How awesome would it be if a game offered a whole new world and experience every time you played it? Most games are linearly designed – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but linear games tend to suffer from low replayability. On the other hand, there are roguelikes: an entire subset of RPGs where no two games are ever the same.
Roguelikes – named after Rogue, which was the first to pioneer this genre of games – are defined by three main gameplay pillars:
- Procedurally generated content.
- Turn-based gameplay.
- Permanent death.
Combine these elements into one game and you get an experience that’s always new, always thrilling, and always challenging. Don’t let permanent death scare you away! Combined with a randomly generated world, it works surprisingly well. Tim has more to say on the greatness of roguelikes.
If this sounds like gameplay you’d enjoy, check out these free roguelikes for Android to get a taste of infinite replayability – the same element that made Minecraft so popular.
Pixel Dungeon is an Android roguelike that has steadily been gaining a lot of fans. The goal of the game is to plunge the depths of the pixel dungeon, collect items, defeat monsters, and ultimately find the Amulet of Yendor.
At the start, you can choose from three different classes: the Warrior, the Mage, and the Rogue, each of which has a slightly unique style of gameplay. The Pixel Dungeon is a multi-floored dungeon where each floor offers a new set of items to find and monsters to kill.
My favorite part of Pixel Dungeon, however, is the art. I’m a sucker for stylish pixel graphics and I think Pixel Dungeon pulled it off well: it’s pixelated enough to pay homage to past generations of games while being clear enough that it does not distract or detract from gameplay.
Pixel Dungeon is currently in beta. I’m not sure if it’ll go pay-to-play when it leaves beta, but there hasn’t been a release date announced yet, so play it while you can.
Andor’s Trail has much better graphics than Pixel Dungeon, so if eye candy is a big deal for you, you may want to give this one a shot instead. This game is reminiscent of 90s-era SNES RPGs, not only in graphics but in gameplay, as it’s less about dungeoneering and more about fulfilling quests.
In terms of fun factor, it’s all right. The constant cycle of “solve quest, return for reward, repeat” might be exhausting for some and the subtle step away from delving deeper and deeper into dungeons means that it feels less like a traditional roguelike than it should. However, the gameplay is otherwise solid, the app itself is free, and the code is open source, so give it a try.
Legends of Yore is an Android roguelike that is self-proclaimed to be “casual,” which I can only assume means that it requires less investment (in terms of time and effort) than a traditional roguelike. After playing it a bit, I think that is indeed the case. If you’re new to the genre, this one might be a good place to start.
The only issue I have with Legends of Yore is that it has a gimped free version. Everything is fine, but once you hit level 20 your gold and experience gains will be limited unless you upgrade to the paid version. Then again, the paid version is only $2 USD, so it’s not too bad.
Did you know that roguelikes actually find their roots in ASCII games from the 80s? The screen was nothing more than a black console with various text characters all over the place to represent different entities – items, monsters, doors, trees, etc. Angband is one of the earliest in the roguelike genre, and it has been ported to Android, complete with ASCII text graphics.
If you want to have a true roguelike experience, Angband is about as close as you’ll get other than playing the original Rogue itself. Just be prepared that this game might be harder than you expect it to be.
There are many more roguelikes for Android out there, such as WazHack (our review). Which Android roguelikes do you like the best? What is it about the roguelike gameplay that keeps you hooked? Share with us in the comments!