15 Rogue-likes to Play Right Now

Yeah, Enter the Gungeon is on this list, how could it not be?

15. Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy - Gameplay

Without much of a real story or set up, this is a game largely responsible for revitalizing the rogue-like genre. 

Rogue Legacy is an action platformer where failure means the death of your current character, and there’s no revives. Each fallen rogue has a descendant, with new traits and special abilities, so that no two runs are the same, making this 2013 game still worth playing today, especially with its classic and timeless “knights and monsters” setting and character designs

  • Rogue-lite: there’s a skill tree to enhance the descendants of your dead characters
  • Character traits like dyslexia have real, in-game effects
  • 8 classes and more than 60 enemies (if you count palette swaps)

The Family Tree System

Combat in action

14. Moonlighter

Moonlighter - Gameplay

Your father has passed away, and though you have been left with his humble shop, the depths of the local dungeon call out to you.

Satisfying both your taste for dungeon crawling and shopkeeping sims, assuming you have both, Moonlighter is split into two gameplay styles: your classic adventuring deeper into a magical dungeon, fighting monsters and finding treasures, and then selling those items in your father’s shop, and meeting customer needs.

  • Master various weapon types while fighting your way through the dungeons
  • Get to know the rotating cast of villagers that come into your shop
  • Craft new items you can enchant with materials found in the dungeons

Just one of several very well animated and creative bosses

The cozy shop which you’ll spend the other half of the game in

13. Darkest Dungeon

Story trailer w/ gameplay 

You’ve just inherited a free mansion from an estranged relative! Hooray! Too bad he accidentally opened a portal to hell in the basement.

Recruit a team of adventurers and journey into the depths below the mansion to cleanse the evils below. Exploration through each floor is done in real-time, but combat is turn-based and centered around a stress system; stress builds up, and depending on the class of the character, this will either harm or help them (usually harm). Other than another title towards the end of the list, this is probably the darkest game.

  • Experience the Affliction System - paranoia, fear, and other quirks which affect gameplay
  • Character permadeath and procedurally generated dungeons
  • 16 total classes, including Plague Doctor and… Leper?

Standard screen during combat

Combat in motion

12. Dead Cells

Dead Cells gameplay

On a small, unnamed Island, you play as the Prisoner, essentially an immortal, living blob of snot, that can possess corpses in its efforts to escape from its prison by any means necessary

Dubbing itself the first RogueVania, Dead Cells’ map is interconnected AND randomly generated, rather than a series of levels or one big map like pretty much every other game on this list. Additionally, the combat is very Souls-lite, and that’s not me being a game journalist; the Steam page said it first. Combine permanent abilities with new weapons and fight, explore, and platform your way to freedom.

  • More than 50 weapons and spells for experimenting with different styles of combat
  • Nonlinear progression means you can tackle the different areas on the Island in your preferred order
  • Explore the Island and find the kind of secrets and hidden areas only a MetroidVania could provide

Combat in Dead Cells

Blocking a powerful incoming attack

11. Chunsoft’s Mystery Dungeon

Though each Mystery Dungeon game is different, the story is almost always based around one key factor: exploring mysterious dungeons (duh).

Have you played Pokemon and been disappointed by how easy it was? Do you want a Final Fantasy game centered around everyone’s favorite yellow chicken, the Chocobo? The Mystery Dungeon series might just be for you if you can push through the stiff grid-based gameplay and enjoy hundreds of hours of randomly generated floors. 

  • Timeless grid-based combat and exploration
  • Procedurally generated dungeons that can exceed 50 floors
  • Fair but unforgiving loss of items and currency upon death

Etrian Odyssey: Mystery Dungeon

Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon

10. Toejam and Earl

Toejam and Earl gameplay

It’s the 90’s if you couldn’t tell, and two totally radical bros, named Toejam and Earl, have crashed their spaceship on Earth, and need to reassemble it if they want to escape.

Yeah, this one is a bit of an odd-ball as far as this list goes, but that’s exactly why I brought it in. Toejam and Earl was directly inspired by Rogue, the first of the subgenre, and so I couldn’t not include it. Though there’s really no combat or strategy involved, the wacky, shamelessly 90’s style and randomly generated floors make it worth revisiting without a doubt.

  • Delightfully 90’s graphics, music, and humor
  • Easy-going nature and laid-back exploration
  • Fun, relaxing co-op perfect for just chilling on the couch with your bros

Earl being pursued by a horde of Earthlings

Split-screen co-op

9. Don’t Starve

Don’t Starve gameplay

Probably the simplest set up of any game on this list, Maxwell the scientist is whisked away to a mysterious land by an invention of his and decides to try to not starve.

Though there is a story-based Adventure mode, the bulk of this game will be played in Sandbox. A randomly generated map is gifted to the player, and your goal is simple: survive as long as possible. In other words, don’t starve. Or, y’know, get mauled by a bear, or by one of your own hallucinations, which, yeah, your own hallucinations can kill you. Most things in this game can. Good luck!

  • Unforgiving survival, with no instructions or help; it’s all up to you
  • Randomly generated worlds that restart when you die
  • Tim Burton-esque darkly whimsical art style

A player’s settlement, a haven from the wild

Freaky creatures appear as night falls

8. Death Road to Canada

Death Road to Canada Hot Dog Car Trailer

What is the Oregon Trail, but with zombies? The US is facing a zombie outbreak, and Canada is the last hope for those left uninfected.

I have no idea whose idea this game was, but I’m glad they had it. Form a party of regular dudes whose skills (you hope) will help you survive, get in whatever car you can find, and try to road trip across the USA to Canada, a safe haven from the zombie apocalypse. Survival mechanics, random events, and occasional zombie-beatdowns make this game constantly changing, always fresh, and a wild time to be had.

  • Character creator allows you to recreate your real-life friends to be eaten by zombies!
  • Choices matter with Fiction events that can result in different outcomes
  • Teach a dog to drive a car (lifted straight from the Steam page)

The party surrounded by an army of zombies

I have no idea what’s up with this fish

7. Crypt of the Necrodancer

Crypt of the Necrodancer gameplay
Cadence, the cleverly named protagonist of this story, has stumbled upon this magical crypt in the search for her missing treasure-hunting father.

Rhythm and rogue-like don’t sound like a match made in heaven, but Brace Yourself Games thought otherwise and made one of the most addicting games on this list. Not only are the floors fun to explore and play through, but the soundtrack alone is enough to keep you fighting through the floors of the crypt just to see what song the next boss will have backing them.

  • Move, dodge, attack, and even think to the beat
  • Groove to 40+ BANGING tunes (fittingly, the best soundtrack on the list)
  • Boss fights feel like choreographed dance numbers, which you interrupt with murder

Basic dungeon exploration

Coral Riff, one of many bosses

6. Wizard of Legend

Wizard of Legend gameplay

A simple set up: you are an apprentice mage, entering the Grand Wizard Trials for the first time.

In my opinion, this is the most underrated game on this list. Though it didn’t have much content on launch, the Sky Palace update made it more than worth the 15.99 price on Steam. Mix and match hundreds of spells as you fight your way through the Grand Wizard trials, with creative and just plain cool spells that really do make you feel like a Wizard of Legend.

  • 100+ spells with nearly unlimited combinations and synergies
  • Intense local co-op that can be action-oriented or strategic
  • Smooth animations, bright colors, and a magical soundtrack

A wizard using Whirling Tornado

Local co-op

5. Spelunky

Spelunky gameplay

You’re a spelunker, and spelunkers gotta spelunk. It’s simple mathematics.

A speedrunner’s dream and a completionist’s nightmare; each randomly generated floor is packed to the brim with treasures for you to find and monsters for you to try to not get killed by. If you’re skilled, you can go straight for the exit, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably be too busy carefully wandering around to notice The Ghost, an invincible enemy that drifts through walls and kills you in one hit if you take too long.

  • Rogue-like platforming requires quick thinking and risk-taking
  • Daily challenges that mix up the caves you explore
  • Deathmatch Mode with 72 arenas for local multiplayer

Some explosions in the distance...

The addictive deathmatch mode

4. Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire gameplay

The lore and worldbuilding of this game is left intentionally vague, but one thing is certain: the Spire is unnatural, and it’s up to you to explore it.

Pick one of three unique classes (with a fourth currently in beta), take your starting deck of cards, and begin your climb up the Spire, a strange tower filled with monsters, treasures, and endless mystery. One character would be enough, but four, with each having their own pool of cards, makes for a game that never feels like it’s going stale. And if you’ve finished runs with each character and find it getting too easy, just turn up the Ascendency level (difficulty settings) to make the game even more challenging.

  • Dynamic deck building resulting in load outs that are never the same as the last
  • Unique cards and mechanics for each of the 4 characters
  • 250+ cards, 150+ items, and 50+ items!

The Ironclad targeting an enemy with the Bash skill

The Silent facing off with The Champion

The Defect using it’s elemental abilities

3. Dicey Dungeons

Lady Luck, the mistress of Fate herself, is running a deathly game show, the prize of which is your one true wish! Only one catch: you can only leave once you’ve won, and no one ever wins.

The newest game on this list, imagine the strategic, turn-based combat of Slay the Spire, replace the cards with dice, and slather a coat of Cuphead paint over the entire game. Dicey Dungeons is a fun lighthearted experience with a cutesy style and constant sense of humor that somehow matches the simple yet still strategic combat.

  • Six wildly different playable characters, including a Warrior, Robot, and Jester!
  • Upbeat, inspiring soundtrack by Chipzel, the musician for Super Hexagon
  • Storybook art style by Marlowe Dobbe

The Warrior on the level 4 map

The Warrior in combat against a Wicker Man

2. The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth gameplay

The Binding of Isaac is a grim game: your mother has heard a voice from above, telling her to kill her son, who as been “corrupted with sin”.

Lucky you, though, you escape through a trapdoor into the grimy, hellish underworld you spend your time exploring. Floors are randomly generated, and so are the bosses you fit, though the rooms themselves are similar to the original Legend of Zelda. The game is a twin-stick shooter, where you find upgrades and items and lose them upon death, and it is brutal as hell, both in gameplay and visuals, but it still manages to be delightful to play. 

  • 4 billion possible runs (yeah, billion)
  • 450+ unique items and upgrades
  • 13 different endings in the base game; the ride never ends

Isaac against several Gapers

A later game boss, where the screen is cluttered as all hell

1. Enter the Gungeon

Farewell to Arms DLC - Gameplay

The Gungeon is a mysterious structure left intact in a universe taken over by the Advanced Hegemony of Man, and at the core of it is the Bullet That Can Kill the Past, which when loaded into the Gun That Can Kill the Past, can erase one’s past and allow a second chance.

The end-all-be-all of roguelikes. A powerful combination of humor, style, and insanely fun twin-stick shooting that has personally kept me coming for 150+ hours. It took me nearly a dozen runs to even reach the second floor, and it only gets harder from there, but the difficulty is rewarding, and I still haven’t unlocked every gun.

  • 243 guns as of the final update, each worth using, half of which are pretty clever references
  • 27 unique bosses, nearly half of which are hidden behind different encounter methods
  • Grab a Player 2 for some of the best couch co-op available

Early-stage enemies before it really gets crazy

The Beholster, the D&D inspired high-key best boss in the game

 

I'm Aspen, an aspiring writer more than happy to get a start in game journalism
Gamer Since: 2008
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Dicey Dungeons and Etrian Odyssey
Top 3 Favorite Games:Shovel Knight, Child of Light, Kero Blaster
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