This morning I decided to prepare a list with the best traditional roguelike RPGs with turn-based mechanics. I will listen to the community suggestions to update the list often. Before starting, however, let’s see what we mean by roguelike. Over the years, the term roguelike has changed a bit, also indicating action and platform games like Spelunky, Roguelike Legacy, The Binding of Isaac etc. as long as they had procedurally generated elements and perhaps the permanent death of the hero.
But in my list, I returned to the traditional meaning of the word roguelike and chose the games that took all the pure elements of this genre. Roguelike is a term that indicates a particular type of role-playing video games, characterized by common elements: random maps, permanent death, and turn-based movements. The name of the genre refers to Rogue, a 1980 video game based on the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.
Originally the titles of this genre were characterized by a simple interface created by ASCII characters, but recently many titles, have managed to apply the same dynamics without sacrificing the graphic appearance. Typically the roguelike are in a fantasy setting, and the player plays a character intent on exploring dungeons, killing monsters, collecting various objects and interacting with the environment, nevertheless many developers have managed to transpose the same style of play even in science-fiction settings.
In this list of the best turn-based roguelike RPGs, I have included only those with graphic elements and not those in ASCII. I will prepare a second list for hardcore gamers in the next days where I will only add ASCII games. In any case, these are the elements that characterize all the games below:
- Turn-based mechanics.
- Free exploration.
- Procedurally generated dungeons.
- Permanent death.
- ..and many objects that can be created, equipped and used.
For each game on the list, you will find a short description, a video trailer, and links to developers website, their steam page and if available, the link to Humble Bundle store. Let’s start my list of the top roguelike turn-based RPGs. * The order of the list is generated procedurally 🙂
Ancient Domains Of Mystery (ADOM) – Revisited 2012
Roguelike originally developed by the German Thomas Biskup in 1994, revisited in 2012, is the touchstone of the genre and a classic in the world of video games with more than twenty years of development and optimization behind. ADOM is an epic fantasy Roguelike. The story takes you to the Drakalor Chain, a mountainous area in the fictional land of Ancardia. You are a lone wanderer whose purpose is to find the source of the Chaos spreading throughout the land. Pursuing your quest you traverse through dark dungeons and untamed wilds where death lurks around every corner.
- An unforgiving 1994 roguelike game at its core, ADOM is brought to a new audience with hand-crafted graphics, beautiful music, and a modernized UI.
- Switch between ASCII and graphical modes at any time
- 431 monsters
- 738 items with hundreds of thousands of variants
- 12 playable races
- 22 character professions
- 100 character talents
- 47 spells
- 41 skills
- 35 corruption effects
- 3 alignments with 7 degrees
- 13 ways to end the game
- hundreds of randomized dungeons in many different environments
Rogue Empire – 2018
Rogue Empire is an indie tactical turn-based RPG developed by Portal Entertainment where we will guide a completely customizable hero for class and skill.
- Several Game Modes! Do you enjoy a good epic story? Or maybe you prefer to challenge yourself in a unique infinite dungeon? Or maybe get on your edge with timed mode!
- Randomly generated dungeons, items and events! Play again and again!
- Unique class building based of Trading Card Games concepts.
- Champion monsters and many unique bosses to defeat!
- 7 races and 5 distinct classes to choose!
- A huge map with exploration events, side quests and story!
- Soul essence: Dying will provide you with valuable soul essence, used to unlock perks and new options for your next adventures!
- A beautifully illustrated story with multiple endings!
Sword of the Stars: The Pit – 2013
Developed by Kerberos Productions Inc., The Pit is a turn-based RPG that will keep you glued for hours in front of the screen, and every time you die (and this often happens) you will want to start a new game. The Pit is set in the universe of Sword of the Stars, in fact, you will find references and creatures of the famous game. Here Humble Bundle link.
- 3 Characters to choose from… Marine, Pilot and Engineer!
- 30 Levels of ancient evil science between you and the cure!
- Improve your character and increase your skills as you try and find a way to survive the depths.
- Dozens and dozens of enemies drawn from the Sword of the Stars universe!
- Over 50 weapons and armors with a variety of special effects including flamethrowers, rocket launchers, plasma cannons and powered Brawler armor!
- Randomized augmentation effects (for your equipment… and for you!) make each game unique.
- Crafting lets you make special items from bits and pieces of your enemies.
- Over 100 items to discover, ranging from the familiar to ancient exotic tech.
- Dozens of room types containing a host of exotic devices to help – or maybe hinder – your progress.
- Discover and decipher hidden messages, crafting recipes, and pieces of Sword of the Stars lore!
- Many fiendish ways to die including poisoning, disease, traps, radiation, starvation and of course… MONSTERS.
Dungeons of Dredmor – 2011
Another interesting and fun roguelike turn-based RPG developed by Gaslamp Games, Inc. where we will have to explore procedurally generated dungeons. The game also features a deep crafting system.
- Classic Roguelike gameplay with the sweet, refreshing taste of point-and-click interfaces. No longer must you press CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-x to drink a potion.
- Randomly generated dungeons entice you with the sweet, sweet promises of treasure and … things.
- Old-school pixel goodness. Face lovingly hand-animated monsters and enjoy the great taste of beautiful, individually rendered items on top of a sea of gorgeous, potent tile-work.
- Wield the awesome power of the Anvil of Krong, lest it wield you!
- Incredibly complicated crafting system! Wield relics of the Great Elven/Dwarven conflict; grind down ingots to make powdered aluminum and shove it directly up your nostrils!
- Hordes of monsters never-before-seen in a video game!
- Deploy cunning traps to defeat your foes!
- Infinite replay value: choose from a selection of mind-boggling skills to create your character. A new gameplay experience awaits every time!
- Did we mention there’s lutefisk?
Tangledeep – 2018
One of the most well-kept and deep roguelike dungeon crawling RPG with turn-based mechanics by indie Impact Gameworks. After a successful Kickstarter in March 2017, Tangledeep was Greenlit by the Steam community and released to 90% + positive reviews in February 2018. Here Tangledeep Humble Bundle link.
- Experience finely-tuned, procedurally-generated and handcrafted gameplay as you fight challenging monsters, complete quests, and collect rare items.
- Master deep, tactical turn-based combat across 12 unique jobs with over 100 skills.
- Choose between three game modes – including Adventure Mode, which removes the pain of permadeath.
- Capture nearly any monster in the game and raise them in the Monster Corral as a pet, or breed them with other monsters!
- Make your experience easier, harder, or just plain wackier with over 10 included Game Modifiers
- Share some of your progress between characters by using the banking system and planting magic trees
- Explore ITEM DREAMS, randomized mini-dungeons where anything goes, and power up your gear!
- Take in the scenery – comprised of beautiful 16-bit graphics and carefully handcrafted maps!
- Relax to a beautiful soundtrack inspired by the most legendary RPGs of the SNES era, composed by award-winning composer Andrew Aversa – joined by Hiroki Kikuta (Secret of Mana), Grant Kirkhope (GoldenEye 007, Civilization: Beyond Earth), and Norihiko Hibino (Metal Gear Solid 3, Bayonetta)
- Participate in daily / weekly challenge runs and compare to your friends with Leaderboard support!
- Full support for Steam cloud saves, trading cards, and crafting with lovely badges, emoticons and profile backgrounds
- Steam Workshop: Create and download player mods with new monsters, items, sprite sheets, areas, and more!
Dungeons of Chaos – 2017
With very positive reviews and over 80 hours of gameplay, Dungeons of Chaos by Volker Elzner is a tribute to the 2D turn-based pixelart RPGs of the 80s.
- 2D turn-based pixelart RPGs
- Over 80+ hours of gameplay
- Different classes to choose from
- Over 200 monsters
- Item enhancements
Golden Krone Hotel – 2017
Golden Krone Hotel is a gothic horror very tough roguelike developed by Vulgat. Fight vampires with sunlight or become a vampire yourself and sneak in the shadows. Vampires can see in darkness and drink blood to regenerate, but they’re extremely vulnerable to sunlight and water. Humans can cast magic and wield weapons, but they’re frail compared to vampires. Golden Krone Hotel Humble Bundle link.
- It’s a roguelike, really! Turn-based combat, permadeath, and tough as nails gameplay
- Fully dynamic lighting. Use sunlight as a weapon or snuff out torches to conceal yourself
- A groundbreaking potion identification system that encourages risk taking
- Each run requires you to play as both human and vampire, each with different strengths and weaknesses. Humans are frail spellcasters. Vampires are brawlers with super human speed and strength.
- Leaderboards and shareable morgue files
- Original soundtrack by Christopher Loza
- 10 main floors, 16 branches, and 10 bosses
- Over 50 unique monsters
- 40 potions
- 22 spells and 11 vampire abilities
- 12 classes
Tales of Maj’Eyal – 2012
Tales of Maj’Eyal is a turn-based roguelike RPG developed by Netcore Games, featuring tactical turn-based combat and advanced character building. It presents a modern graphics but remains faithful to the mechanics of the original roguelikes. Tales of Maj’Eyal Humble Bundle link.
- Focus on randomly generated tactical battles
- Rich set of very unique classes
- Unlocks & achievements progression
- A rich world with its own history which slowly reveal during the game
- No consumables, no grinding
- Turn-based: think before you act!
- Simple, easy to use interface
- Easy modding support with Workshop integration
Dungeonmans – 2014
A true roguelike turn-based Rpg where at each hero run we can develop our academy. A vast open world full of legendary items and monsters of all kinds. Developed by
- True roguelike adventure: turn-based, tough but fair, countless combat options.
- More than 75 unique player abilities.
- 12 different styles of Dungeons and Battlefields with more on the way.
- Six class archetypes to mix and match.
- 50+ enemies, including the fearsome Triger!
- The Dungeonmans Academy, your home base that grows with each play.
- A world-class soundtrack brimming with music straight from the era of RPG classics.
Stoneshard – 2019
Is a promising turn-based RPG with roguelike mechanics that I have been following for a long time. Here you will find my overview of the game. We will dress as a hero who will also lead a caravan that as we go along in our adventure, grow and find new helpers. We’ll have to explore dungeons, fight monsters, and be careful not to die..permanently. Developed by Ink Stains Games.
- Embark on the adventure through a vast procedurally-generated world.
- Lead a Caravan of valiant allies and expand your party.
- Upgrade and Customize your character any way you want to.
- Survive, struggling with hunger, injuries, fear, insanity and various diseases.
- Wage war with more than 100 different weapons.
- Follow the will of ancient Gods and gain some of their power in return.
- Return to the journey with a new hero after your character dies in battle.
You can wishlisting StoneShard on steam. Its released will be in Q1 2019 for Pc. Here you will find the Steam page of the game.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, I will try to keep this list updated by listening to your suggestions, so if you want to suggest a traditional roguelike RPG do not hesitate to do it through comments below or by contacting me on Twitter. In the meantime, take a look at the other lists I have prepared to discover some interesting turn-based games.