Check out our list of the best roguelike games that will test your skill and patience.
Roguelikes are not just about the dungeon crawls, randomly generated elements, and permanent death. Their developers use the “nothing held back” principle, meaning no one and nothing will cut you some slack. It’s like a troll screaming “Git gud” with a vicious smile on its face whenever you are forced to start over. You come back even stronger, more proficient, and dedicated despite blood boiling with rage.
If this sounds too stressful to handle, you can go back to your comfort zone with our list of the best point and click adventure games to play in 2022. 😛 But, if you appreciate the challenge and value high replayability, check out our line-up of 15 best roguelike games that will take a special place in your heart… we mean Steam library.
Before you point this out, we also included several roguelites in the list. Such titles are not as punishing because some of your equipment and/or abilities often carry over to future runs, as in Hades. Also, they do not always have a top-down view. Nonetheless, they’re all worth playing. Enjoy the read!
Crypt of the NecroDancer
Don’t let the retro pixel art style trick you into thinking this is an average dungeon crawler from another indie developer. Crypt of the NecroDancer offers unique game mechanics by combining dungeon exploration with Dance Dance Revolution. You do all the usual roguelike activities to the beat of the music. Failing to maintain the rhythm throughout the whole level will result in permanent death, so you have to dance to the game’s tunes.
This rhythm-based roguelike gameplay is genius in its simplicity and highly addictive. It’s proved by the players getting over 1,000 hours on their Steam records! You dance masterfully through the crypt to the nice soundtrack, but your clumsiness and “Nothing held back” principle are still in place. Luckily, there’re training grounds where you can get used to the style and eventually get better in a stress-free environment. You can easily get sucked into Crypt of the NecroDancer alone or in co-op mode.
Darkest Dungeon + Darkest Dungeon 2
Prepare for despair, frustration, and literal heart attacks. Darkest Dungeon has a hell of a learning curve, which requires you to figure out the nuances of the game's team management system. When you become aware of the best team members and skills to choose, followed by how unfair the RNG can be, you will dive into the challenge again and again without checking the time.
The dark, mesmerizing art style and well-produced spooky audio sounds add an element of horror to this turn based RPG, which suits the mood of the series. The combat keeps you constantly on edge. It’s not just about making the best out of bad situations. It’s about finding hope in times of total despair. One game evoking such strong feelings is a blessing, a punishment, and a sign of a hidden gem at once. When you finish the first title, check out Darkest Dungeon II, as it further improves the formula.
Don't Starve + Don’t Starve Together
You may think including these in the list is a bit of a stretch, but hear us out. The gameplay indeed leans towards open-world sandbox survival that offers significantly more freedom of action. Nonetheless, Don’t Starve possesses typical features of the roguelike games, such as randomly generated worlds, high difficulty level, permadeath, and insane replayability.
In fact, the survival aspect adds an extra edge to the title, which can be found quite appealing by hardcore fans. The stakes go even higher when, apart from monstrous animals and insects trying to kill you (those bloody BEES), you have 14 more causes of permadeath that will ruin your save. 🙃 You can always seek out help in Don’t Starve Together. The title adds multiplayer (so that you can suffer alongside a friend) and a couple of other helpful features.
Enter The Gungeon
Expect a bullet hell dungeon all the way through this action roguelike! Enter The Gungeon takes you back in time to the good old arcade games with the nostalgic pixel graphics and soundtrack. You get the familiar, obsessive feeling that if you try one more time, you surely will clear the level. Then, suddenly you realize it’s 2 am, and you still feel the same.
Enter The Gungeon is a perfect example of a game that is easy to learn yet hard to master. It sets straightforward objectives: crawl through the dungeons, open new rooms with a key, fight bosses, find better guns, and not get killed. The perfect balance between rogue-like and shooter creates an unusual gaming experience. The humor and references to other legendary titles and pop culture make it even more memorable.
FTL: Faster Than Light
Imagine that Commander Shepard was not the protagonist of the Mass Effect series and instead was placed into an RTS adventure with a top-down view, where you get to manage the crew of a spaceship. You'll have to carefully decide what your subordinates should do on the ship. With so much micromanagement to do, there are so many ways you can mess it all up. 🙃
Gradually, you will be able to upgrade or change ships and enroll team members from various races. Fight real-time battles with an active pause, take care of any issues involving enemy units, and solve onboard problems and conflicts between you and your people. Be the captain they need!
Hades (Included with PC Game Pass)
Hades can proudly stand among some of the best roguelike games because it’s more than just enjoyable to play. Every aspect of the title shows quality. It has an intriguing cast of characters from Greek mythology, and the plot cleverly uses its backstories to build new tales.
Zagreus, the main protagonist, can use several weapons that change the playstyle, making every attempt to escape the Underworld feel different. Then, you get Boons and other bonuses for clearing each room. Mix them well to build the strongest son of Hades you possibly can!
Hades is only one of the games in the vast library of PC Game Pass titles. A few other roguelikes on this list can also be played via Microsoft’s subscription! If you had never subscribed to it before, you would have to pay a mere dollar to try out the service for a month. The offer also applies to GP Ultimate:
If many of your overwhelmingly positive Steam reviews include requests for the board game version of your creation, you must have created something exceptionally engaging. Inscryption is made for deck building enthusiasts. Be a guest of a Leshy is seeking every opportunity to kill you.
All you have to do to stay alive is keep beating him in a card game. It includes several animal characters that can be used for battle in locations you will visit during the session. You will receive new cards and upgrade the deck you already own. Will you manage to escape Leshy’s hut?
Into The Breach
The more you play Into The Breach, the more you start feeling like a chess grandmaster. Once you get your head around 24 mechs, grid buildings, numerous types of enemies, and a vast selection of weapons and bonuses, this turn-based strategy with roguelike elements reveals its beautiful colors. With so many aspects being taken into consideration, each mission can be completed in different ways, so do take your time to overview your tactic. Or rewind your move, which you can do once per each mission.
The charming graphics look exceptionally pleasant and fitting for this indie game. Moreover, it has a great potential for replayability, thanks to squad achievements which earn you money for more squads, pilots, mechs, and unique abilities to collect and try out. Figuring out better moves is also extremely rewarding. But watch out for your power grid, as you will face permadeath when it reaches zero.
Risk of Rain 2
If you would like to play a “pure” roguelike on Steam, Risk of Rain 2 is not the right pick. For a one-of-a-kind experience, it fuses the genre with platformers, shooters, roguelites, and some RPG mechanics. This crazy mix sounds chaotic and unplayable, but it all works exceptionally well in the end!
This sequel introduces the series to 3D, but the core concept hasn’t changed at all. Accompanied by up to 3 companions in the co-op mode, you have to explore an alien planet as one of the Survivors. As you progress through the title, you will unlock more characters, each of them equipped with a set of new, helpful abilities.
Rogue Legacy + Rogue Legacy 2
Rogue Legacy and Rogue Legacy 2 won’t allow you much side scrolling on your first try, and that’s the whole point of these 2D Roguevanias. As the family’s patriarch inevitably perma-dies on your first attempt to explore the dungeon, his ancestors take over and carry on the rogue legacy. Whenever a new offspring enters the "stage", the randomized world also begins anew. Do not worry about running out of your brave fighters because you will get plenty.
Each run is unlike the previous one because future knights have different health conditions. This trait system significantly influences the gameplay and is hilarious, as it adds some humor to the intense action. Thankfully, the gold you gathered is saved after each run, so spending it on valuable upgrades and new classes is advisable before attempting your next infiltration.
Skul: The Hero Slayer (Included with PC Game Pass)
If there’s an aching void in your heart after finishing Hollow Knight (pun intended) or Dead Cells, this game will certainly soothe your pain! One of this title's unique selling points is the fact you’re not playing for a goody two-shoes. For a change, you fight the “good guys” on procedurally generated maps in this side-scrolling action roguelike.
Skulls will help you grow in strength, letting you use various abilities to battle against hostile adventurers even more efficiently. In addition, the game offers a great variety of weapons for even more mix-and-matching. The Demon King’s castle needs you!
Slay The Spire (Included with PC Game Pass)
Mega Crit Games stated: “We fused card games and roguelikes together to make the best single player deckbuilder we could,” and the studio stuck to its word. Slay The Spire is a genius roguelike deckbuilder where you choose between three characters with different approaches to combat. The balance between the genres works perfectly because the merge cancels out each other’s pain points.
In card battles, success does not depend on your agility and muscle memory. You need to be more strategic and theorize how to make the best out of a weak hand. At the same time, you don’t need to drown yourself in tedious research on the best ways of deck-building. You are capable of figuring it out through simplified, dynamic gameplay.
Spelunky + Spelunky 2 (Included with PC Game Pass - only Spelunky 2)
Spelunky has become a classic example of the genre. It embodies all the principles of rogue-like games multiplied by 100. It walks on the edge between being insanely difficult and straight-up unfair without stumbling. It makes you feel rage and perseverance at the same time, which can be compared only to gambling. And that’s the ultimate goal of one of the best roguelike games. It persuades you to play even though moving further is tough.
The title keeps numerous secret treasures for you to discover. But, if you get too greedy and impatient for your own good, you will have to restart from the first level empty-handed. This action roguelike from Steam engages you to such an extent that even the most mentally stable players will lose their marbles. Spelunky is so unforgiving and addictive that it could be named "the Dark Souls of roguelike games". Believe us or not, yet some say Spelunky 2 is even more difficult 😉 In exchange, the sequel introduces more enemies, terrains, and items to use, which means more ways of staying alive.
The Binding of Issac: Rebirth
First the hugely successful Super Meat Boy, then the time came for the famous roguelike RPG, The Binding of Issac. Team Meat knows their stuff! The second title is very loosely based on the biblical story about Issac. Here, you need to wander through the locations full of enemies to escape your mother, who took the idea of sacrifice a little too seriously.
The game helps the player with items you can find lying around, but once you get killed, you need to start over. Thankfully, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth not only added a lot of new content but implemented the save feature. Naturally, once you’re dead, you still need to try again, but it’s helpful when you have to do something else and exit the title immediately. Finally, some mercy.
Ziggurat + Ziggurat 2
The Ziggurat series is a dungeon crawler blended with FPS games. You control a mage who has to prove his worth by venturing into a labyrinth filled with countless monsters to defeat. As bizarre as it may sound, the old-school gameplay works brilliantly. The splendid soundtrack elevates the magical atmosphere, creating a universal appeal.
Both the first title in the series and Ziggurat 2 are incredibly dynamic and versatile, thanks to a range of perks you can gain during the playthrough. Each boss encounter feels new and one-of-a-kind, as they all have a distinct set of attacks. Finding the right approach is both exciting and enraging. If you miss the old era of shooters and would like to spice things up with permadeath, you shouldn’t hesitate to give the series a go.
These were the best roguelike games to play on PC, in our humble opinion. There will surely be more of them in the future, as the genre is popular and benefits from being juxtaposed with other types of games.
We hope you’ve found something new to play on the list. You may also check out our picks in the article about the best soulslike games to play on PC & Steam. They share the difficulty level with several roguelikes, even if the play-style is quite different 😉
Do you think we’ve missed anything that should be on this list? Are you fond of any mentioned titles in particular? Be sure to share your opinion down below!