of survival, and chances are that you’ll need to master both by the time you make it through your first successful run.
Inscryption was a breakout horror hit just in time for Halloween in 2021, and new players have lots of frightening surprises in store. This devious puzzler combines deck-building battles with point-and-click adventure for a chilling effect.
If you’re up for a scare, Inscryption will leave you shakingly satisfied. We’d expect nothing less from the creator of the equally bizarre Pony Island and The Hex!
Deck building roguelites often have fairly simple art and animation, all the better to focus on the gameplay. Beneath Oresa bucks that trend with some seriously slick combat visuals.
Whichever party members you choose, each maneuver is brought to life with action-packed, cinematic strikes. That extra touch makes the simple act of choosing and playing cards feel like so much more.
It’s a tale as old as time; giant, building-sized monsters have emerged, and only a handful of rusty mechs can stop them from wiping out humanity. Mech Armada takes the mecha-versus-kaiju action of Into The Breach and gives it a more traditional tactical approach.
There’s a huge array of weapons and modifications to give your mechs, and you’ll need to plan carefully. Regular battles are challenging enough, to say nothing of the titanic bosses at the end of each run!
As you might guess from the title, Wildfrost takes place in a frozen world of eternal winter. Each foray into the snows will help you develop more cards and expand your settlement, letting you take on greater and more dangerous challenges.
Wildfrost has a fun, cartoonish style that’s a breath of fresh air among blood-soaked grimdark dungeons. There’s plenty of replay value too, with daily challenges to keep you busy for as long as you like!
World of Horror
After years of early access, the excellently eerie World Of Horror has finally emerged in all its glory. Inspired by old PC games (seriously – think 8-inch floppy disks) and the manga style of Junji Ito, World Of Horror has the makings of a modern classic.
On each run, you’ll investigate the strange goings-on in the seaside town of Shiokawa, with each investigation consisting of a self-contained story. You’ll either stop an ancient evil from awakening or die trying.
DotAGE is a chaotic roguelite city-builder where you’ll constantly find yourself putting out fires, both literal and figurative. Building a medieval village in the midst of an ongoing apocalypse isn’t going to be easy, but maybe you can fulfill and ancient prophecy and survive against the odds!
DotAGE‘s bright, colorful pixel art is wonderfully at odds with the game’s themes, and it’s a twisted delight to see your villagers running around on fire or keeling over from the plague… even if that means a restart is probably on the horizon.
If you like the monstrous visuals of World Of Horror but want some more color and a bit more of a traditional RPG experience, Brutal Orchestra has what you need. Trapped in Purgatory after their untimely demise, the protagonist sets off to get revenge against the one who killed them.
Brutal Orchestra‘s setting and characters are inspired by the hellscapes of Hieronymous Bosch. If you’re going to depict a demonic realm, after all, you may as well take lessons from the best!
Astrea: Six Sided Oracles
Astrea is a recent release that deserves plenty of attention from deck-building fans. Building your deck out of dice rather than cards means that there’s even more uncertainty in this high-risk, high-reward RPG.
Astrea also stands out thanks to its damage system, where Purification and Corruption can be used not only to harm or heal, but also to lock or unlock units’ abilities. The best way to see how it works is to check it out – there’s a free demo, so give it a try!
Shogun Showdown is what you get if you mix Tinyfolks with Darkest Dungeon in a feudal Japan-inspired setting. Timing, positioning, and combos are all important as you and your foes move across the two-dimensional battlefield.
Shogun Showdown was released in early access earlier this summer, so hopefully, we’ll get to see the full version by this time next year. Given how it looks so far, it will be worth the wait!
Deepest Chamber: Resurrection
Deepest Chamber has an old-school fantasy feel to it, delving dungeons that feel straight out of the golden age of PC RPGs. Its deckbuilding combat adds a decidedly modern touch, though.
Choosing the right cards won’t be enough – you’ll have to find ways to boost and enhance your existing cards. Deepest Chamber came out of early access very recently, so now is a great time to try it out.
If you’re the kind of player who spends half an hour organizing your inventory for optimal efficiency or aesthetics, Backpack Hero turns your favorite unofficial minigame into the main course. Combat relies on organizing your equipment so that you can get the gear you need at a moment’s notice in combat!
Backpack Hero is a great example of why creative, unexpected indie games are so important. Newly released after an early access period, the definitive version is now available.
Cobalt Core combines turn-based deck-builders with classic top-down shoot-em-ups. Commanding your spaceship and intrepid crew, you’ll play cards to battle any hostiles you encounter. However, you’ll also need to move your ship to line up shots and dodge incoming fire!
With cute, pixelated anthropomorphic characters, Cobalt Core is a colorful, exciting sci-fi adventure. It’s also brand new, so you can be one of the first to try it out!