What is a Roguelike?
One does not simply ask "What is a Roguelike".
The term "roguelike" is still growing in popularity to describe any game with procedural content generation, or punishing difficulty, it is important to note that roguebasin is meant to serve as a repository of knowledge mostly for Traditional Roguelikes.
What is a Traditional Roguelike?
A traditional Roguelike is usually described as a computer game with a strong focus on intricate gameplay and replayability, where the player has an indefinite amount of time in which to make a move, making gameplay comparable more to chess than to reflex-based games like first-person shooters, and where the game provides new content and challenges on every run, using procedural content generation techniques.
There are many other factors one may consider as relevant for traditional roguelikes, including them having an abstract world representation using characters or simple sprites, as opposed to detailed graphics, requiring the player's imagination to come into play (gameplay is more like reading a book than watching a movie). Modern traditional roguelikes often shun this aspect, in favor of accessibility for less hardcore players.
Of course, the best way to understand what Roguelikes are is to download and play one.
Many Roguelikes are freely available online. The most influential ones from the 00's decade are known as the Major Roguelikes:
Before their rise in popularity in the late 80s and 90s, the genre was dominated by the Major Classic Roguelikes:
Since the control systems of these Roguelikes are geared towards "expert" players, the novice player may be interested in trying a 'lighter' game like some of the coffeebreak roguelikes or just dive in at the deep end and find a roguelike game to suit you.
There are several other important places in the roguelike community that you should consider visiting:
Featured Roguelike: Sil
Sil is a computer role-playing game with a strong emphasis on discovery and tactical combat. It has a simple but rich combat system which allows for a great variety of choice: should you wear heavy armour that makes you easier to hit but reduces the damage you take? should you wield heavier weapons to overcome your opponents’ armour, or wield lighter weapons for more accuracy and a greater chance of critical hits? It depends on the situation and the type of character you become. You will also have the chance to retreat back into shadowy corridors to take the enemy one by one, or to stealthily creep up to your opponent and take him unawares.
It is also one of very few games that stays true to the writings of Tolkien. Carefully researched, it dispenses with many generic fantasy tropes and reveals a different world. There are no wizards or priests, no platemail or magical scrolls. Instead, it is the Norse Saga inspired world that Tolkien imagined, with warriors clad in shining mail, singing songs of rage or sorrow as they slay. The magic of the world is subtle yet powerful: there are songs of fear and of binding, rather than spells of fireball and teleportation.
New Roguelike Releases
If you have some ideas for a new Roguelike and would like to give development a go (or are already a seasoned developer) the RogueBasin is here to help you expand the Roguelike genre. A complete list of articles is available, but here are some to get you started:
If you'd like to contribute to RogueBasin, simply create an account and log in. Feel very free to edit! We especially need more information added to the games pages and the lists - if you're a developer, consider updating your game's page, and making sure that it (and you) are included in the relevant lists.
If you're an experienced developer, consider writing articles about creating Roguelikes. There are many people new to Roguelike development, and they often need help. It's especially helpful to write articles about problems you have experienced yourself.