Best Action Roguelikes

Action roguelikes are a type of video game that mixes the thrill of real-time combat with the unpredictable challenges of roguelike games. In these games, you usually fight through randomly generated levels, face off against various enemies, and use different weapons and power-ups that you find along the way. Each time you play an action roguelike, the experience is different because the levels and the items you find change.

Top of the best action roguelike video games

Mobile game trends also dictate how video games will look, and one of the reasons why roguelike games are getting more famous is that they are usually played on mobile. A good roguelike game keeps things exciting by making sure that no two playthroughs are the same.

This unpredictability of action roguelike games is what makes them fun and challenging. In a good roguelike, players should feel like they’re constantly learning and improving, even if they’re starting over from the beginning after a loss.

Good roguelikes also balance difficulty well; they’re tough enough to be challenging but not so hard that players feel it’s impossible to progress. Check out our list of the best action roguelike games. These games combine exciting combat with constantly changing levels, offering fun and a new challenge every time you play.

List of the Best Action Roguelikes

Vampire Survivors

Hard action roguelike with amazing gameplay mechanics Vampire Survivors

Release Date: October 2022

Price: $4.99

Vampire Survivors is a Steam action horror game with roguelike elements. Each choice you make significantly impacts you as you face off against hordes of monsters. It’s not really friendly for beginners, making it one of the hardest roguelikes. The game features minimalistic gameplay mechanics focused on survival, where you collect gold for upgrades to assist your character in lasting longer against the waves of demons that appear with the night. It supports various control devices including mouse, keyboard, and game controllers.

Even if the levels are random, so are the enemies, the boss’s design is trying to have some kind of variety. Usually, it’s a typical Death, but with different clothes on, which is pretty practical and comfortable for the designers and a trick a developer can take a peek at while making their game. If you need to make a boss but don’t know where to start, we can share some other game boss ideas.

Hades

Dynamic action roguelike with many challenges and rewards Hades

Release Date: September 2020

Price: $24.99

Hades is a dynamic action roguelike game created by one of the top gaming companies Supergiant Games. In this game you play as the son of the god of the dead, trying to escape the Underworld. Each time you play, the game changes, introducing new challenges and rewards. Supported by the powers of various gods from Olympus, each attempt teaches you new strategies and helps you get stronger. The game features engaging combat and rich storytelling, with each character you meet bringing their own unique voice and story to the experience.

It’s also notable for its cartoonish isometric art style, and some developers got inspired by the game, so, if you’re wondering about the process of making an isometric game in Unity, feel free to visit the page.

Ocean Keeper

Customization action roguelike with thrilling gameplay Ocean Keeper

Release Date: July 19, 2024

Price: 5$

In the Ocean Keeper game, you start by customizing your character and equipment in the Hub area. It’s also one of those gun customization games. Then, you head out to explore various caves and interesting sites. The next part of the game takes you deeper into dungeons where you mine for ores and find hidden artifacts.

As you gather resources, you can upgrade your gear and abilities to prepare for the challenges. The final phase involves battling waves of enemies in intense combat situations. Each phase of the game flows smoothly into the next, combining exploration, mining, strategic upgrades, and battles into thrilling gameplay.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

RPG action roguelike with unique gameplay The Binding of Isaac Rebirth

Release Date: November 2014

Price: $14.99

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is already one of the best action roguelikes. It’s a deeply engaging game where the player controls Isaac, a young boy who descends into a creepy basement to escape his mother’s extreme religious fervor. This roguelike action RPG mixes shooting with rogue-like elements, where every game session introduces new layouts and enemies.

Isaac’s journey is filled with over 450 items to discover, providing unique gameplay each time. The game supports local co-op, allowing friends to join in, and includes various features like dynamic lighting and numerous endings. With over 500 hours of gameplay, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a comprehensive and darkly entertaining experience in the rogue-like genre.

Deep Rock Galactic

Cooperative first-person shooter with action roguelike elements Deep Rock Galactic

Release Date: May 2020

Price: $29.99

Deep Rock Galactic is a cooperative first-person shooter where up to four players explore hazardous, fully destructible caves in space. Players choose from four unique classes — Gunner, Scout, Driller, and Engineer — each with specific abilities to combat alien creatures, mine resources, and navigate complex cave systems.

The game features procedurally generated missions ensuring no two adventures are the same, requiring strategic teamwork and tactical gameplay for success. The game mostly gained success after continuous posting online, especially X. Social media and gaming now are tied even more closely, especially if you don’t have enough means of marketing. 

Why Action Roguelikes Are Popular

Action roguelikes are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, appealing to gamers with their blend of challenging gameplay and nostalgic charm. These games are known for their procedural generation, where no two playthroughs are alike, offering a unique experience with each run. This unpredictability keeps the gameplay fresh and exciting.

 

The essence of roguelikes lies in their unforgiving nature. Players often face permadeath, where failure means starting over from the beginning, but this aspect adds depth to the gameplay, encouraging strategic thinking and careful decision-making. The challenge is part of the appeal, rewarding players not just with progress in the game, but with a sense of personal achievement.

Moreover, the community around roguelikes is active. Players share strategies, and stories of triumphant victories or hilarious defeats, and even collaborate on game development. This community aspect turns gaming into a shared cultural experience, deepening the connection players feel to the genre.

The popularity of action roguelikes isn’t just about playing a game; it’s about overcoming tough challenges, engaging with a supportive community, and experiencing a modern take on traditional gaming mechanics.

Popularity of action roguelikes, new gameplay experience of action roguelikes in 2024

Special Features of Action Roguelikes

Roguelikes are usually turn-based games that give players the chance to think through their moves. This style lets players strategize at their own pace, especially when they find themselves in tough spots, like being surrounded by monsters. The core of roguelike games is their use of procedural generation and permadeath. These features ensure that each game is a new and challenging adventure with plenty of replay value.

A good roguelike game does more than just challenge players; it turns every defeat into a learning opportunity, making the game fun and engaging despite its difficulty. These games often have multiple ways to progress and various strategies to explore, which adds to their depth and keeps the gameplay interesting.

Gameplay Mechanics

Combat Systems

In action roguelikes, combat is immediate and relentless, demanding players to react swiftly and strategically. These systems often incorporate a variety of weapons, abilities, and power-ups that can be combined in numerous ways to create different combat styles. This variety allows for deeply personal gameplay experiences where no two battles are exactly the same.

Combat systems gameplay mechanic in action roguelikes

Progression Systems

Progression in action roguelikes usually involves both character growth and player skill enhancement. Players can unlock new abilities or upgrade existing ones as they progress, but they also learn to play better. This dual progression system rewards both strategic planning and player adaptability, enhancing the replay value of the game.

Progression systems gameplay mechanic in action roguelikes

Interactions with Game Environment

Interactivity with the game environment in action roguelikes can vary widely but typically includes manipulating surroundings to the player’s advantage, like setting traps or using the terrain to evade enemies. Environmental elements often play a critical role in both combat and navigation, influencing the player’s tactical decisions and overall strategy.

In video games, particularly roguelikes, interacting with the environment adds a lot of depth to the gameplay. Players can manipulate things within the game world, making every object potentially useful or part of a strategy.

For example, you might find faucets that you can use to refill water bottles, or vending machines that give out items. More complex interactions include picking locks to open new areas or hacking systems to bypass obstacles. These interactions can lead to discovering secret doors or activating traps that affect gameplay.

Destructible environments are also common, allowing players to break through barriers to uncover hidden paths or resources, promoting exploration. Each playthrough can feel different because players can try new ways to interact with the environment, making the game more engaging and replayable.

Interactions with game environment in action roguelikes

Subgenres within Action Roguelikes

Action roguelikes, while cohesive in their core mechanics, diversify into several subgenres, each offering distinct gameplay experiences that cater to different player preferences. Here’s a look at some of the prominent subgenres within action roguelikes:

  • 1

    Bullet Hell Action Roguelikes

    Bullet Hell action games are known for their intense combat scenarios where the screen is often filled with a barrage of enemy projectiles. Players must dodge an overwhelming number of attacks while managing to counteract with their own. roguelike action games are built on reflexes and pattern recognition. Examples: Vampire Survivors, Streets of Rogue.

  • 2

    Hack-and-Slash Roguelikes

    Hack-and-Slash roguelikes are focusing on close-quarters combat; these games require players to engage in melee battles against hordes of enemies. Character movement and fight mechanics are crucial, with a strong emphasis on combo attacks and real-time tactical decision-making. Examples: Dead cells, Necropolis.

  • 3

    Roguelike Deck-Building Games

    Roguelike deck-building games combine card game strategies with the unpredictability of roguelike games. Players start with a basic set of cards and use them in turn-based battles. As they progress, they can add new cards to their deck from rewards or shops, making their deck stronger. The key in roguelike card game is to create powerful card combinations while managing their deck to avoid weak or useless cards. These games also feature elements like relics, which provide special bonuses and can significantly influence gameplay. The goal is to strategically build and adapt your deck to overcome challenges and enemies throughout the game. Example: Inscryption, Night of the full moon.

  • 4

    Platformer Roguelike

    Platformer roguelike include elements of platform gaming, such as jumping and climbing; roguelike platformer challenge players to navigate tricky environments while battling foes. The procedural generation of levels adds unpredictability to the platforming sequences, making precise control and timing essential. Example: Vagante, Catacomb Kids.

  • 5

    Survival Roguelites

    Survival rougelites blend the resource management and survival elements with action roguelike gameplay. In roguelite survival games players not only fight against enemies but also manage resources like food, health, and equipment durability to sustain themselves in a hostile environment.

  • 6

    Roguelite Dungeon Crawlers

    Roguelite dungeon crawlers focus on exploring complex dungeons filled with monsters, traps, and treasures. Unlike traditional roguelikes that feature permadeath and strict rules, roguelites are more forgiving, allowing players to keep some progress after dying, which encourages continuous play and learning.

    These games involve navigating through ever-changing mazes, engaging in combat, and using strategy to overcome challenges. Players can also customize their characters with various weapons and skills to match their playing style, enhancing the overall experience with diverse gameplay options. Examples: Exanima, Sword of the Stars: The Pit.

  • 7

    Metroidvania Roguelikes

    Metroidvania roguelikes combine the exploration and upgrade progression typical of Metroidvanias with the procedural generation and permadeath of roguelikes, these games reward exploration and gradually unlock new abilities that allow players to access previously unreachable areas within the game. Examples: Enter the gungeon, Ender's Lily.

Impact of Indie Game Developers

Indie game developers have made a big impact on the roguelike genre, but it’s not without its challenges. Roguelikes are games known for their need to be replayable and challenging, which requires complex design and programming. This can be tough for indie developers who often have limited resources.

Despite these challenges, indie developers have brought a lot of innovation to roguelike indie games. They often introduce new ideas and mix elements from different genres, creating unique and engaging games that might not be possible in larger studios focused on mainstream appeal. Games like The Binding of Isaac and Vampire Survivors are great examples of indie roguelikes that have gained significant popularity and influenced the genre.

Impact of indie game developers, the best indie action roguelikes

For new developers interested in making indie roguelikes, it’s important to focus on creating a game that offers both fun gameplay and lasting appeal. Engaging with the player community for feedback and support is also crucial. While the obstacles are real, the opportunity for impact and creativity in the roguelike genre is significant for those ready to invest the effort.