The Best Roguelikes on iOS and Android10 Oct 2018 17
Roguelikes are a tricky genre to pin down, seeing as the name itself began popping up everywhere at once without much structural rigour once a certain type of game started to in win players over. Conspicuous features include turn-based gameplay, usually with exploration or combat, and limited-to-no persistent progress carried across different play sessions.
Not feeling Rogue enough? How about trying out some of the best puzzle games instead.
These constraints made for entertaining, thoughtful and compact games which acquit themselves well to on-the-go bursts of play. This list includes the most classic and favorite members of the roguelike genre on mobile, as well as some unusual hybrids, noteworthy and exciting in their own right.
The Pocket Tactics readership has thrown up a bunch of games they think are excellent examples of the rogue-like genre. Because we're not able to include all of them, we'll list notable recommendations here. Some might rotated into the main list below, otherwise they'll remain here:
- Quest of Dungeons
- Cardinal Quest
- Pixel Dungeon
- Sword of Fargoal
- 100 Rogues
- Out There
- Hyper Rogue
- Look, Your Loot
- Pocket Realms
- Rogue Cards
- Binding of Issac: Rebirth
Sir Questionnaire (Review)
For some, Sir Questionnaire will be just too casual and undemanding to maintain interest. The decisions are simple, and the constant switching of inventory items can also get a little tiresome. However, for the rest of us, this is without question a spiffing release. Orange Pixel have again managed to capture that magic ingredient, producing a game that it is both quick and compulsive, as you rapidly move from room to room with the tap of a button or two. Sir Questionnaire serves up progress and rewards in a quick and addictive flurry of activity. The question is, do you want a highly addictive, reasonably priced, constantly improving, simple and fast playing dungeon delver? Yes or No?
Hoplite might very well delight that wight who likes only the right sort of roguelike. The hoplites of history aren’t usually considered lone wolves or heroes, but this is exactly what the game casts you as: one nameless figure on a tight hexa-based on a quest to retrieve the golden fleece. Soldiering across levels of escalating difficulty, visiting temples to get incremental bonuses. The movement and decisions are simple, just a series of swipes along with the odd special ability. Small numbers and single turns are always decisive, and the ability effects are simple yet profound, little deus ex machinas bestowed each level. The skill synergies are tantalizing enough to draw you in, and the fiendishly difficult achievements (pacifist run, anyone?) will keep even veterans engaged. This one is a relic of the genre that is sterling.
Road Not Taken (Review)
In Road Not Taken, the winter is harsh and full of children, lost and dearly missed by the village. You, a sackcloth-clad stranger, take your torch and use what precious energy you have to brave the elements, to find and rescue each child. Along the way, the stranger will fend off wolves and spiteful ghosts, scavenging for food and the materials to make campfires. Each step drains energy, more so if carrying items, so the whole game is turn-based but with a soft cap on the number of steps. ‘Soft’ because energy can be replenished by eating various foodstuffs. The procedural generation behind each run belies the handcrafted puzzle levels which recur. This hybrid game wears many hats, though it is primarily a puzzler with crafting elements and a dash of combat. The secrets are a delight to discover and add to your book of recipes, while the multiple play modes offer a softer means of approach for newcomers.
FTL: Faster Than Light (Review)
Developer: Subset Games
Platforms: iOS Universal
Faster Than Light is a quest to save one corner of the galaxy, powering your ship through sections whilst questing for a handy crew, a devastating array of weapons, and sometimes just a glug of fuel. Real-time with pause combat works around cooldowns, with each battle encounter ending once the enemy ship is destroyed or its crew incapacitated. Honestly, the ship is the real hero, suffering hull breaches and 1 HP scrapes while slowly updating its bells and whistles till it can slay the beast. The chiptune beats and graphics were neither wholly retro nor AAA trendy but instead creating their own cool aesthetic. An uncontested classic.
Dream Quest (Review)
Publisher: Peter M Whalen
Platforms: iOS Universal
The challenge in Dream Quest is always the same: proceed through three levels as a chosen class, building a deck strong enough to escape the realm of dreams at last. But like its namesake, the twists and turns this progression takes are strange and wonderful. Rogue-likes typically rely on stochastic events and imperfect knowledge, yet Dream Quest transforms these uncertainties into a must-try challenge for strategy buffs.
The total card-pool is modest and manageable but in total produces a surprising variety of synergies and unique challenges. Inscrutable sphinxes, malicious mimes, and immortal hydras all make an appearance as foes, giving show-stopping battles. The art is so bad it has become iconic; the theoretical possibilities it provides are captivating. Dream Quest’s endgame is supremely satisfying in of itself, but the arduous journey to meet the Master of Dreams is equally thoughtful and intense. A pleasure throughout.
Crypt of the Necrodancer
Developer: Brace Yourself Games
Platforms: iOS Universal
Dance like no one but the lord of death is watching. The rhythm-based gameplay calls back to Audiosurf, Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero, but the skill-split here favors combat and planning over split-second reflexes and a perfect internal metronome. The dungeon pulses to the beat, with everyone’s movement on the grid bound by this universal time. Import your own playlist, pick a character and get questing for loot, boss battles and a jig to remember. The graphics are simple and the size of the maps, the variety of enemies are not colossal, but these actually work in the game’s favor. Entrancement: a simple compulsion to move to the beat. Fill the game with your own personal library of earworms and enjoy the groove.
Developer: Dinofarm Games
Auro is the result of Keith Burgen’s careful tinkering and experimentations with game design. He’s an outspoken creator with a definite vision which hinges on useful distinctions like the knowledge horizon (a player can’t know everything at once, the designer draws a line beyond which information is out of reach). The prince must save the kingdom by bumping enemies and judiciously using spells and skills across this hex-based battler. Speed, precision and efficiency are paramount; score-chasing the measure of success. Not praised enough, and an android exclusive to boot!
Crowntakers has a sense of scale, uniquely balancing tactical combat with long-term investments via the overworld. It needn’t even be played as a roguelike at all, strictly speaking, for one of its alternate play modes is a persistent RPG with unlockables. The emphasis on individual decisions in either case remains paramount, from the exploration phase to combat. Its limitations are in how carelessly it hides some information, about enemy abilities, for example, from the player. In short, an excellent refreshing roguelike-RPG-lite which might be outmatched by other roguelikes but remains a distinct favorite.
Developer: Michael Brough
Platforms: iOS Universal
Of all the Roguelikes, 868-HACK ties reward to punishment most directly, scrambling the player’s usual risk-reward mindset. Thematically, a hacker scours the network for cash, energy and points while dodging hostile programs and warping across different nodes (i.e. levels). Mechanically, the poison and the cure are all the same stuff, because by hacking to gain a lead or even just catch your breath, the player spawns more foes. Resources are forever tight, and any attempt to siphon extra points or tools will aggravate the delicate game-state. As with many roguelikes, positioning is all-important, as is assembling an effective suite of programs to clear enemies and generate rewards. Across multiple successful runs, enemies gain random passive bonuses, and the prestige builds as the risks compound.
What would your list of the best roguelike games on iOS and Android look like? Let us know!