The Spendthrift’s Guide to Gaming – Living a Rogue’s Life
Since the holidays, I’ve been playing three different games. They all are turn based RPGs and based on a genre known as rogue likes. What is a rogue like, you may ask? Once upon a time, I wondered the same thing myself.
Diablo made me do it
I had never heard the term ‘rogue-like’ until after I started playing Diablo. Every magazine and website at the time said it was an ‘evolution of the rogue like’ game. At the time, I had to search to find out exactly what that term meant. Now we have Wikipedia to give us the answer:
“The rogue like is a sub-genre of role-playing video games, characterized by levelrandomization, permanent death, and turn-based movement. Most rogue likes feature ASCIIgraphics, with newer games increasingly offering tile-based graphics. Games are typicallydungeon crawls, with many monsters, items, and environmental features. Computer rogue likes usually employ the majority of the keyboard to facilitate interaction with items and the environment. The name of the genre comes from the 1980 game Rogue.” – Wikipedia
After learning what a rogue-like was, I tried out several. The graphics tended to be just a basic set of ASCII characters. That didn’t bother me. What I didn’t like, however, how obtuse and unfriendly the controls to these games tended to be. To interact with the game, there often is a big variety of keyboard shortcuts. After playing the simple and addictive Diablo, I just couldn’t get in to any of these rogue-like games. I did try but it never quite worked out. Luckily, some games have come along to simply the controls yet keep the depth of the original rogue like games.
Ye olde tyme legende
I downloaded a game called Legends of Yore earlier this year for my Motorola Droid 2. I played the heck out of it. The game has 8-bit visuals and is all about dungeon crawling and collecting loot. I played this game until the first time my Droid 2 had to be sent in for repair. After that point, I forgot about the product until recently.
Luckily, the game has a login option that syncs data to the cloud. This means that when I redownloaded it and finally purchased the full game (For two or three bucks) I was able to continue on where my last experience had left off.
The game’s graphics are from a top down view with very little depth. There really are no frames of animation; instead, most of the feedback takes place through sound and one frame of combat animation. It really fits the genre and works well on my phone.
Interestingly enough, for Christmas I received a gift of another rogue like called Hack, Slash, Loot
Hacking and slashing for fun and profit
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This one is a PC only game that I own via Valve’s Steam service. The graphics are also 8-bit, but the visuals are presented from a quasi-isometric view. These graphics have no frames of animation as well, there is a bit of a slashing motion when attacked, but that is about it. This doesn’t detract from either Hack, Slash, Loot or Legends of Yore. In fact, I think it helps add to the charm.
Hack, Slash, Loot is a Rogue like, but it plays a bit differently than Legends. There is only a small inventory and no stats to speak. Your character levels only by collecting loot and going through the dungeons. There are many different items to get, but the player has to choose to keep the item and replace one he is currently using, or leave the item behind. Unlike Legends of Yore, there is no store so the player can’t sell anything. This makes a focused game that is both hard and fun.
After playing Hack/Loot, I remembered a game I had purchased at the end of 2012 but never really played. It was a rogue like called Dungeons of Dredmor.
Delving in to the Dreaded Dungeons
This game is a bit different from the previous two. It is a lot more complicated, including a crafting system and full inventory. The graphics are also in the 16-bit style but are highly detailed and animated. If Legends of Yore is as casual take on the rogue like experience, this one is about as hardcore as it can get. (As an aside, so is Hack, Slash, Loot. However, they are different games in the same genre.)
I’ve actually had to use a wiki for Dredmor. Although there is a tutorial, many of the actions and game play elements aren’t easy to understand. One of the reasons I didn’t play this game much when I bought it is because of the ranged combat. For some reason, even after going through the tutorial, I didn’t quite understand how to shoot an arrow. I finally figured out it by reading a wiki and now can’t recommend the game enough.
These three games are all fairly cheap. I spent two bucks on Legends of Yore and can play it across multiple platforms. Hack, Slash, Loot was given to me as a gift but can be purchased for seven dollars. Dungeons of Dredmor is five dollars for the original game, with another six-dollar investment for two different expansion packs. A third expansion is free.
All total that is twenty dollars for at least a hundred hours of game play. These are all great games that need to be experienced.