There are a lot of 2D roguelike games out there now, but these are a step above the rest.
It can be hard to say what a roguelike game is these days, when there are so many triple-A blockbusters and small indie gems coming out all the time. Even though each book has its own unique take on a subject that is getting a bit crowded, they all seem to be the same where it counts.
Some of the most interesting and unique 2D roguelike games can be found in the indie scene. With bright, often grainy graphics, tight controls, and unique ways to play, you have a lot of options when it comes to adding games to your library. Here are some of the best 2D games in the indie gaming space that have roguelike features.
In Noita, you play as a mage who likes to explore caves and is on a quest for destructive fame. It’s a sandbox roguelike where you can play and experiment with its features while exploring deep dungeons and large caverns. Every cell in the game is simulated physically, so you can burn, freeze, melt, or blow up whatever you want.
As you play with the elements, people will be amazed when you smash a hole in the bottom of a large body of water to make a waterfall or when you start a fire and let it spread through a dense jungle. There are a lot of different ways to play in the seven main biomes, and it’s fun to be able to mix and match your skills to make dangerously wild magical builds.
Downwell is a ridiculously easy game that you will probably play over and over again. The idea behind the game is as simple as its retro-styled black, white, and red pixelated look: you have to survive your long fall down a well that seems to go on forever in order to beat the scary boss at the bottom.
You fall straight down with a pair of trusty gun boots. As you fight a random set of enemies on your way to the bottom, you will unlock new weapons and perks. To get the best upgrades, you have to collect gems by keeping your combo meter high and falling through the levels as quickly as possible. The controls are easy to use and smooth, and the gameplay loop is so engaging and well-made that you’ll often find yourself playing it over and over again.
Don’t be fooled by how cute and colorful Revita looks. This is a game that will have you running it more times than you can count. At its core, Revita is a punishing twin-stick side-scrolling shooter with bosses and foes that fire bullets at you.
It has a heart sacrifice system that lets you trade your health for powerful items and upgrades. This is one of the more interesting parts of the game. It has a great risk-reward system that pushes you to play like a glass cannon and makes you often regret giving up one heart too many in your quest for power. It also has a great music and a story that is very interesting and, to my surprise, very moving.
With its unique and interesting mix of procedurally produced mining and tower defense-style gameplay, Dome Keeper does more than enough to keep things fresh and stand out from the crowd.
You have to dig deep into many layers of earth to find materials to improve your dome so you can fight off waves of monsters that get harder and harder. There’s a nice contrast between the quiet and peaceful mining in the depths and the frantic rush of monsters to protect against on the surface.There are a lot of game types and unlockables to try out, and it’s a great game for people who want to play something different.
Loop Hero takes advantage of the fact that roguelike games loop and makes it its main gameplay trait. In fact, you have no direct power over your character at all. Instead, you just give them the best equipment you can, send them off, and hope for the best.
On your way around the dangerous looping path, you can stop to pick up items and gear after beating enemies. Even more interesting, you can pick up cards to add more tiles to the loop, which might give you more rewards… or kill you quickly. The game has a great cynical tone and does everything a little bit differently than everyone else. Loop Hero has a lot of surprising detail and is well worth your time.
Spelunky 2 is a sequel to a real classic. It takes the brutal dungeon-crawling 2D platforming of the first game and makes it even harder. This time, you get to take your favorite Indiana Jones-style traveler to the game’s labyrinthine stages on the moon, which are randomly made.
It is still just as hard as ever, with lots of new traps and monsters that can kill you over and over again. Between runs, you can’t find lasting upgrades. Instead, you can find temporary items in chests or buy them in shops. This is a huge sequel to one of the best indie games of the last decade.
Rogue Legacy 2
Rogue Legacy 2 keeps up with the first game’s colorful action-platforming antics and finally answers the question of whether a colorblind clown wearing armor and suffering from super IBS could kill a knight.
In this game, like its predecessor, you lead a group of brave knights, rangers, and mages who all come from the same line of ancestors. Each hero will have a unique trait that can either help you a lot or hurt you a lot. With the game’s punishingly hard difficulty curve and random set of traits and combat classes, you’ll probably spend a lot of time trying to reach the game’s final boss through its colorful and varied biomes.
Slay The Spire
Slay the Spire is a great mix of a single-player deck builder and a serious roguelike. It is often called one of the most important games in its genre.
As with most roguelike games, you climb the Spire along a random road where you might find powerful items and enemies that get harder as you go. Building your deck is a lot of fun, especially when the game’s turn-based combat system rewards you for choosing the best cards by making you ridiculously strong. With four different character classes to choose from, the game has a lot of promise to be played over and over again and is a great new take on the genre.
Dead Cells combines the brutal skill-based fighting of Dark Souls and the deep exploration of a Metroidvania to make an action-packed 2D roguelike side-scroller that has more than earned its place as one of the best in the genre.
Each stage is made by a set of rules, and each one has a nice splash of colorful pixel art and a lot of different enemies that can kill you. There are a lot of different weapons and tools to try out, so you can tailor your play style to what you like best. Dead Cells keeps getting better with time, like a good wine. It has since gotten a lot of paid DLC and a lot of welcome free updates.
The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a must-play for fans of roguelike games. It is one of the most important modern 2D dungeon crawls of all time. It looks like it was made by a child, but it’s actually a very sad and frightening story about a young boy who has to face the horror of his crazed mother who wants to hurt him.
Like most roguelike games, Tunnel Rush sets in each level are made at random and make a nice background for all the great Zelda-style exploring and twin-stick shooting you’ll be doing. Rebirth includes the large Afterbirth and Repentance additions and is without a doubt the best way to play through this timeless classic.