FTL: Faster Than Light
Developer: Subset Games
Publisher: Subset Games
Warping between unknown star systems, striving to keep ahead of a vast enemy armada and engaging in frequent tactical ship-to-ship battles, playing FTL is an exercise in making split-second tough decisions. If there’s a more compelling set-up for a mobile roguelike, we haven’t seen it.
Genre: Action, Platform
Downwell practically buzzes with kinetic energy, whether you’re bouncing on the head of a frog, blasting through layers of rock with your gunboots, or ducking into time bubble to buy some weapon upgrades. A truly thrilling roguelike.
Rogue Legacy is a platformer of uncommon replayability, thanks to its procedurally generated levels and an ingenious character progression system. Each successive generation of your character’s family steps up to the plate with their own strengths and (often hilarious) quirks.
Developer: Motion Twin
Genre: Action, Adventure
Dead Cells provides one of the slickest, most satisfying action-platformer experiences on mobile. Run, leap and dodge through randomised levels, picking up a deadly range of swords, shields, projectile weapons, automated turrets and magical attacks. Then die and do it all again – but a little differently.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (iOS)
Publisher: Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl
One of the most enduringly popular roguelikes of recent times, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth plays like an unholy mash-up of Robotron and Zelda. And we do mean unholy – Edmund McMillen’s labour of love frequently dips into the profane as you shoot and wretch your way through its grim random levels.
This stunning roguelike hack and slasher is so slick, you can play it with one hand. It’s far from brainless or shallow, though. Each fearsome enemy requires a different approach, while there are plenty of decisions to be made with your warrior’s progression.
Developer: RocketCat Games
Publisher: RocketCat Games
Genre: Action, RPG
Imagine if someone made A Link to the Past into a combat-heavy roguelike, with each successive dungeon a punishing assault course of random design and brutal enemies. That’s Wayward Souls, and it rocks. Still.
Developer: Red Hook Studios
Darkest Dungeon punishing to play in the best possible way, from its dour Lovecraftian lore to its brutal side-on turn-based battles. It’s a game where your entire team will be wiped out, seemingly at the whim of a malevolent god – and you’ll still go back for more.
Publisher: Failbetter Games
Genre: Adventure, Strategy
Suitably enough, Sunless Sea is a game you immerse yourself in. Exploring a vast underground sea in a steampunk ship, you’ll embark on a beautifully written narrative adventure while taking part in tense real time naval battles.
Crypt of the NecroDancer
A brilliantly bizarre roguelike dungeon crawler that replaces the usual tactical turn-based battles with a rhythmic music-based system. Keep to the beat to vanquish those skeletons and dragons. Bonkers.
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Genre: Adventure, Hardcore
A brutal survival game with a distinctively spindly comic book aesthetic. Guide Wilson through a hazardous alternate world, crafting your way to some form of temporary safety.
A compact roguelike dungeon crawler with an abstract retro visual style and an unapologetically sharp edge. Featuring a tantalising risk-reward balance and requiring an uncommon level of focus, it’s quite the experience.
Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Genre: Stealth, Strategy
Invisible, Inc’s slick art style and polished turn-based stealth battles give the impression of a highly sculpted experience. But its random level layouts and brutal fail state reveal a wicked roguelike edge.
Death Road to Canada
Publisher: RocketCat Games
Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG
Zombies have infected every gaming genre known to man, so a zombie roguelike survival action RPG was always on the cards. That’s Death Road to Canada in a slightly unwieldy nutshell. It’s awesome.
Genre: Puzzle, RPG
Ending looks so stripped back and retro, it seems to come from the same era as Rogue. Roguelike indeed. It actually plays like a thoroughly modern roguelike puzzler, however.
Publisher: Weather Factory
Genre: Card/board game, Strategy
Cultist Simulator is described as a roguelike narrative card game, but that doesn’t adequately prepare you for the sheer freewheeling possibilities of this cosmic game of Poker. Draw cards, explore arcane rites – then die and try it all again.
Developer: Magma Fortress
Publisher: Magma Fortress
Genre: RPG, Strategy
Hoplite is the roguelike stripped down to its basics, and we love it for that. Guide your Spartan hero through successive randomly generated grid-like levels, waging snappy turn-based warfare on your foes.
Developer: Freehold Games
Publisher: Freehold Games
Sproggiwood is a roguelike dungeon crawler in a similar vein to Desktop Dungeons. It sets itself apart with an altogether quirkier and more appealing Finnish fairytale aesthetic.
Void Tyrant is a colourful deck building game build on solid roguelike foundations. At the heart of its is a game of interstellar Blackjack, as you aim to draw higher than your space alien foes without going bust.
Publisher: Pixelnest Studio
Genre: Arcade, Shooter
Few genres are as stuck in their ways as the 2D shmup, but Steredenn gives things a shake up with a little roguelike magic. Random levels and permadeath, alongside an inspired weapon customisation, really give the action a jolt.
Just like Steredenn, Black Paradox juices up the classic 2D shooter with the judicious application of roguelike elements. It’s got a bullet hell vibe, but with a little extra bite.
Developer: QCF Design
Publisher: QCF Design
Roguelike dungeon crawlers have flooded the mobile RPG space in recent years, and this PC conversion is one of the meatier examples, thanks to an overarching kingdom-building element.
Road Not Taken
Developer: Spry Fox
Road Not Taken splices roguelike elements into the tile-sliding puzzler, and the results are brilliant. Add into the mix a gorgeous cartoon art style and a surprisingly emotive story, and you have one of the most unique roguelikes on this list.
Heroes of Loot 2
Genre: Action, Shooter
Heroes of Loot 2 does away with the dual-stick shooter controls of the original, leaning more heavily towards the dungeon crawling aspect of its roguelike heritage. It remains a frantic arcade blast, though, with a neat character-swapping mechanic to liven things up.
Publisher: Lucky Kat Studios
Trigger Heroes borrows more than a colourful aesthetic and top-down gunplay from console roguelike Nuclear Throne. But it’s an accomplished tribute, all the same, with suitably streamlined mobile-friendly controls.