Welcome to my roguelike review page.
The purpose of this page is to provide links to and review a bunch of fairly recent roguelike projects that have something of interst in them. Well-established roguelike games such as NetHack and ADoM are not reviewed here. Neither will I review any variants here, as there are just way too many variants of Angband out there, and personally I don't find them very interesting. Only original projects here.
I try to be fair in all my reviews, but keep in mind that they are mostly my own oppinions. However, if you see something which is obviously very wrong or unfair do not hesitate to contact me by email (see link on the left). My favourite few projects are marked with 5 stars and are listed near the top and reviews that are quite old are at the bottom, otherwise the reviews are in alphabetical order only.
There are a lot of projects left to review, I don't think I will get through them all, sorry to all those that miss out. Go ahead and visit Roguleike Review section at RogueBasin For more reviews and a couple of projects that are not reviewed here (for instance the old WoT)
Currently reviewed projects (last updated 25th November 2005):
- Lost Labyrinth
- Abura Tan
Reviewed version: 0.9.5
OS: Windows and DOS
A roguelike version of Doom. With the original sound effects and music too! Apart from the fancy Doom-ish transition screens and the obvious popularity of the theme, DoomRL has quite a bit of interesting features.
Almost all the fighting that you will have to do is ranged, with a multiple choice of weapons (also from the original), there is usually plenty of ammo around, and actually sometimes too much to carry. Also, like in the modern FPS games you will need to reload weapons manually - a pistol holds 6 shots and then you need to reload, while a combat shotgun can hold 5 shots, but you need to take out the empty shell from the previous shot before shooting again (and also shells can only be put in one at a time).
All these reloading actions take different amounts of time, which can be shortened by training up some of the “traits” related to reloading. (You pick which traits to train whenever you advance an experience level).
There are lots of cool little details that add to the flavour, for example: explosive acid barrels (which can knock out walls!), corpses and blood splats (which are becoming the norm in the more modern roguelikes), levers, teleporters, number keys for weapon selection and just a general Doom-like atmosphere.
I found a few things annoying though:
- it’s a little too easy to die for me (but the game still very playable)
- no character class selection – it would have been great to see some more types than the generic space marine, even if it does go against the original Doom
- the key bindings in the external manual.txt are slightly out of date
- to unload ammo from weapons lying on the ground you need to press ‘u’ which is not very convenient to reach with the left hand (and the right hand is on the numpad for movement)
Reviewed version: 1.0.3
OS: Windows only.
Guild is an interesting game, instead of getting just one character, you get several (four to start with). When moving around you have one party leader whom you control completely, and the other companions follow the orders of the party leader. There is a big list of orders that you can give, and they can be yelled, spoken or whispered, depending on the distance that the companions are from you. And until you change the orders your companions will keep to the behaviour of the previous order using some standard AI.
I found the game play to be more tactical than an average roguelike, and of course quite original. It may seem that it could get a bit confusing managing four characters rather than the usual one, but it is actually implemented quite nicely – Tab allows you to switch between them fast between companions easily, the status display gives you a very good overview on how everyone is going, and the companion AI is pretty good at doing what it does.
Although I was reluctant to try Guild at first because multiple characters sounded like it would be rather clunky, and because it is officially an Angband variant, but now that I have played it my fears have been proved unfounded. The multiple characters are fun, and the only thing reused from Angband is the windows interface and some non-gameplay background things.
I am becoming a big fan of this game, and look forward to future releases, 5 stars!
(Note: future releases may come with David E. Gervais’ graphical tiles, which sounds great to me!)
Reviewed version: 0.50
OS: Windows, DOS and Linux
Status: Progressing Slowly
IVAN is already more than just a project with interesting feature, it can be played as a very fun game. From what I have seen all the features that are in the game are properly implemented - they're not just there for demo purposes. It has a decent storyline and background information (though it's not random). It has good graphics and even some animations - including glittering gold, rain, dripping blood (which also stains the floor), explosions, and more!
You start playing in a tropical village of New Attman as a banana grower with a quest from a village chief to deliver a message to another island. This town is well developed with all the people having something interesting to say (and this is not the same all the time), though I could not find any side quests. To get to that island you need to go through an underground cave. This cave has a much more traditional setting - typical Rogue dungeon. In this dungeon you are accompanied by a puppy as a companion.
It has a great implementation of separate body part damage with a diagram to illustrate the damages to each body part. If a body part takes enough beating it will fall off with any equipment you had on it being dropped to the ground also; if you pray to a God you can have your beloved limbs restored (though you cannot do this forever). If your groin, torso and head die then you yourself also die (though the readme file suggests that if you are in a non-human form the vital parts may be different parts). This is the best feature of the game in my opinion.
The inventory is a little like ADoM's inventory - in the sense that you can see a list of all your equipment slots and equip the items individually. There is a lot of information given about each item just in the inventory list - like your proficiency with that weapon, or what that ring does, or how much armour rating the armour adds to you.
There are a lot of other interesting details such as: a variety traps in the dungeons, your puppy actually eating things when hungry, fainting from kobold corpses, sickness (which can cause loss of limb), magic wands and scrolls, blood stains on the dungeon floor left by either you or your enemies.
IVAN is very well executed and fun to play, highly recommended to anyone!
Reviewed version: 4.011a (several newer versions are available)
OS: Windows for the latest version, older Linux ports available
Lost Labyrinth has the most beautiful graphics out all the projects I have reviewed here and it makes a very good use of animation. It goes even further than with a really nice use sound effects and catchy background music. When you start the game, you can choose which image you want for your character, and you can turn them all at different angles to see which one you like best.
The skills-picking system at the start of the game is based on a point system and is not restricted to any class or race. There is a magic system already implemented, it is easy to use and fun to play around with. The monsters in the game don't follow you around, but instead block the corridors (of which most maps are made out of), and there doesn't seem to be a big variety of monsters either, but it works really well with the current maps and game play.
Overall the game play is simple, yet very fun and addictive. It is my personal favourite out of all projects on this page.
Reviewed version: v0.A11
Status: Progressing Slowly
Abura Tan has a non-typical setting for a roguelike – Lovecraftian horror (based on the works of a horror fiction writer called Lovecraft). However, because I haven’t read any of Lovecraft’s works so could not quite grasp the setting. There is some emphasis on guns (and other ranged weapons) rather than swords, and there are various sorts of grenades available to chuck at the beasties. However there doesn’t seem to be much ammo around for the ranged weapons, so you resort to hand to hand combat anyway; I would actually prefer to have much more ammo around.
The skill system looks like it might have a lot behind it, but reading the manual actually gives you no clue on what each skill does, and some of them are incomplete. The manual does tell you that there is no way to win the game yet (sad), and it also covers a lot of other aspects of the game in good detail.
There are a lot cute minor details of which I’m sure I’ve missed a lot, but things like spyglasses that you use to examine your surroundings, filling empty water skins with water, reloading weapons (though not as nicely implemented as in DoomRL), some books that can be used to improve your skills, and smoke bombs that fill the area with smoke for a while.
The gameplay I found a bit hard, mainly because the generated maps are mostly corridors with water in the middle of them, so you’re drowning for quite a lot of the time. And I was a little annoyed when I found that there was no save game option.
Overall I found Abura Tan to have a few good concepts, though not fully developed yet, and the game is not at a very playable stage.
Reviewed version: 0.3.4 (0.3.5 available)
This project has beautiful isometric graphics and a lot of features which I have not seen in a lot of other roguelikes. But H-World is not actually a game - it is a roguelike engine, which means that you can build your own game with it. However H-World still comes with a demo game which runs on the engine - "The Jungle".
The GUI-handled inventory and shops are great features and works great with the game's graphics. Chests are a great addition to spice up the dungeon, and the other items of furniture in the dungeons give the game a nice feeling. There is even a pack mule which helps you carry your stuff around! The monster AI is quite developed - some monsters will only attack you in groups and run away otherwise, which makes you think a bit of strategy, watching those critters at the edge of your screen. There is really not much to do in H-World but explore the features, but that alone is worth the time.
Final words: H-World is a roguelike engine of rare quality - it is modern, it is detailed, and I can imagine an H-World game become one of the big roguelikes in the near future.
There is also project that is an on-going that builds a game using the H-World engine, but no releases yet and it seems to have been abandoned. See http://codemonkey.sunsite.dk/projects/beyond/hworld/ for more details.
Reviewed version: 0.4.6
OS: Windows (and older versions - DOS)
Status: In the middle of another remake.
The game uses graphical tiles, but I have to say I found that background tiles made me feel a little disoriented in some areas (they are too colourful), and some background items I just could not figure out what they were (was that a giant tooth???), and there is no look command to see what's in the next square. Furthermore, a lot of the item images were either too small or not clear enough - I found it very hard to tell what's lying on the floor until you walk over it. The lack of memory in the map (previously explored places weren't marked differently) and the screen always centring on you as you move meant that it was very hard for me to tell where I was, or whether I've been to a given place before. The maps are quite empty, without many monsters (and they don't seem to re-generate randomly yet), so there is not much to do.
However it does have some really nice features implemented - like chests and traps. And almost everything has feeling of originality to it. Currently it is at a basic level, but I think it can grow into something much more interesting.
Reviewed version: 0.6.5 (latest version: 0.6.6)
OS: Windows / Linux (?)
http://www.papaki.tk/ (alternatively try: http://papaki.blogspot.com/)
What I really liked about Papaki right before I even launched the executable is that it comes with a manual.htm with a very clear layout. It explains all the differences between the numerous (14!) possibilities of character classes that you can play for, gives you a brief overview of what you should be doing (but unfortunately no story line) and outlines all the abilities/skills.
Papaki uses the same approach as IVAN and has separate damage on each body part, which is quite a cool feature in my opinion, if your head dies, or the combined HP of the whole body goes down to 0, the game is over. This is represented by a little stick figure on the top-right corner of the screen.
As you start playing you end up in a randomly generated wilderness. The wilderness is alive with a whole lot of different monsters whose trails you can detect if you use a hunting skill, and while you're hunting them they're also hunting each other! And the splats of blood flying all over the place are a nice touch. With ASCII graphics things features like these, especially with a large field of view that Papaki has, can get potentially confusing; but Papaki deals with this by having a summary of all the items and monsters you can currently see (along with their health bars represented in the same way as in Angband).&amp;amp;amp;amp;#060;p>I am becoming a big fan of how the wilderness is implemented, and I hope to make something similar to that for my own project (which is also planned to have a wilderness setting).
On the downside:
A basic Magic system is implemented; it is still a bit primitive with no auto-aim for ranged attacks. The towns are a bit boring with not much to do in them. All the game messages are at the bottom which makes them harder to read when you're running around and killing things, but previous messages are still visible after several more subsequent messages have been displayed also. And in Windows you can only play in maximized mode otherwise the game misbehaves.
Nevertheless, this was a wonderful experience for me and has given me several ideas for my own project.
Reviewed version: 066 (a newer version is available)
OS: GameBoy Advance, but up-to-date Windows and Linux ports are available
POWDER is made with GameBoy Advance as the target platform, but even on a PC it has a really nice feel to it. The graphical tiles are not great, but are clear enough to play the game without any problems. And if you are having problems with the default tile set, there are 2 alternatives provided (and what is really nice is that they are built into the game, so no need to manually modify external .ini files). Another problem is the tiny window size - on a PC it is a small fixed size and cannot be maximized to full screen.
The general user interface of the game is quite straightforward to use, without cutting back on the functionality. POWDER is a nice kind of light-hearted game which lets you get killed by a Kiwi bird (argh, happened to me twice!!!) in a dungeon while descending to kill Baezl'bub the demon. POWDER has several deities which you can pick to worship at some stage in the game and receive specific bonuses for specific types of worship. A magic system is implemented and it works nicely.
Really nice game to play around with. Recommended!
Reviewed version: 0.50
OS: Windows or any OS with Python installed (which included Linux)
Shuruppak is set in the ancient world of the Mesopotamian city states, [Mesopotamia being a very ancient civilisation]. As far as I understand from the intro message, you play a slave in the dungeons of Shuruppak – one day the guards start screaming and running away leaving you unchained. You start at the lowest level and all the stairs lead upwards, you don’t have too much time to stay and explore the dungeons at your leisure as it seems that the dungeons are flooding! Keep going up as fast as you can or you drown! This is unlike the generic goal common to many roguelikes: climb down deep into dungeon, take your time, kill X retrieve artefact Y.
The dungeon corridors are generally windier and maze like than most of the ones I've seen in other game. Though it seems that this effect has come at a cost of speed during dungeon generation, you actually get loading screens. However I did not find this annoying as you get a quote from some game lore to read while the next map is being generated.
There are some cool AI features implemented. For example, noise that you make while fighting or changing equipment can be heard by some creatures who will be sure to come and try to kill you (also you can yell if you really want to attract them). The noise that you make is displayed in a pink bar at the bottom of your screen. Also there is a visibility rating that shows how easily you can be detected by sight.
- Though it does have some features worth looking at, I found that the game is not at all fully playable yet, for a few reasons:
- It is too hard. The water rises too fast and the monsters can be too tough.
- There is not much to do, the number of items is limited and so is the number of creatures. Basically it is just running for the stairs.
- The AI doesn't add much to the game because there are not enough creatures.
(NOTE: From reading their website it seems that most of my problems would have been addressed by the next version).
Reviewed version: 0.6.2
OS: Linux/MacOS X/Windows/DOS
Status: Unknown, possibly dead.
ZAPM is "an attempt to create a Sci-Fi NetHack" (according to the official website). It has a lot of interesting Sci-Fi features including: floppy disks instead of typical roguelike scrolls (but you need a computer to execute them), bionic implants which you can plant into your body, pulse rifles (among other guns) and creatures like grid bugs. Instead of wizards, in ZAPM you can play for Psions - mutants with special powers. Other professions are: Space Marine (wielding a powerful pulse rifle), Quarterback (equipped with beer and football uniform) and Software Engineer (with a computer and lots of floppies). Skill advancement is implemented - you can advance several skills every time you gain a level; I don't think you can advance any skills simply by practising them a lot (as in most other games). The main complaint that I have about ZAPM is that there doesn't seem much to do, but nevertheless it's fun to play around with for a while. I hope development gets back on the road and new releases will turn up, because I really want to see more of this game!
By Jeff Mather
Reviewed version: 2.0.1 beta (the latest is 2.0.17 beta)
OS: All OS with Java installed
Silmar is a Java game (you need Java runtimes, but you probably already have them), with some nice graphical tiles (by David E. Gervais) and also some nice sound effects. The controls are untraditional to roguelikes as you need to use a mouse for completely everything, but it seems to work well with the current engine. When you start playing, you begin in a preset town with shops, places to repair your weapons and a healer. All of these facilities have a similar easy-to-use GUI interface which is a great addition to the game. From the town you can take a ladder into a cave where all the action happens. The cave is dark and you can't see anything (not even the places that you've visited) without a torch, which is realistic but it makes it very hard to play; especially as the torch can be extinguished in combat but cannot be re-lit during combat! In the dungeons you can stumble upon various traps and unlock chests (that can also be trapped); there is never a shortage of monsters either, in fact the monsters are a bit too tough for me. Silmar is quite a nice game, but I found it too hard and could not get very far to enjoy it more.
By Jakub Debski
Reviewed version: 2.0.1 beta (the latest is 2.0.17 beta)
Status: Temporarily dormant
Can be obtained from here. However the official website is: http://xenocide.e-plan.pl/ - at time of me writing this it is unnavailable.
Xenocide has a Sci-Fi theme with somewhat morbid surrounding (severed body parts lying about all over the place). Xenocide implements a nice usage of colours to highlight your view area and to provide a clearer display for game messages. The AI seems to be quite developed, with creatures hiding in a corner or fleeing you through the nearest door and then attacking you again when they have some friends with them. My favourite feature in this game was being able to build your own robots from different parts, it allows you to give them certain abilities and you can use different CPUs for different behaviours, this feature made the game so much more fun to play. There are a lot of other great Sci-Fi features like stun grenades and booster pills. I found the game to be quite hard and not enough items lying around for robot building. But nevertheless I enjoyed playing it and I look forward to seeing future versions (with hopefully more parts for robots).
By Jim Babcock
Reviewed version: 5 gamma (the latest is Beta 6c)
OS: TI-89/91/92+ calculators (possibly some others too). But up-to-date ports available for: Palm OS, Linux and Windows
Status: Progressing Slowly
I own a TI-89, but unfortunately I don't have a link cable so I couldn't download CalcRogue from my computer to try it. But the Windows port ran very well.
Because it has 'Rogue' in its name and because it is a game for a calculator, you would assume that this is a stripped-down reincarnation of the original Rogue, but it is far from it. CalcRogue is actually a more advanced game than the original Rogue. CalcRogue still resembles Rogue in more ways than an average modern roguelike (for example the inventory system and the completion quest) but it is a completely new and better game. Unlike Rogue, CalcRogue has: shops, player classes, magic, persistent dungeons, a bigger variety of items and monsters than Rogue. It does not have many features which would make it stand out among other roguelikes but, remember, it is a game intended for a calculator with a much slower processor and more limited resource than we have on PCs.