Top 10 Best Roguelites of 2023

These are the very best roguelites of 2023 that you should play right now.
Screenshot by GameSkinny

As with any year, there’s a surge of exciting roguelites in 2023 to try and we just can’t get enough of them. From platformers and deck-builders to action RPGs and shooty ones in 2D and 3D, they come in many flavors. Here are our Top 10 best roguelites of 2023.

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10. For the King 2

Screenshot by IronOak

The first roguelite flavor we have is a turn-based combat one. For the King 2 is a party-based action RPG that reminds me of a board game I want to play with my friends, just like Gloomhaven. That said, the combat is more JRPG-based with roguelite elements and tactical repositioning where your party grows in strength with each attempt to complete the five separate adventures of the game.

IronOak has really focused on the online co-op aspect offering plenty of customization with 12 classes for your friends to distribute amongst yourselves. We definitely need more online co-op roguelites in the mix.

9. 20 Minutes Till Dawn

Screenshot by flanne

There are tons of Vampire Survivors clones out there that are all based on roguelite elements like the original. That said, while these various games and new ones like Death Must Die have tons of potential and are fun, I wanted to include only one VS clone in this list to avoid spamming.

After careful consideration, I chose to include the full version of 20 Minutes Till Dawn released this year. First off, it’s one of the first VS clones ever. It piqued my interest with its eldritch horror aesthetic and weapon system that is separate from the gameplay upgrades. Unlike Vampire Survivors, you pick a character with unique abilities and a gun with special mechanics separately.

This system offers diverse customization where you can mix and match abilities instead of picking up a character with a locked weapon choice. Not to mention the various upgrades you can get while leveling up like elemental bullets and summons. Furthermore, the idea to put a 20-minute timer of survival where the difficulty ramps up drastically is a genius idea and it lets the player know how long the session will last.

8. Backpack Hero & Beneath Oresa

Screenshot by Jaspel/Broken Spear

Since I’m trying to include one game from every roguelite category, I had to put two deck-builders because they both impressed me in different ways, and I couldn’t decide on one! Starting with Backpack Hero, this is probably the cutest game on our list in the most positive sense of that word. Backpack Hero innovates on the roguelite card-builder genre by switching out a deck for a backpack. Gather weapons, armor, potions, and magical trinkets as you delve into the dungeons and organize your inventory to its full effectiveness.

The neat inventory managing Tetris-inspired system is surprisingly complex. There’s tons of strategy, too, like placing a 4-tile weapon next to a damage-boosting jewel and armor but not next to another weapon that debuffs the first one. As your inventory and menagerie of magical items expands, new combinations and interesting combos unlock that you can unleash from your backpack. While Backpack Hero is inspired by Slay the Spire, there are already games inspired by Backpack Hero itself. It’s truly a unique deck-building experience.

Speaking of uniqueness, Beneath Oresa also builds upon the deckbuilder roguelite subgenre with fighting game mechanics. How many deck-builders have you played where there are just 2D sprites that slightly move or produce a measly visual effect when you attack?

Beneath Oresa channels that fighting game brutality by animating every single card with exciting 3D visuals. In fact, the incredible amount of worldbuilding Broken Spear invested in B.O. alongside the animation is incredible and highly laudable. It’s just a satisfying visual experience to watch your character chain card-moves together like a fighting combo while unlocking synergies between different moves and alternating between enemies. This has been a good year for deck-builders.

7. Returnal (PC)

Screenshot by Housemarque

This one’s a bit of a cheat since Returnal is originally from 2022. But it launched in 2023 for PC, which is where I played it, so I’m including it here (sue me — I can cheat!). Returnal is an exciting blend of bullet hell and co-op third-person shooters with a gloomy yet beautiful atmosphere. It has some of the best worldbuilding and story out of almost any 2023 roguelite.

And that boss design, hoo boy. Hyperion is a hauntingly mesmerizing fight both in terms of music, mechanics, and visuals. Similarly to Hades, each run not only makes you more knowledgeable about mechanics and increases your power, but you also keep learning new story tidbits about the game as you unravel the mystery of Returnal’s world.

Moreover, the third-person shooter combat system is satisfyingly crunchy with more weapons unlocking as you unlock higher levels, pick up Calibrators, or find secret ones. Best of all, the Weapon Traits system diversifies your arsenal even further. To put it into perspective, there are 10 weapons with nine different traits, so you can guess how replayable the game is just from a combat standpoint.

6. Roboquest

Screenshot by RyseUp

Want a banger metal soundtrack as you play a banger metal robot bang-banging other metal robots into scrap? Roboquest is a fast-paced new addition to the FPS Roguelite world similar to Tower of Guns and Ziggurat. Each run allows you to test out different classes, guns, and builds.

Once you eventually die, you’re back to your engineer’s workshop for new upgrades ready to kick ass again, stronger than before. There’s even a co-op mode to annihilate hordes of robots with your buddy. The smooth gunplay mechanics of Roboquest are quickly making it one of my favorite FPS roguelites.

From a diversity standpoint, the game uses classes that modify your approach. The base Guardian is a jack-of-all-trades shooter while more specific gameplay styles from the teleporting Recon or the stealthy Ranger offer alternative ways to dismantle your enemies. If you ever get bored of guns, which is highly unlikely as they feel so smooth to fire, the Elementalist offers that classic wizard master blaster disaster playstyle.

5. Wizard with a Gun

Screenshot by Galvanic Games

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you combined Don’t Starve with Nuclear Throne and Ziggurat? Well, Galvanic Games has, and Wizard With a Gun is their esoteric brain child that oozes sandboxy dungeon-crawler roguelite elements. Play alone or with a friend and blast enemies with guns and spells in a slower, more tactical setting. You won’t often see a full crafting and building system in your roguelites and whether that’s a good thing depends entirely on your preference. I quite enjoyed the sandbox construction elements, though the action is drastically slower than in other roguelites which might turn some people off.

That said, roaming around the level fighting off enemies and collecting resources to build your base is quite appealing to my management-loving soul. You can construct buildings like a bullet enchantment station to craft electric, toxic, or fire bullets. With your labyrinth of structures growing and increasing your power, you can then delve further into the open world and discover new dangers to fight. It’s a neat Don’t Starve-inspired gameplay loop that you don’t see often in roguelites.

4. Astral Ascent

Screenshot by Hibernian Workshop

Astral Ascent is probably one of the best-looking pixel art games I’ve seen this year besides Sea of Stars. It mixes the hub world roguelite progression of Hades with the fast-paced combat of Skul and Dead Cells. Choose between four unique heroes with their own sets of abilities and tackle the 12 different bosses of the game. There’s a lot to say about the combat system of this game which is superb but I’m still just enchanted by the visuals. If you do get the game, check out the excellently implemented co-op mode.

As for combat, it runs on spells. There are character-specific spells from the four heroes, but you can also find universal ones to mix and match. You start with a basic loadout and can then add and replace your kit with the new spells you find throughout the level. Some are AoE, some defensive, some are based around movement, etc. Let’s not forget about signature spells which are your ultimate abilities to end combat in a flash.

3. Ember Knights

Screenshot by Doom Turtle

Speaking of co-op, my favorite multiplayer roguelites this year are definitely the first entry and Ember Knights. Join with up to three of your friends in this dungeon-crawler experience playing as cute little knights wielding a variety of unlockable weapons.

There are tons of equipment and activate-able item combinations like in any great roguelite game. Furthermore, throughout each run, you’ll collect Ember which you can use to upgrade all of your Ember Knights for future runs. It’s a straightforward and casual 4 player co-op that’s perfect for parties.

This co-op aspect is the core of the game as, based on your party’s weapon choice, each character can become a classic RPG role like tank, mage, ranger, or rogue. The run then essentially becomes a WoW raid as your friends who picked up the hammer or longsword become vanguards and those with the staff or bow become the backline.

2. Darkest Dungeon 2

Screenshot by Red Hook Studios

On a more grim dark and tactical turn-based side, we have the sequel to Darkest Dungeon. It retains many of the elements we like about the first game. There are tons of classes to try out in an eldritch horror-infested world where light is precious. Traversing the level isn’t just about solving combat encounters but also social ones while managing resources and inter-party dynamics. However, the permadeath mechanics have been toned down a little making Darkest Dungeon 2 highly accessible for newcomers to the series.

Gone are the days when you’ll manage dozens of characters that might be of the same class. Instead, DD2 zooms in on the fact that each class is a unique character. The team is smaller but you grow to care about them more. Furthermore, you’re not going on a full-scale campaign necessarily but on smaller runs that you can manage more easily for resource gain as you slowly strengthen and upgrade your stable cast of characters.

As I mentioned, it’s a much more accessible game that keeps that grim dark atmosphere of the original we love. Plus, those new 3D animations look superb. The Crusader and Fencer were also added in the game’s late-year DLC.

1. Risk of Rain Returns

Screenshot by GameSkinny

In many ways, the original Risk of Rain was a perfect roguelite game for some like me. It had a beautiful atmospheric world and music. There were tons of different item combinations, enemies, bosses, areas, and playable characters. Even though Returns isn’t a new game but a remaster, it takes all that stuff we liked about the original and cranks it up to eleven.

There are new items, bosses, character abilities, classes, and most importantly a working online co-op. I cannot recommend this game enough for fans of the original who want to play with up to three more friends and raid Petrichor V.

RoR Returns has some of the best co-op elements with many characters having supportive and team-focused abilities creating a dynamic experience that’s different when you’re playing solo. Overall, not all RoR 2 fans like the original, but if you’re a 2D shooter fan and enjoy roguelites, Risk of Rain Returns is personally one of the best titles out there.

That’s it for my list of the Top 10 best roguelites of 2023. I hope you’ll get to experience some of them during the holiday sales if you haven’t already. There truly are a ton of great games in this genre this year. If you liked this article and want more end-of-the-year lists check out our best RPGs and best Indie games of 2023.

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Author
Gordan Perisic
From playing RPGs and dungeon mastering for his D&D group to reading novels and scribbling about his fantasy setting, Gordan is a full-time nerd and devoted writer for GameSkinny. He loves to overshare and discuss literature, music, animation, and trees with fellow geeks. Also, he may or may not cook too much food for his friends. Cholesterol is one hell of a drug.