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Exploring The Bleak
Stable game
Developer Nathaniel Inman
Theme Fantasy
Influences NetHack
Released 2010 Sep 19th (RC 1)
Updated 2011 Jan 10th (RC 2.4)
Licensing Open source, GPL v3
P. Language Visual Basic .NET
Platforms Windows GUI
Interface ASCII, Keyboard, Mouse
Game Length Coffee Break
Official site of Exploring The Bleak


Exploring The Bleak is a Graphical Roguelike videogame created by Nathaniel Inman of The Other Experiment Studio. ETB was released on September 19th 2010 for ARRP, or the Annual Roguelike Release Party. The project was original released as closed source, but is now available in open source as of ETB RC2 (November 10th). Information on the project and other projects by Nathaniel Inman or TOES respectively can be accessed at it's homepage.

Current Features

  • Randomly Generated Dungeons (4 Presets : Ruins, Dungeon, Tunnels, & Ordinal Tunnels)
  • 10 Dungeon Graphical Tilesets
  • 10 Simple Creatures
  • 100+ Randomly Generated Items
  • 20+ Unique Skills
  • Top Scores List
  • A Very Simple, Beatable Game.

examplewaters.png exampleices.png examplelavas.png

How To Play

Delve into the depths of the dungeons to retrieve the Everspark. In order to level up you kill enemies by walking into them. Strength makes your regular attacks stronger. Dexterity gives you the chance to dodge attacks. Constitution gives you damage reduction on all attacks. Wisdom gives you more points when you level to increase stats. Intelligence increases your skill damage. Luck increases the amount of loot that you find. Charisma increases the chance to cause enemies to flee.

There is a class skills list available at the local wiki here.


  • 'p' or 't' picks up items.
  • 'i' shows your inventory.
  • '?' or 'h' shows and hides this help.
  • '5' on the num pad waits a turn and allows you to heal 1HP/1WP.
  • '1' is your primary skill
  • '2' is your secondary skill
  • '3' is your support skill
  • '<' goes up stairs.
  • '>' goes down stairs.
  • 'f1' shows the high scores.
  • 'f2' shows your character stats.
  • 'f3' shows or hides the activity log.
  • 'f4' exits game and restarts character creation.
  • 'f5' enables graphical mode.
  • 'f6' enables ascii mode.
  • 'f7' turns on image filtering.
  • 'f8' turns off image filtering.

VB.NET Source Code

Exploring The Bleak was created using VB.NET which is different than most Roguelikes that generally use Java, C derivatives, Python, etc. It more-or-less was a proof of concept. The language was readily available because Nathaniel Inman was using it at work for a customer.

Free/Open Source Licensing

All source code to the game is GNU GPL v3, but all artwork is copyrighted to Nathaniel Inman (and not GPLv3). Permission may be granted to use artwork of the game by only Nathaniel Inman himself either in person or in writing to his email address available on TOES homepage.