The Best Roguelikes on Steam

Roguelike games are loved by serious gamers for their tough challenges and surprises. These games rely on unpredictability and require careful planning. On the gaming platform Steam, there is a wide selection of roguelike games, each offering a unique and difficult experience with every new game, complete with engaging stories and tough gameplay.

Games in the roguelike genre combine RPG elements and survival elements, notable for their “permadeath” feature where players start over when they die, making each playthrough unique. One distinct feature of many roguelikes is their use of ASCII graphics, simple text-based symbols that create the game’s visuals. This style challenges players to interpret these symbols creatively, adding depth to the gameplay. 

Rogue-like games influence game design significantly, particularly in how they handle game mechanics like level design and the balance of risk and reward. They often include RPG art, which adds storytelling and character development to the gameplay.

The best games in roguelike genre

Good roguelike games are known for their challenging and unpredictable gameplay, where losing means starting over from scratch. This makes each playthrough unique and exciting. We’ll explore the fun roguelike games that stand out for their clever roguelike game designs and engaging stories. Whether you’re new to this genre or a seasoned player, this list of roguelike games promise to keep you hooked with their strategic depth and thrilling challenges.

10. Codename: Ocean Keeper

Codename: Ocean Keeper is an upcoming new roguelike game that is set in the depths of underwater exploration and survival. With the upcoming release in July 2024, this game combines the unpredictability of roguelike mechanics with a rich, oceanic setting. Mix different weapons to make your special setup. This setup will help you survive longer and discover the secrets of the ocean. Players can expect a dynamic environment filled with mysterious sea creatures and challenging underwater terrains, testing their ability to adapt and survive.

What sets Codename: Ocean Keeper apart is its focus on deep-sea adventures, where each dive brings new surprises and strategic decisions. The game is designed to keep you on your toes, with each playthrough offering new encounters and obstacles. For more details on this exciting release, you can visit its Steam page here, and see what makes this new roguelike game a must-try.

Roguelike survival game Ocean Keeper with isometric perspective

9. Crab Champions

Crab Champions is a fast-paced third-person shooter with a unique twist, combining fluid movement and combative gameplay within a roguelike structure. Set on exotic islands, players step into the claws of a crab, tasked with navigating treacherous terrain, battling fierce enemies, and gathering loot to become the ultimate Crab Champion.

The game stands out with its vibrant art style, which brings a colorful and comical charm to the genre. The visuals are a playful mix of realistic textures, and exaggerated and cartoonish character design.

With a release date of January 2023, the Crab Champions game is already gaining attention for its innovative approach and exciting art. You can check out more about the game and get ready to jump into the action on its Steam page here.

Action-packed roguelike survival game Ocean Keeper

8. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a casual art style game released on November 4th, 2014. The game’s art is dark and raw, set in a desolate and disconcerting atmosphere that perfectly complements its roguelike gameplay elements. Its visual narrative with hand-drawn pixel art style, is as much a part of the experience as the gameplay itself.

With hundreds of unique items, enemies, and room designs, Rebirth creates a disturbing yet fascinating universe that players can’t help but explore. The game pushes boundaries with its themes and visuals, leading players down a rabbit hole of surreal encounters and twisted challenges. 

To experience this masterpiece of gaming art and take on the challenge yourself, visit its Steam page here.

Casual roguelike game The Binding of Isaak Rebirth

7. PlateUp!

PlateUp! is one of those multiplayer games with character customization. It serves up a delicious mix of cooking, management, and roguelike elements, all wrapped in a charming and stylized art package. This multiplayer game, released on April 4th, 2022, invites players to wear their chef hats and manage a restaurant. From the kitchen’s sizzling pans to the patrons’ filled tables, the art is colorful, and inviting. 

As a multiplayer game, PlateUp! stands out with its emphasis on cooperative gameplay. Players can customize their characters, adding a personal touch to the frenetic kitchen escapades. The art style, with its clean lines and playful character designs, complements the engaging gameplay, creating a delightful world where every plate served is a shared victory.  

If you’re interested, visit Steam’s page here.

Multiplayer roguelike game with character customization PlateUp

6. Dead Cells

Speaking of 2D roguelike games, Dead Cells is a rogue-lite, Metroidvania-inspired action platformer with a rich art style that has captured the hearts of players since its release on August 7, 2018. The game is fast-paced in a grim 2D world. Its artistry shines with every slash and dodge, illustrated through beautifully hand-drawn graphics that combine gothic elements with a modern, pixelated style. The game’s level design and enemy characters are all presented in a striking color palette.

The artistic detail in Dead Cells extends to the dynamic backgrounds and the smooth animations, providing visual storytelling that is both compelling and eerily charming. The use of lighting and shadows adds depth to the world, making every leap and battle a breathtaking experience. 

To explore the cursed island of Dead Cells and experience the award-winning combination of action and art, visit the game’s Steam page here.

2D roguelike game Dead Cells

5. Don’t Starve

Don’t Starve is at the top of the best-looking isometric game list. It is a beautifully grim adventure that wraps the player in a cloak of darkness and mystery. Released on April 23, 2013, it is a game that has defined the survival genre with its unique art style and challenging gameplay. 

The art with survival game characters and environments is set in a hauntingly Edwardian cartoon style that is both creepy and appealing. The game’s visuals evoke a sense of loneliness and hopelessness, while the rich color palette emphasizes the theme of survival.

For more on the creative process behind such captivating characters and worlds, we offer an in-depth look at survival game creation. If you’re interested in the distinctive art of Don’t Starve characters and their world, visit the game’s Steam page here. 

The best looking isometric roguelike game Don't Starve

4. Inscryption

Inscryption blends deck-building roguelike mechanics with a dark narrative. Released on October 19, 2021, its art is a mesmerizing combination of cryptic symbols, mysterious environments, and shadowy figures that create a sense of intrigue and foreboding. The game’s visual storytelling is exceptional, with each card and character bearing a distinctive look that adds depth to the overall atmosphere. The art, dark and atmospheric, is laden with a horror aesthetic that makes gameplay both unsettling and fascinating.

Dive into the cryptic world of Inscryption and experience its artistic mastery by visiting the game’s Steam page here.

Deck-building game with roguelike mechanics Inscryption

3. Vampire Survivors

Vampire Survivors is on the hardest roguelikes games list. It was released on April 20, 2022, the game employs a pixel-art aesthetic that harkens back to the golden era of gaming, while adding its own modern, chaotic flair. 

The art style of Vampire Survivors stands out with its colorful, detailed sprites against dark, brooding backdrops, perfectly encapsulating the game’s survival-horror theme. Among the hordes of enemies, the game’s visuals keep the action clear and exciting, ensuring that the player’s experience is both challenging and visually engaging. 

To endure the hordes of night creatures and embrace the retro-inspired art of Vampire Survivors, you can visit the game’s Steam page here.

The hardest roguelike game Vampire Survivors

2. Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire merges the depth of deck-building with the intense strategy of roguelikes to offer an endlessly replayable single-player experience. Since its release on January 23, 2019, the game has captivated players with its stylized art, blending elements of fantasy with a hand-drawn aesthetic that gives each card and character a distinct personality.

The art of Slay the Spire uses color and form to show the fantastical elements of its world, from the menacing creatures and bosses to the designs of the Spire itself. 

To climb the Spire and build your deck with care, head to the game’s Steam page here.

Deck-building roguelike game Slay the Spire

1. Hades

This game is on the list of the best action roguelikes. Hades is an exceptional title that masterfully intertwines roguelike dynamics with a deep narrative, all set in a beautifully imagined mythological world. 

Since its release on December 17, 2019, the game has been impressing players with its rich, hand-painted art style that brings each character and environment to life with vibrant color and dynamic motion.

The artistic craftsmanship is evident in every aspect of Hades, from the detailed character designs that reflect the personalities of gods, heroes, and monsters of Greek mythology, to the varied and atmospheric settings of the Underworld. With its fusion of compelling storytelling and eye-catching art, Hades delivers an unforgettable adventure where every run is as visually engaging as it is thrilling. Visit the game’s Steam page here.

The best action roguelike game Hades

Top 5 Most Played Roguelike Games

Rank
Game
All-Time Peak
Developer
Release Date
Description
1
Rotwood
25,312
Klei Entertainment
24 April 2024
A chaotic world where players fight against corrupted beasts, choosing weapons and skills to defend their haven.
2
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
70,701
Nicalis, Inc., Edmund McMillen
4 November 2014
A procedurally generated roguelike RPG shooter with heavy roguelike elements, where players explore and fight to survive.
3
Deep Rock Galactic
46,687
Ghost Ship Games
13 May 2020
A co-op FPS where players work as space dwarves, exploring caves and battling alien hordes.
4
Death Must Die
15,905
Realm Archive
14 November 2023
Players go into the nether, using godly powers to confront Death and his minions in this roguelike game.
5
Brotato
32,216
Blobfish
23 June 2023
Play as a potato character using an arsenal to fend off alien invasions in this top-down shooter roguelite.

Beginner Tips for Playing Roguelikes

Roguelike games, known for their challenging gameplay and procedurally generated levels, can be hard for newcomers. However, with a few beginner tips, you read a guide on how to play those games more effectively.

Choosing Your First Roguelike

  • 1

    Research game complexity

    Some roguelikes are more complex than others. Begin with games that are known for being beginner-friendly, it’s better to play roguelike games on PC so you can have better control of the environment, but mobile is fine too. Look for titles with straightforward mechanics and clear objectives.

  • 2

    Read reviews and watch gameplay

    Before diving into a game, read reviews and watch gameplay videos to understand the game's pace and style. This can help you find a roguelike that matches your preferred level of challenge and pacing.

  • 3

    Consider the theme

    Roguelikes come in all shapes and themes, from dungeon crawlers to space adventures. Pick one that intrigues you, as a compelling setting can make the learning curve more enjoyable.

Tips how to choose your first roguelike

Strategies for Beginners

  • 1

    Patience is key

    Roguelikes are about learning through failure. Take your time to understand the game mechanics and don't rush through levels.

  • 2

    Start with simple characters or classes

    Many roguelikes offer a variety of characters or classes with different abilities. Start with the simplest one to get a feel for the game before trying out more complex characters.

  • 3

    Read the tooltips

    Information is power in roguelikes. Hover over items, enemies, and skills to read tooltips that provide valuable insights into how they work.

Learning from the Game Process

  • 1

    Take note of patterns

    Roguelikes often have patterns in enemy behavior, trap placements, and room layouts. Recognize these patterns to predict and avoid dangers.

  • 2

    Experiment with items

    Don't be afraid to use items to see what they do. You'll need to know how to best utilize your inventory to progress.

  • 3

    Embrace death

    Each defeat is a lesson. Reflect on what went wrong and adjust your strategy accordingly. Over time, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of the game.

  • 4

    Manage resources wisely

    Conservation is important. Learn when to use your potions, scrolls, and other limited resources.

  • 5

    Analyze your runs

    After each run, take a moment to think about what items, strategies, and paths worked well and which ones didn't.

Tips how to learn from the game process

Roguelike games are hard and challenging but rewarding. As a beginner, focus on gradual improvement and learning from each playthrough. With patience and practice, you’ll not only get better at your first roguelike but also build a solid foundation for exploring other games in the genre. 

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about roguelike games

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a great starting point due to its balance of approachability and depth. Slay the Spire is also beginner-friendly, thanks to its turn-based, strategic deck-building mechanics.

Levels in roguelikes are typically created through procedural generation algorithms that ensure new, playable layouts with each run, using a mix of randomization and set rules to keep the gameplay fair and engaging.