What Does it Take to Be a Modern-Day Rogue-like Game?

Here I share my opinion about what makes a game, a rogue-like in 2016.

The rogue-like genre gets its namesake from the game Rogue, which came out in 1980. And as the name implies, rogue-like games are those that are designed to play similarly to the original Rogue

But after all these years, the genre has seen some changes -- and it's started to look more and more different than the original Rogue game. Which means it's gotten harder to define what a rogue-like game actually is.

So what does it take to define a game as a rogue-like in 2016?

From my experience, there are 6 main components that make a game a rogue-like. Let's run through them:

Permanent death

Some people consider permanent death as a punishment, but in fact it is the rogue-like game's way of bringing replayability and enjoyment.

In most rogue-like games, permanent death doesn't mean completely restarting the game from scratch. These games add some progression to it -- for example unlocking different kinds of stuff, like more characters or abilities.

Randomly generated environments

Procedural generation for every new gameplay session is the base of the rogue-like genre. It was, and still is, used in the majority all rogue-like games since the genre was established.

Every game uses this feature differently. Some games uses random generation with all its full potential -- like completely randomized characters, world, weapons, and pickups. Other games only randomize certain type of stuff, or a part of the game world.

Semi-Story

Not all rogue-like games have story in them, but this component is being used more and more lately, and especially in the last 10 years. It wasn't a main component in older rogue-like games, but over time it became a main thing in today's rogue-like games.

Multiple levels

While some games in the genre tend to go to the "one level route", like Sunless Sea, most rogue-like games have multiple levels and/or dungeons.

Inventory

Almost every game today has inventory system in it, but rogue-like games depend on it. You can't progress in the game without picking up items and/or weapons, and you need to manage your inventory to decide what to keep and what to throw, because you have a limited amount of space in your inventory.

Random outcome

Every rogue-like game uses random outcome differently, but what random outcome means is that every time you do something, like attacking or casting a spell, the outcome is different -- and you can't know for sure how many hit-points your attack will reduce from the enemy, or how much you will heal from your healing spell. But it gives you a reference range on how much it will do.

enter-gungeon-review-2801a-b8378.jpg

This interpretation was based on my own opinion and experience, and some games don't have all these features, but could still be considered rogue-like games.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with me, or do you have more features to add to the list?

Published Aug. 11th 2016

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