Best Mobile Roguelike Games for iOS and Android
They’re something of a niche in the gaming industry, and are especially new to mobile platforms. Roguelike games are starting to trickle in to the mainstream, however, and anyone who deals with games on a regular basis has probably heard about them at some point. But roguelike games are a tricky beast, and not for the casual gamer who just wants a light, easy gaming experience to pick up for occasional sessions. Roguelikes tend to be intensive, and require a large amount of gameplay for you to build up the skills and progress in the game. If you’re looking to build your repertoire, here are a few of the best mobile roguelike games for iOS and Android.
What Is a Roguelike Game?
First of all, the term “roguelike” goes back to the year 1980, with the game Rogue: Exploring the Dungeons of Doom. It was like other dungeon exploration videogames, inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, in that you guide an avatar through the dungeon to retrieve a magical amulet. Green Man Gaming describes the gaming mechanics as:
“The main hook for the game was that each time you enter the dungeon it’s layout, monsters, and loot are all procedurally generated. This means that every time you started the game you’d face a new challenge, one you hadn’t seen before. The game also incorporated permadeath; each time you die your character is gone forever and you must start over afresh with an entirely new dungeon layout.”
Rogue was a sensation, and it spawned a genre of similar games. These games imitated Rogue in that they had a high-fantasy aesthetic, taking place in dungeons. They are also marked by:
- procedural generation of challenges
Purists of the roguelike community insist that, to qualify, a game must have all 3 of these pillars. Otherwise, it just has “roguelike qualities.” They also tend to have retro, pixelated graphics, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Popular Mobile Roguelike Games
Roguelike and roguelike-esque games tend to have limited popular appeal. Due to the procedural generation aspect, if you die in the game you go back to the very beginning, rather than regenerating at a checkpoint. But recent phenomenons in the gaming world have started spreading the world.
Called “the apotheosis of the roguelike” by VentureBeat, the award-winning Dead Cells has been a smash hit due to its quality graphics and gaming mechanics, as well as its unique premise. You start the game as a few cells that come to being in a poisoned world. The aim of the game is to take over a body and navigate the world, and figure out where it all went wrong. Every time you die you have to restart at the beginning, so players must prepare to sink a lot of hours into gameplay. However, your character can access different upgrades, weapons, and blueprints so you advance more quickly through the game.
Crypt of the Necrodancer
A tongue-in-cheek take on the classic roguelike, Crypt of the Necrodancer describes itself as a “rhythm dungeon crawler.” You basically explore dungeons, collecting loot and battling the undead as you fight your way to the boss. But the hook is that you fight monsters using the power of dance. Move to the in-game soundtrack, or upload your own MP3s.
With clever puzzles and sinister beasties, Necrodancer trains players in strategic thinking and anticipating patterns. The core game mechanics are easy to pick up, but each level has enough variation to keep you excited for more as you boogie down with some dancing skeletons.
Download Crypt of the Necrodancer on the App Store.
Immortal Rogue is a mobile game that takes a different approach to the roguelike genre. Instead of a high fantasy rogue or paladin, your main character is a vampire. And instead of exploring dungeons, gameplay progresses through the centuries as you survive by stalking and killing your enemies.
Fans of games where your choices affect the world of the game will find Immortal Rogue intriguing. The gist of the game is that you endure through the centuries and watch the world change. And your decisions can lead to stability or catastrophe, depending on whether you kill people, let them live, or turn them into more vampires. And since the concept of the game involves you going back to the beginning again and again, you can explore all the different timelines, ultimately ending up in either a technological utopia or a nuclear wasteland.
For something a little more whimsical, Sproggiwood is what the purists call “rogue-lite,” as it doesn’t tick all the boxes to be a strict roguelike game. It also has a warm, cuddly animated style that’s different from other roguelikes’ more grimdark graphics.
Sproggi is a guardian spirit on a quest to save his forest from destruction. As he enlists townspeople to help him, you get to explore the village and forest and interact with various characters. It’s a lighthearted and humorous game. Plus, each level only has a few stages to navigate through, making it much easier to progress in than proper roguelikes.
Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead
Cataclysm is an open-source horror game, in which players navigate a zombie-filled postapocalyptic city. (Although after a recent upgrade you can replace zombies with dinosaurs… or you can remove all zombies and just spend your time hanging out in the abandoned city.) It also has a diverse ecosystem of NPCs you can interact with.
The game is free to download. And as it has a team of volunteers updating and expanding it for years, it might be the most expansive and immersive roguelike game in the gaming world.
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