They’re frustrating, responsible for a surge in controller sales thanks to rage-induced breakages, and they’ll leave your clothes drenched in tension-induced sweat, but we can’t help but love a good roguelike game. The best roguelikes are learning experiences where you feel like you can take a lesson back with you when you revisit square one, apply it to your next journey, and delve deeper into an unforgiving world that wants to keep you knocked down.
That sense of triumph is hard to beat, and with the genre packed with dozens of great games–and more releasing seemingly every week–we’re taking a look at the 30 best roguelikes that’ll have you pumping your fist in the air when you earn a victory that you had to fight for. Our list isn’t organized in any specific order, and the games featured span across numerous sub-genres within roguelikes.
Easily one of the most influential roguelikes of all time, Spelunky’s fine-tuned descent into procedurally-generated darkness has made a massive impact on the genre. Pure passion expressed through excellent game design, this is easily one of the best “just one more run” games that you’ll find on this list. Spelunky originally debuted in 2008 and then was remade for Xbox 360 in 2012 before being ported to just about every console you can think of. It’s the type of roguelike that you can easily sink hundreds of hours into and still find new surprises and delights on your next run.
Read our Spelunky review.
Spelunky’s highly anticipated sequel had a high bar to reach when it launched in 2020, and, in many ways, it surpassed expectations. Spelunky 2 uses everything that made the first game such a success while managing to squeeze even more magic out of those elements and throws in new biomes to explore on top of it. Beware, though: Spelunky 2 is more challenging than the original due to increasingly elaborate level design, smarter AI, and additional systems. That said, it’s also more layered and serves as a perfect test of skill after mastering the original.
Read our Spelunky 2 review.
FTL: Faster than Light
With every intergalactic odd stacked against you as you pilot a rundown ship to its final destination, FTL is all about making certain that you capitalize on your one chance for survival. Tough choices will be made, defeat is always nipping at your space-heels, and the tension is thick enough to cut with a lightsaber in this charming sci-fi strategy game from Subset Games.
Read our FTL: Faster than Light review.
Rogue Legacy 2
A roguelike mixed with Metroidvania influences doesn’t sound too novel these days, but back in 2013 Rogue Legacy showed just how well the genres could work with each other. Its sequel is even better, taking the foundation of the original game and adding transformative twists to the formula that makes it one of the best in its class. The original is worth playing as well, but Rogue Legacy 2 improves on its predecessor in nearly every way.
Read our Rogue Legacy 2 review.
Slay the Spire
Life has a habit of dealing you a tough hand from time to time, but it’s nothing compared to the danger that you’ll face in Slay the Spire. Part roguelike, part deck-building strategy, and all edge-of-your seat strategic action, Slay the Spire’s unique flavor has proved to be incredibly popular and inspired several other games to follow in its card-dealing footsteps.
Read our Slay the Spire review.
A massive influence in the roguelike scene since it first arrived on Steam’s early access all those years ago, Dead Cells’ combination of lightning-fast action and quid pro quo upgrade system has inspired numerous other games in its wake. It’s still as active as ever, and with a number of fresh updates, this sprawling adventure with incredible boss fights is still well worth exploring today.
Read our Dead Cells review.
Supergiant’s Hades is a masterpiece of storytelling, design, and rewarding gameplay. Taking an isometric view of the roguelike battlefield, tossing in procedurally-generated levels, and ensuring that the challenge remains consistently fair, this saga of Greek tragedy shines with violent variety and an emphasis on making each run feel like a valuable lesson learned.
Read our Hades review.
Deceptively simple at first glance, Vampire Survivors is currently in Steam’s early access program and is essentially a one-stick shooter where you fire away at hordes of relentless monsters. For now Vampire Survivors is a one-trick pony of a game, but it’s a hell of a trick that it has up its sleeve.
What toll would exploring a dangerous and badly-illuminated lair really take on a band of adventurers? Darkest Dungeons answers that question, as your squad of warriors quickly succumb to crippling fears and deteriorating mental health in this cult classic game that has gorgeous art design and fascinating gameplay mechanics.
Read our Darkest Dungeon review.
Crypt of the NecroDancer + Cadence of Hyrule
While every roguelike game has a rhythm that’s waiting to be discovered, Crypt of the NecroDancer and Cadence of Hyrule takes that idea and throws it into the spotlight. A fast-paced collection of action delivered through musical timing as the beat goes on, you can even throw your favorite MP3s into the mix for a playlist of pain and percussive execution. Crypt of the Necrodancers is available on multiple platforms, while Cadence of Hyrule is a Switch exclusive set in the world of Hyrule. Along with stellar remixes of classic Zelda tunes, Cadence of Hyrule has multiple campaigns. It’s also more forgiving than Crypt of the Necrodancer.
The Binding of Isaac
It may look and feel like a twin-stick shooter set in a more nightmarish version of Hyrule, but 2011’s Binding of Isaac is an essential roguelike that traps you in an endless cycle of death of rebirth. It’s the experimentation and constant rewards that make this game so satisfying though, while the terrifying visuals will ensure that it lives on in your mind long after you’ve put your controller down. The Binding of Isaac has received numerous expansions and re-releases over the years, with last year’s Repentance serving as the final piece of Binding of Isaac content.
Read our The Binding of Isaac review.
While Slay the Spire has helped inspire a new wave of deck-building roguelikes, Monster Train feels like a game that truly does build on its ideas and offers a fresh perspective. Goofy, loaded with free DLC since launch, and a ton of cards to collect, this roguelike will devour hours of your time with its mountain of deep content.
Enter the Gungeon
Both a roguelike and a trip through bullet hell, Enter the Gungeon goes all in on its gun-heavy design. Arsenals feel fantastic, weapons are terrific to wield, and each run will leave you sweating bullets as the action gets increasingly amplified.
Read our Enter the Gungeon review.
Into the Breach
Pacific Rim meets chess and time travel, Into the Breach’s turn-based nature will lull you into a false sense of security and then hammer home just how crucial every nerve-wracking decision is. When destructive forces of nature pound at your door and the options for canceling the apocalypse require necessary sacrifices, it’ll be all up to you to make some hard decisions in this tense game of bite-sized tactics.
Read our Into the Breach review.
Part adventure-RPG, part shopkeeping, Moonlighter’s ingenious blend of ideas makes for some captivating gameplay. The pixel art looks gorgeous, the gameplay demands all of your attention, and the nods to RPGS of yesteryear make for a consistently charming experience. The demanding procedurally generated dungeons feel inspired by Binding of Isaac, while the town simulation offers a pleasant reprieve from tense combat.
Read our Moonlighter review.
Housemarque’s love for the arcade games of yesteryear were combined into a unique package of space horror and roguelike design in 2021. Dripping with sinister atmospheric detail, a dark storyline, and infinite danger from the alien threats around you, Returnal’s brutal challenges still make for some of the best fun that you can have on PS5 right now.
Read our Returnal review.
Pure character and meta-commentary, roguelike deck-builder Dicey Dungeons oozes charm and personality with every roll of the dice. More forgiving than some other games on this list but still requiring strategy, Dicey Dungeons is one show you’ll want to tune in for to see how the madcap nonsense unfolds.
Read our Dicey Dungeons review.
A retro blast from the past, don’t let Downwell’s quaint visuals fool you as they’re layered over an absurd amount of depth. With community development having added hundreds of new gameplay elements to the package, each floor you reach unlocks more content, options, and intense action that combines for a white-knuckle ride down into the abyss below.
Read our Downwell review.
A Swiss army knife of genres, Loop Hero’s core… loop of roguelike design feels as if its influenced by a dozen other genres and then somehow finds a way to marry them all together. A delicate balance of deck building, simulation, and slaying monsters, Loop Hero is a different but familiar experience to dive into.
Read our Loop Hero review.
Strategic deck-building combat in a roguelike frame? That’s a popular choice within the genre right now, and Griftlands is a prime example of that current trend. Unlike some other games out there, Griftlands does a fantastic job at fusing these ideas together with other genres, creating short but fun campaigns that play well together thanks to the intelligent and nuanced design.
Risk of Rain 2
Adding an extra dimension for the sequel, Risk of Rain 2’s toybox is a deep collection of worlds, monsters, and characters to upgrade so that they’re strong enough to survive the dangers that lie ahead of them. Each run is a dive into chaotic and over-the-top action, and with up to three friends at your side, discovering new loot and gear combinations makes for a great time on the battlefield.
Read our Risk of Rain 2 review.
It might look like hacking code from the 1980s, but Cogmind’s delicious aesthetic is all about unleashing cannibalistic ASCII code on enemies using surprisingly user-friendly interfaces.
Though it’s another roguelike with deckbuilding elements, Inscrytion is unlike anything else on this list. Few roguelikes can compare in the atmosphere department when Inscryption enters the chat. Unnervingly creepy, card games with demons is a surprisingly gripping formula for a great time. Inventive gameplay, a haunting atmosphere, and a story that will keep you guessing makes Inscryption a thrilling adventure. If you survive, that is.
Read our Inscryption review.
Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead
Available for the attractive price of absolutely free, Cataclysm Dark Days Ahead is a zombie apocalypse survival simulator where’ll you’ll need to keep an eye on the undead and your supplies if you want to see tomorrow. A game for fans of complex systems and steep learning curves, Cataclysm’s cute visuals offer plenty of options for keeping the walking dead at bay.
With literally hundreds of ways to die and graphics that look like they were pulled from an old Commodore 64 game, Nethack’s simplistic nature allows for deep exploration in a time capsule package. A spiritual successor to the classic Rogue game, Nethack dials up the complexity to create a staggering number of systems for you to play with.
Don’t Starve is essentially a game about waiting for doom to come to you. You won’t be twiddling your thumbs while waiting for the sun to set as there’s work to be done in this uncompromising look at survival against murderous shadows, but at least you’ll feel like you accomplished something when you finally meet your end.
Read our Don’t Starve review.
Exploring the post-apocalypse guns blazing makes for a fun formula, and Nuclear Throne runs wild with this concept. Charming pixel-art, progressive peril, and twin-stick shooting at weird monsters makes each run feel energetic, and like the best roguelikes, you’ll still gain plenty of experience for the next run when you finally fall in battle.
Read our Nuclear Throne review.
Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate
An old-school throwback, Shiren the Wanderer’s latest release polishes up the original 1995 game and adds some welcome combat updates to the mix. Its visuals still look great today, its replayability will hook you in, and the core concept of knowing when to risk everything on a dangerous dungeon gamble makes for a classic trip back in time.
Unlike many roguelikes, Noita takes place in a world that genuinely feels reactive to your presence thanks to unique “physically-simulated” pixels. That idea creates a beautiful landscape to wreak havoc in with a range of spells, turning the procedurally-generated world into a sandbox that you can dig through for more advantages against overwhelming threats.
Read our Noita review.
Streets of Rogue
The flexibility of Streets of Rogue makes for a fun time, as this game gives you freedom to accomplish tasks in a variety of ways that’ll bring all manner of heat down on you. Failure is an option, and in each run, you’ll learn a lesson that you have to live with as the world adapts and prepares for your resurrection in this charming top-down adventure.
- arcade games
- Mental health
- the dice
- the world
- walking dead