Can someone explain the appeal of Rogue-likes/lites to me?

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With the boom of indie games in the last 8-9 years, the Roguelike (along with its slightly less punishing alternative, Roguelite) genre has been growing stronger and stronger, with more and more games coming out. I've tried a couple out over the years and I only kept scratching my head in bewilderment more and more as to why people find those games fun.

It's a game genre where everything is randomized - the level layout, the enemy placement, the loot... You basically can't get better at the game by learning it due to all of those constantly changing, and yet the game has the audacity to punish you by making you lose all of your progress when you don't learn from your mistakes. I'm sorry, what mistakes? The mistake of not predicting there was going to be three enemies, that weren't there before, standing behind the corner that wasn't there before?

Seriously, what's the appeal? Because to me, this genre sounds like the counter-definition of a fun game.

I don't get it either. It truly is the opposite of everything I expect from a video game. It's a genre that revolves around terrible game design that other games would be called out for. But rogue-likes get away with bad game design because it's literally their core feature.

Ever play almost any arcade game ever? Now apply that to an RPG.

Though I prefer ones with some sort of unlockables, new characters/classes/options/items whatever.

Plus there is the potential of endless play. I love Dark Souls, but after 100% both 1 and 2, I feel little need to replay them...except when they re-release it >.> (Cause now I can get all the achievements again...)

But I would be down for a Dark Souls Rogue-like. (Seriously that would be awesome)

I personally also like the feeling of discovery, to see what new version of the layout or whatever I get next.

Saelune:
Ever play almost any arcade game ever? Now apply that to an RPG.

Not really a good analogy. Arcade games also are ridiculously punishing, true, but they have preset level layouts and enemy placements, meaning you can master game by memorization and putting it into practice. You can't do that with a Roguelike.

Saelune:
Plus there is the potential of endless play. I love Dark Souls, but after 100% both 1 and 2, I feel little need to replay them

Okay, I can see the appeal in that. However, this doesn't really explain why people would be willing to play a game where you lose all of your progress when you screw up, instead of just playing a normal game, with procedurally generated levels, that you can save your progress in.

Saelune:
I personally also like the feeling of discovery, to see what new version of the layout or whatever I get next.

Again, that could easily be applied to the type of game I mentioned above. You still get randomized levels, but you don't get sent back to the absolute beginning when you die.

ninja666:

Saelune:
Ever play almost any arcade game ever? Now apply that to an RPG.

Not really a good analogy. Arcade games also are ridiculously punishing, true, but they have preset level layouts and enemy placements, meaning you can master game by memorization and putting it into practice. You can't do that with a Roguelike.

Saelune:
Plus there is the potential of endless play. I love Dark Souls, but after 100% both 1 and 2, I feel little need to replay them

Okay, I can see the appeal in that. However, this doesn't really explain why people would be willing to play a game where you lose all of your progress when you screw up, instead of just playing a normal game, with procedurally generated levels, that you can save your progress in.

Saelune:
I personally also like the feeling of discovery, to see what new version of the layout or whatever I get next.

Again, that could easily be applied to the type of game I mentioned above. You still get randomized levels, but you don't get sent back to the absolute beginning when you die.

I could just as easily point out that makes it tedious and predictable. Rogue-likes add variety.

The joy of starting fresh is real, I know I have it. There is something about a fresh new playthrough that is pretty great! Many games where I can keep my progress I still find myself starting over anyways cause I enjoy that level 1 feeling.

Saelune:
The joy of starting fresh is real, I know I have it. There is something about a fresh new playthrough that is pretty great! Many games where I can keep my progress I still find myself starting over anyways cause I enjoy that level 1 feeling.

I'm guilty of that as well, but that still doesn't explain why people would prefer roguelikes over the type of game I described, a game that has all the positive aspects of a roguelike, without any of the downsides. Hell, it even gives you the ability to do exactly what you describe - you just hit "new game", get a fresh start you want, with entirely new, randomly generated levels, but you don't get punished and forced back to square one for fucking up one level, or a boss, or anything, really.

The random elements in Rogue-like & lites is the main draw, because it favors re-play, exploration/discovery and emergent gameplay properties.

Vendor-Lazarus:
The random elements in Rogue-like & lites is the main draw, because it favors re-play, exploration/discovery and emergent gameplay properties.

I get it. But what's the appeal behind the overly punishing nature of the genre? Because that's why I'm trying to find out the most.

ninja666:

Saelune:
The joy of starting fresh is real, I know I have it. There is something about a fresh new playthrough that is pretty great! Many games where I can keep my progress I still find myself starting over anyways cause I enjoy that level 1 feeling.

I'm guilty of that as well, but that still doesn't explain why people would prefer roguelikes over the type of game I described, a game that has all the positive aspects of a roguelike, without any of the downsides. Hell, it even gives you the ability to do exactly what you describe - you just hit "new game", get a fresh start you want, with entirely new, randomly generated levels, but you don't get punished and forced back to square one for fucking up one level, or a boss, or anything, really.

The challenge is fun. Succeeding when there is that risk makes it fun for some people. Why do people do Nuzlocke challenges in pokemon? Cause that risk adds to the challenge which adds to the reward of success. The same reason people play games on higher difficulty even though easy mode is available too.

Saelune:
The challenge is fun. Succeeding when there is that risk makes it fun for some people. Why do people do Nuzlocke challenges in pokemon? Cause that risk adds to the challenge which adds to the reward of success. The same reason people play games on higher difficulty even though easy mode is available too.

Is there a more elaborate answer to that, than "just because some people prefer it that way"? Because that kind of answer doesn't really provide me with any worthwhile info. Sure, preferences play a big part in it, but behind every preference there's often a complex reason for it, and that reason is what I'm trying to find out.

ninja666:

Saelune:
The challenge is fun. Succeeding when there is that risk makes it fun for some people. Why do people do Nuzlocke challenges in pokemon? Cause that risk adds to the challenge which adds to the reward of success. The same reason people play games on higher difficulty even though easy mode is available too.

Is there a more elaborate answer to that, than "just because some people prefer it that way"? Because that kind of answer doesn't really provide me with any worthwhile info. Sure, preferences play a big part in it, but behind every preference there's often a complex reason for it, and that reason is what I'm trying to find out.

I don't really see why it needs to be more complex than people enjoy a challenge? The randomness and variety, the challenge, the discovery and exploration, together that can be alot of fun.

Saelune:
I don't really see why it needs to be more complex than people enjoy a challenge? The randomness and variety, the challenge, the discovery and exploration, together that can be alot of fun.

Because I'm baffled as to why people enjoy such an unreasonably unfair challenge, that's more luck than skill-based, and pretty much borderline impossible to complete, over a fair and well-thought-out one.

ninja666:

Saelune:
I don't really see why it needs to be more complex than people enjoy a challenge? The randomness and variety, the challenge, the discovery and exploration, together that can be alot of fun.

Because I'm baffled as to why people enjoy such an unreasonably unfair challenge, that's more luck than skill-based, and pretty much borderline impossible to complete, over a fair and well-thought-out one.

Maybe you just played a really shitty one? Not all Rogue-Likes are created equal, games can just be a bad version of whatever genre it is going for.

You can be good at them. Like Binding of Isaac, you can be good at it, but you can also get lucky and get stuff that makes it easier, but if you're good at avoiding the bullet-hell like projectiles, you can succeed on a 'bad' run.

Plus many rogue-likes are meant to be not super long, so you get a bad run, whatever, you die and try again. Binding if Isaac isnt a long game.

Saelune:
Maybe you just played a really shitty one? Not all Rogue-Likes are created equal, games can just be a bad version of whatever genre it is going for.

I played Nuclear Throne, Enter the Gungeon, and Dungeons of Dredmor. Those are supposed to the the top of the line ones, right? My experience with all of them was pretty similar - I could see the appeal of randomly generated levels, but couldn't understand why the game pretty much resets itself every time I die, taking all of my stuff away and dumping me on a completely different-looking level, instead of letting me master the one it generated for me five minutes ago, with the playstyle it decided to give me.

ninja666:

Saelune:
Maybe you just played a really shitty one? Not all Rogue-Likes are created equal, games can just be a bad version of whatever genre it is going for.

I played Nuclear Throne, Enter the Gungeon, and Dungeons of Dredmor. Those are supposed to the the top of the line ones, right? My experience with all of them was pretty similar - I could see the appeal of randomly generated levels, but couldn't understand why the game pretty much resets itself every time I die, taking all of my stuff away and dumping me on a completely different-looking level, instead of letting me master the one it generated for me five minutes ago.

I haven't actually played any of those.

I really think it is just not for you maybe? If the loss of progress ruins your fun, you don't have to play them.

Saelune:
I really think it is just not for you maybe? If the loss of progress ruins your fun, you don't have to play them.

I already know they're not for me and I'm not going to touch them with a ten foot pole. What I was trying to achieve with this thread was understanding what other people see in this genre. So far, I didn't get any definite answer other than "because that's what they prefer", so that remains to be seen.

ninja666:

Saelune:
I really think it is just not for you maybe? If the loss of progress ruins your fun, you don't have to play them.

I already know they're not for me and I'm not going to touch them with a ten foot pole. What I was trying to achieve with this thread was understanding what other people see in this genre. So far, I didn't get any definite answer other than "because that's what they prefer", so that remains to be seen.

I think I did give a definite answer, you just did not like them.

Saelune:

ninja666:

Saelune:
The challenge is fun. Succeeding when there is that risk makes it fun for some people. Why do people do Nuzlocke challenges in pokemon? Cause that risk adds to the challenge which adds to the reward of success. The same reason people play games on higher difficulty even though easy mode is available too.

Is there a more elaborate answer to that, than "just because some people prefer it that way"? Because that kind of answer doesn't really provide me with any worthwhile info. Sure, preferences play a big part in it, but behind every preference there's often a complex reason for it, and that reason is what I'm trying to find out.

I don't really see why it needs to be more complex than people enjoy a challenge? The randomness and variety, the challenge, the discovery and exploration, together that can be alot of fun.

Saelune:
I think I did give a definite answer, you just did not like them.

I didn't like it because it wasn't informative at all. Sure, they like the challenge, but why exactly that type of challenge, when there are lots and lots of better designed games, that are still challenging, while not being unnecessarily punishing? That you didn't explain and it pretty much just boiled down to "because they prefer it that way".

The one that I hate the most is Sunless Sea, because every death resets all your progress. The map changes, enemies shuffle around, and mission quests change places. So your hundredth run is just as successful as your first, meaning not. And I don't get the appeal. You literally never make any progress.

Vendor-Lazarus:
The random elements in Rogue-like & lites is the main draw, because it favors re-play, exploration/discovery and emergent gameplay properties.

Well, every game has exploration and discovery, and replayability is such an overrated value. There are so many games out there, way more than anyone could play in a lifetime. Why should I care if I can't replay a game?

Randomization in a game indicates laziness and a lack of creativity.

ninja666:

Saelune:
I think I did give a definite answer, you just did not like them.

I didn't like it because it wasn't informative at all. Sure, they like the challenge, but why exactly that type of challenge, when there are lots and lots of games, that are still challenging, while not being unnecessarily punishing. That you didn't explain and it pretty much just boiled down to "because they prefer it that way".

The risk makes it fun.

I play Diablo 3 on Hardcore mode. I don't HAVE to, but I do, cause when I succeed it feels better not having the safety of revival. And I prefer the randomized mode (I forget what its called) instead of story mode cause I like the randomness and variety.

Its different, its hard, its fun cause I succeeded at a greater challenge than people who aren't as good as I am. It is different to play a game without the safety of reviving.

Terraria is another game where you don't HAVE to play with perma-death, but you can, and everything you do in that is more rewarding knowing you did not rely on the safety of revival, cause normal Terraria, death is abused to make the game easier. Suddenly you cant just die and revive on the surface, you have to actually get back or find an item that TPs you.

Challenge is a perfectly valid answer.

Blood Brain Barrier:

Vendor-Lazarus:
The random elements in Rogue-like & lites is the main draw, because it favors re-play, exploration/discovery and emergent gameplay properties.

Well, every game has exploration and discovery, and replayability is such an overrated value. There are so many games out there, way more than anyone could play in a lifetime. Why should I care if I can't replay a game?

Randomization in a game indicates laziness and a lack of creativity.

Replayability is an underrated value, not every game has exploration and discovery, and certainly not every game has good and rewarding exploration and discovery. Good randomization is not lazy or simple.

Saelune:

Blood Brain Barrier:

Vendor-Lazarus:
The random elements in Rogue-like & lites is the main draw, because it favors re-play, exploration/discovery and emergent gameplay properties.

Well, every game has exploration and discovery, and replayability is such an overrated value. There are so many games out there, way more than anyone could play in a lifetime. Why should I care if I can't replay a game?

Randomization in a game indicates laziness and a lack of creativity.

Replayability is an underrated value, not every game has exploration and discovery, and certainly not every game has good and rewarding exploration and discovery. Good randomization is not lazy or simple.

A good game needs both. Take Bloodborne. The main story is pretty straight forward and easy to follow, if not play through. Then the chalice dungeons offer randomization and replay-ability for those who just want more Bloodborne but don't want to replay the story.

Or take Diablo 2. The story is always the same, but the loot and random dungeons gives each playthrough a unique feel.

Silentpony:

Saelune:

Blood Brain Barrier:

Well, every game has exploration and discovery, and replayability is such an overrated value. There are so many games out there, way more than anyone could play in a lifetime. Why should I care if I can't replay a game?

Randomization in a game indicates laziness and a lack of creativity.

Replayability is an underrated value, not every game has exploration and discovery, and certainly not every game has good and rewarding exploration and discovery. Good randomization is not lazy or simple.

A good game needs both. Take Bloodborne. The main story is pretty straight forward and easy to follow, if not play through. Then the chalice dungeons offer randomization and replay-ability for those who just want more Bloodborne but don't want to replay the story.

Or take Diablo 2. The story is always the same, but the loot and random dungeons gives each playthrough a unique feel.

A good game doesn't need both. A good game does what it intends to do well. Not every game needs to appeal to everyone. I don't like sports games, I don't need them to appeal to me though.

ninja666:
It's a game genre where everything is randomized - the level layout, the enemy placement, the loot... You basically can't get better at the game by learning it due to all of those constantly changing,

But... you can get better. When i started playing The Binding of Isaac, it would take me many, many tries to even get past couple of first levels. After a while, though, getting to Mom(the first main boss) took me under an hour, each playthrough, while cleaning every level 100%.

and yet the game has the audacity to punish you by making you lose all of your progress when you don't learn from your mistakes. I'm sorry, what mistakes? The mistake of not predicting there was going to be three enemies, that weren't there before, standing behind the corner that wasn't there before?

The mistake of not applying what you've learned on subsequent playthroughs, to randomized situations on the playfield. And sure, in many of these situations, bad luck can still fuck you over.
What you described above is memorizing the level, and fixing what killed you before. A tactic which, due to random nature of roguelikes, doesn't have place in them.

And loosing all your progress shouldn't be a big deal in a good roguelike, because
a) they are relatively short(like i mention before, clearing the "main quest" in TBOI should take you under an hour, after you get better), compared to other games.
b) you won't encounter the same layout, or enemies. See, it may be fun to you, but for me, repeating the same fragments of a game, because of a glitch/personal fuck up, whatever, is the opposite of it. Probably why i very rarely replay games. Roguelites, for people like me, are fun, because you won't be facing the same situation another time.

Repetition is the crux of these games, and permadeth and randomization kinda go hand in hand in their case.

As to why that gameplay style appeals to some people, but not you... i can't really say. Maybe it's due to specific gameplay loop, or maybe it affects the risk/reward system.
Think of roguelikes as you'd think of gambling. It also have a huge luck factor, yet people are willing to waste tons of their time AND money on it.

ninja666:
It's a game genre where everything is randomized - the level layout, the enemy placement, the loot... You basically can't get better at the game by learning it due to all of those constantly changing, and yet the game has the audacity to punish you by making you lose all of your progress when you don't learn from your mistakes. I'm sorry, what mistakes? The mistake of not predicting there was going to be three enemies, that weren't there before, standing behind the corner that wasn't there before?

That's actually kind of the appeal. Look at it from the other perspective, at linear games. You don't beat linear games because you're actually any good at them, you beat them because through repeated trial and error you know the level layouts, where the enemies are and how many there are, where the reinforcements will come from, where all the health packs are, and all the rest. Armed with such supreme knowledge how could anyone *not* beat a game like that? Roguelikes are enjoyable because although you can learn (indeed need to learn) the core mechanics, the situations in which those mechanics must be applied are constantly changing, meaning that success relies not on memorization-by-rote but on the player's ability to think quickly on their feet.

There is also something to be said for replay value. I have, for example, replayed Halo: Reach maybe two dozen times and you know what? I played the same game each time, killing the same enemies with the same weapons in the same locations on the same levels on my way to completing the same missions. I have also replayed ADOM over one hundred times, and I have never had two games the same. Ever.

As someone who really enjoys the genre, I think I can try to explain. This might be a bit rambly, though.

Roguelikes give you potentially infinite opportunities to solve encounters within the game's set of rules, while changing up the parameters of the encounter every time. It's a genre based almost entirely on the idea of improvising solutions on the fly with whatever you have on hand, which can get seriously engrossing when you start learning your toolset.

Although honestly, I think Roguelites are better than pure roguelikes, purely on the merit of either unlocking new tools for you to use, or by giving you new toys to play with to add content to the game.

The randomness is important because it changes up the encounters every time so you can't just go "Ok, new run. Right, go to that room, get the ice sword as usual, then kill those three goblins over there, then backtrack over there and ambush the kobolds about to ambush me, don't step on that trap over there..." and thus reduce each new run to a simple checklist you need to follow. By scrambling the encounters, it forces you to always be on watch and improvise.

That being said, the random factor is very important to get right. Too much randomness and it's impossible to learn the game and get better at it. Too little randomness and the game stops throwing interesting challenges at you.

As for the challenge...Well, if it's not challenging, then you don't need to think or plan to get through the encounters. You can just more or less "bleh" through them. Yeah, it's still fun because there's technically endless content to solve, but making it challenging pushes you to learn every single thing about the game that you can so you can win.

It's another thing that's super important to get right. Too easy and the game doesn't push you to learn it. Too hard and it's just frustrating.

ninja666:

and yet the game has the audacity to punish you by making you lose all of your progress when you don't learn from your mistakes. I'm sorry, what mistakes? The mistake of not predicting there was going to be three enemies, that weren't there before, standing behind the corner that wasn't there before?

Sounds like you've played a lot of bad ones.

Let me give you some examples.

Good: FTL - Faster Than Light.

Yatzee reviewed this one and explained why he found it fun. Basically, you start off with a single ship and need to make it to the other end of a hostile set of space sectors. As you do runs and die horribly, you start to learn the kinds of encounters you'll come up against. You'll learn that under no circumstance should you mess around with Alien Spiders. You'll learn that when those pirates board your ship, a good plan is to open all the airlocks except the medbay and hide your guys in there. You'll learn that going into Engi-Controlled space often has many favorable encoutners, and that Nebulas buy you lots of time, but make encounters more tricky and are often filled with Slugs.

Then, you start learning the different weapons and systems. You learn which weapons you like and should be trying to buy, you learn how to make do with Drones if you get a bunch, etc etc. And then you learn how to use the game's systems to their fullest like flipping power on and off from your modules as you need them, and advanced stuff like boarding parties, disabling weapons and oxygen, etc.

The first few runs of the game will see you die long before you get to the boss. But as you master the game you'll find it easier and easier to get there. Yeah, you might have the occasional bit of bad luck and not find any gear you like or get too many hard encounters at once, but you'll generally be able to improvise your way out of trouble.

And finally, the game rewards you with new ships with alternative play-styles for reaching certain milestones, giving you more variety.

FTL gives you a near-perfect mix of challenge, randomness and non-random elements that you can figure the game out and get good at it, while still being surprised every now and then, and still needing you to improvise in the face of trouble.

Good: Hand of Fate (1 and 2)

Hand of Fate takes things more bite-sized. Basically, each chapter is represented by a set of specific and unique cards that you move your character around on, each one generating an encounter. Sometimes it's a set of choices, other times, it's an action combat scene, other times it's a test of luck (with some room for the player to read the sequence) or reflexes, etc.

Because the encounter deck for each chapter remains the same, you might not know when "Horde of Ratmen" will show up or where you'll find a shop, but you'll soon realize that there is always 2 "horde of ratmen" cards and 3 shops.

You'll also learn what cards have set locations, and what each encounter does, so you can better prepare. See, you can choose your own cards to put into the chapter's deck. This one has a lot of ratmen? Load in weapons that do bonus damage to them. This chapter has a mechanic that drains your food? That "Cart of Food" encounter card will come in handy. Need lots of money or good weapons? "The Duel" is a relatively safe encounter that can give you stuff. The chapter is one giant field of cards full of nasty ones that drain your resources? Take along cards that reveal other cards so that you have a better chance at revealing potential trouble and saving you from potentially landing on them.

Then, there's the fact that lots of cards can unlock new ones if you solve their encounter in a specific way, and some of the ones that unlock after a chain of other unlocks can be hugely beneficial with little or no setback.

In this way, each chapter is about understanding what challenges await you, learning how to defuse them, and what cards you should take along to help you mitigate whatever gets hurled at you. And it also needs you to get good at the Arkham style combat, which has no luck factor. Yes, sometimes a bad run happens and you get screwed by the wrong encounters at the wrong time, but more often than not you can weasel your way out of a bad situation with the right preparation.

Good, but very niche: Risk of Rain.

Risk of Rain is a straight up no-frills action game. You have your little dude with 4 abilities facing off against an endless horde of enemies that get harder the longer the game goes on. The game randomly spawns treasure for you, and you need to make do with what you find to get an edge. Sometimes you have a choice of items (so if you know an item is one that works well with your character you can snap it up), but more often than not you have to make do with what you find.

It's pretty much a game that you play purely for enjoying a frantic struggle against hordes of enemies. What makes it really neat though is that by meeting certain challenges you will unlock new items that can show up in later runs, giving you more things to play with. Also, meeting certain challenges unlocks new characters with drastically different play-styles. This gives you an ever increasing variety of helpful stuff that the game can hurl at your face.

If replaying similar levels over and over with similar enemies and mostly random loot ticks you off, though, this game is definitely not for you. But if you want a mostly reflex based relentless action game with lots of characters, you'll enjoy it, and the random loot will be a fun extra that throw you curveballs every now and again.

Bad: Wizard of Legend.

This game does the whole "Getting stronger to improvise better" thing badly.

Unlocking new spells and stuff to take into the dungeon is useless once you have a really good set because what you can take in is so limited. That and how much money you make on each dungeon floor is so limited that the variety is severely constrained.

It's not bad as a pure action game (like risk of rain you don't need to learn your encounters much to make it), but it lacks the "ooh, neat I found a new thing, must loot level for all the neat things" that makes Risk of Rain fun.

Basically, it has all the hallmarks of a roguelite but without giving you a sense of reward and progression and where the encounters you learn are mostly very simple action.

BAD BAD TERRIBLE BAD: Hack Slash Loot.

If you ever played this, I am so sorry for you.

This game is the epitome of shit roguelikes. Your quote about "random encounters that you can't see coming" is this game personified. There's no unique skills to master to get good at the game, there's no way to learn the encounters, the entire game is literally just "Attack whatever comes at you, pray you get good loot, hope you only get one monster at a time, hope you get a Divine Weapon to boost your stats and heal you, if any of these things goes wrong, you dead". And worst of all, the only things you unlock are new classes that....Play exactly the same as each other with the only difference being "Do you attack in melee or at range?". And you unlock them by dying a lot.

Good roguelike/lite games have enough randomness to keep things interesting, but give you enough control to learn the game and get better at it. They give you more tools or toys to use the more you play, to give you more variety and paths to success. Hack Slash Loot is just a slot machine.

--

Hopefully this long ramble gave you a better idea of why some of us like the genre.

TLDR:
- Infinite encounters to solve
- good ones give you the opportunity to learn the rules or encounters or tools to give yourself an edge
- good ones give you a feeling like you're unlocking new options or tools even if you fail to beat the game.
- good ones challenge you fully learn the mechanics for every advantage you can get.

So I missed a critical post while writing my giant one...

ninja666:
I played Nuclear Throne, Enter the Gungeon, and Dungeons of Dredmor. Those are supposed to the the top of the line ones, right?

Ouf, no wonder you have this opinion.

I haven't played nuclear throne, can't comment.

Enter the Gungeon falls under the "Action game with endless remixing" thing which in my opinion is pretty niche and isn't really the best way to get into roguelikes.

And Dungeons of Dredmor is pretty damn meh. It's a "classic" roguelike which is really hard to get into because there's a bjaillion systems to learn and you can't really learn the encounters so much and there's little sense of tangible progress or learning across runs.

If you wanted to give the rogueLITE genre another shot, I'd probably recommend Hand of Fate 2 as it gives you the most tangible sense of progress and control, as well as the ability to better learn and prepare for the puzzles and challenges ahead. (also, hand of fate 2 is more interesting than the first one, IMO)

ninja666:
You basically can't get better at the game by learning it due to all of those constantly changing

Level layout isn't the only thing one can learn in a game, and not everything is completely randomized. You won't find end-game enemies and obstacles in level 1. What you learn is what kind of obstacles you may encounter in each tier and how to optimize your resources so they last in later levels. You may not found the same enemy in the exact same location, but high chances are that the next time you'll find that same enemy somewhere in the same level (and enemies attack patterns don't change with every run).

ninja666:
yet the game has the audacity to punish you by making you lose all of your progress

Modern rogue-likes unlock starting advantage (gear, characters, abilities, etc) for your next run when you reach far enough. That makes the first levels far easier. Other rogue-likes allows you to completely skip early levels after reaching a specific checkpoint.

ninja666:
Seriously, what's the appeal? Because to me, this genre sounds like the counter-definition of a fun game.

The best rogue-like aren't 100% combat. They have random events of decision making that you can learn how to take full advantage.

Lots of people find more fun to start from zero over and over. Replayability with fun and/or engaging mechanics is the first appeal. The second appeal comes more from their individual "gimmicks" (rogue-likes are relatively short, so the gimmick doesn't outlast its welcome, and the randomness gives opportunity to experiment with it frequently). Without their "gimmick" to give it uniqueness, they would be just a bunch of subpar dungeon crawlers.

You should try the ones that have something more than relentless combat? FTL: Fastest Than Light, Hand of Fate, Crypt of the NecroDancer (OK, the last one is pretty combat heavy, but it's generous with the unlockable upgrades).

Saelune:
But I would be down for a Dark Souls Rogue-like. (Seriously that would be awesome)

The closest I have seen to that is Let It Die and Bloodborne's Root Chalice Dungeons. A proper Dark Souls rogue-like would certainly be an accomplishment.

Silentpony:
The one that I hate the most is Sunless Sea, because every death resets all your progress. The map changes, enemies shuffle around, and mission quests change places. So your hundredth run is just as successful as your first, meaning not. And I don't get the appeal. You literally never make any progress.

It's not entirely true. You can carry over some cash and certain character traits if you make the appropriate preparation before your character dies(such as having a kid).

That and there's a manual save available which can cut down on a fair bit of the risk if you're not so much in Sunless Sea for the roguelike bits but like the atmosphere and writing.

ninja666:

It's a game genre where everything is randomized - the level layout, the enemy placement, the loot... You basically can't get better at the game by learning it due to all of those constantly changing, and yet the game has the audacity to punish you by making you lose all of your progress when you don't learn from your mistakes. I'm sorry, what mistakes? The mistake of not predicting there was going to be three enemies, that weren't there before, standing behind the corner that wasn't there before?

Thats certainly true of a horribly designed roguelike.

*Good* rogue likes usually have curated RNG. Power ups aren't completely even chances and potentially even some drops are set to increase to chance of synergistic drops. Encounters and levels aren't just paint splattered, they're designed and simply inserted in different orders. There's almost always a meta-progression that unlocks more gameplay options over time and/or gradually increases your strength.

Bad roguelikes are a dime a dozen of course. Its a easy route to just make 1/50th of a game then randomize-repeat runs to pad it out.

The appeal is often a throwback to the style of older arcade games. You can pick up the game and play an hour long complete run. Complete plays in bite=size chunks compared to the time commitment of trying to wade through 30-40 hour games. They also tend to have (again in good cases) a tight gameplay focus, a stark contrast to the do everything sort of average at best that marks the current AA/AAA scene.

ninja666:

I played Nuclear Throne, Enter the Gungeon, and Dungeons of Dredmor.

Having only played Gungeon out of those (back around when it launched, so they may have patched it up), but that was easily a big disappointment from me. Conceptually a good idea, taking Binding of Isaac and giving the core gameplay a bit of an update for an action feel. But inane levels of RNG, a shoddy item pool to start with (way too many joke weapons that don't pass mustard in later levels, even compared to the starting gun), and way too sparse loot drops/limited ammo on the ones you did get. And essentially no meta-progression to speak of.

Dead Cells is probably the most recent one I'd recommend. as specifics go.

Novelty of finding new items, the feeling of learning how the mechanics work and doing better each time, it being more bite sized so you can only play one run if you don't have a lot of time on hand (I've seen this be a really important factor for people who are getting older and have less free time) the randomization keeping things fresh (replaying something would get a bit stale if it was always same), rougelites with permanent upgrades over playthroughs have a feeling of progression and you overall feel like you're getting better (Rogue Legacy was great at this) and of course the feeling of euphoria after beating a tough challenge.

Because, when done right, they had a ton of repeatability while being just unfamiliar enough to be enjoyed.

While I ADORE games like Contra, even though I suck at them, seeing the SAME DAMN LEVEL over and OVER AGAIN...eventually saps the fun out of the game.

At least in a GOOD rogue game you know sort of what's coming, but it isn't so much the same that you get lazy/bored.

Rapidly said, you feel like YOU are getting better at the game, rather than either your character getting better, or you simply remembering patterns.

I really, really appreciate the feeling of improving without memorizing the game, which roguelikes/lites gives you in spares.

They are primarily for the brand of gamer who suffers from acute boredom or masochism. Or both. Closest I've tried is Darkest Dungeon and after clearing 4-5 levels I realized I just wasn't cool enough to continue on.

Right click>Delete Local Game Content

I'll admit the game really has an eclectic, somewhat charming personality though...like a juicy, bourbon-infused kabob on a rusted iron spike concealed by a shiny, polished handle.

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