Rank RLs you have played a lot

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This was originally a compilation by Kornel Kisielewicz of a thread on rgrd (he only included the posts that provided explanations).

Roguebasin users have since then added their own rankings and explanations.

Original post by Herold

Its simple, if you played some RLs a lot - rank them! You can also wrote, why you ranked so (I hope it will help to developers).

My suggestion is this:

  1. ADOM (for challenge, skill system (including horoscopes and talents), incredible replayability, tactic and plot)
  2. Entroband (for nice interface and challenge)
  3. Nethack (which I don't like much - too many non-homogeneous things together)

Timofei Shartov

  1. Crawl - very replayable, characters die fast
  2. ADOM - got me started on RLs in the first place, but the games take too long before the character dies
  3. IVAN - great fun, but some things are too random (wand explosions etc.)
  4. DoomRL - fun, fast, but not very replayable
  5. Rogue - special mention - great fun game, but not much variety

RLs that I played, but didn't like:

  1. Nethack - I don't like the interface and the flavor is totally non-existant with seemingly random classes and items (samurais, valkyries, tourists, kitchen sinks, wtf?)
  2. Angband - don't know which variation I played, but it had huge maps, swarms of identical monsters, ugly tiles. Bleargh...


  1. Crawl - beautiful in how much time one spends truly playing and how little doing things that resemble playing, but aren't.
  2. ADOM - my first roguelike addiction, so always a special place in my heart, despite many flaws.
  3. POWDER - still a little rough around the edges, but seems to be well on the way to being a an extremely fun little roguelike
  4. ToME - so much variety, funkiness, and, well, fun that it bamboozled me into playing it intensely for several months despite its being a non-persistent-levels roguelike.
  5. DoomRL - I never really got into it, but it did seem like it could be a lot of fun per minute of play.
  6. Nethack - it feels like it really may be a decent game, but I just can't swallow e.g. the ID mini-game. There also seems to be a lot of ways to do things that resemble playing, but aren't really play.
  7. Angband - I've played it, so it had to go *somewhere* on the list...

Chris Morris

I'm having great difficulty putting an actual ranking together. However, in no particular order within each group:


  • Crawl - well-balanced, rewards thoughtful play, excellent religion system, real variety between winners, and while almost all dire situations after the first few levels are survivable, a lot of thought, preparation, and recognising things going wrong before they get to a critical stage is needed to do that.


  • Rogue - very well designed and balanced. Simple but not dull gameplay.
  • Letter Hunt - see Rogue, and a great implementation of an original idea.
  • ADOM - the first roguelike I played. Lots of variety, interesting quests, and an interesting character advancement mechanism. On the downside, game balance between the early and late game needs tweaking, and it has too many insta-escapes from bad situations.
  • Various other enjoyable 'coffee-break' roguelikes, mainly from 7DRL competitions. See Rogue again.


  • Nethack - I never really got far enough into this to decide whether I liked it or not. From what I've heard about later bits of the game, I suspect I wouldn't, though.


  • Angband - after clearing a few levels and fighting various differently coloured centipedes I lost the will to continue.
  • My current in-dev game: It needs some fun content. Hopefully I can do that over the weekend and then I'll have some motivation to continue writing it. At the moment, I add a feature, debug it for hours, and then don't get any reward in terms of 'fun game to play'. If (when) I get past that barrier I should be much more motivated to actually do the development work.

lemuel pitkin

  1. Crawl - great mix of tactical and strategic decisions, near-perfect balance, complex play, no extraneous "stuff" (there's just one kind of hydra, but it really changes the game), flexible but highly varied character types, very little tedious/repetitive activity.
  2. Quickband - all of Angband's good qualities with a lot less tedium.
  3. NetHack (pre-1996) - best interactions between game elements of any roguelike (owes as much to old Infocom text adventures as to rogue) and complex, persistent dungeons. Horrible balance, identical characters past the midgame, and test-adventure elements limit replayability.
  4. ChessRogue - the only roguelike I know of that treats the grid as a central game element rather than an inconvenience. It would be great to see some "real" roguelike develop this idea.
  5. Angband - the slot machine of roguelikes. Engrossing but dull.
  6. NetHack (post-1996) - the changes have weakened the good elements (e.g. diluting the quirky flavor with boring D&Disms like class/race rather than role) and made the balance problems even worse.


  1. ADOM - my first, and current RL addiction. I'll probably never win but the game, its backstory and its engulf me and my imagination. I like most of its combat system and its sense of morals
  2. DoomRL - the most fun I have ever had playing a roguelike... I'm not much of a player and will probably never finish it but its great fun. MIDI and SOUND and BLOOD SPLATTER = GOOOOOD!
  3. Letter Hunt - YA Untraditional RL - I play it in small bursts, play for half an hour and shelf for a while. Its a great minigame (no offense meant by the term).

Neither nethack nor the bands ever got it for me - I tried zangband for a bit and it had my attention for a little while, but ADOM came straight back out...


  1. DoomRL - simple, fun, aggressive, addicting, rocket launcher, BFG
  2. DeadCold - cool mood
  3. ADOM - first roguelike I played, classes and abilities are nice, spells are cool, very stable
  4. Moria - yes, I played it more than angband and I like it more, and my computer screen was screwed so I could only play monochrome games by tilting the plug so only blue was seen.
  5. GearHead - nice concept, mecha fighting is cool.

Michal Bielinski


  • Dungeon Crawl - fast play, constant tension and lost of beautiful spells. I am almost addicted to it
  • Xenocide - for cool concept of DNA merging and total freedom developing your character
  • ADOM - lots of classes each with its own different special abilities. Everything is cute except the plot which subtracts from replayability IMO
  • DoomRL - FEEL MY WRATH! That's the one I pick when berserking in real world. Just gimme double shotgun
  • ZapM - just like NetHack with shorter learning curve. A bit too easy though
  • ChessRogue - almost won it, interesting game where luck plays minimal role

Not liked

  • NetHack - many tricks and lots of humor, but I find it too hard to learn and strange events are all around
  • Angband - simply I don't like it. Often waitng for right item to show up bores me horribly
  • DeadCold - not enough activities other than killing

Risto Saarelma

  1. Nethack - I didn't like Nethack that much for a while and always died in the beginning of the game. Now I've begun to get to the mid-game and I'm beginning to see why it's so addictive. The game mechanics are very polished and balanced. The interface is a bit crufty though. Seriously, what's the idea with separate equip/unequip commands for armor and jewelry?
  2. ADOM - It has a nice world concept and more involved plot than Nethack. The world is quite immersive and strikes a nice balance between randomly generated and fixed content. But it also has some bugs, balance issues and game mechanic issues. Some interface cruft, a separate command for cleaning your ears is a bit much. And it doesn't support hjkl movement keys out of the box.
  3. Crawl - Intriguing, but I'm still stuck in the "certain death at early game" phase. The religion system and some races are innovative. I'd need to get better at Crawl to appraise it further. Nethack seems to have a relatively relaxed mid-game where the player can kit up his character and try all sorts of things, I'm under the impression that Crawl keeps a tighter pressure on the character throughout the game.
  4. Zangband - occasionally other variants. I don't really get Angband. The vanilla version seems very bland but at least the variants have enough weird starting options to be initially interesting. Of course adding several layers of features makes a horrible mess out of the game design. But what all Angbands end up being is a large number of huge, confusing and boring dungeon levels with rags and broken sticks in them. Still, I've played Zangband enough to add it here. The scripted quests and the overworld make it a lot more interesting.
  5. Omega I tried to play this a long time ago, but it was pretty confusing. With a better interface and a bit less of the "good RPG = lots of ways to mess up the player" -attitude from the 80's, this might have developed into something quite interesting.

Unfortunately none of the more modern roguelikes have really hooked me yet. POWDER and GearHead are nice, but I haven't gotten very far in either.

Some ideas about what might make me like a game:

  • Thought-out game mechanics. Don't just design from realism or mindlessly copy existing games. If you give me numbers to track, make them something that has a significant impact in the game. Don't have a charisma stat unless the game really makes use of the charisma and don't put the stat on the status panel unless it's really important that I can tell the stat at a glance at any moment (Nethack and ADOM fail at this). Use a sensible degree of detail in the stats. When playing ADOM, I really don't care whether I have 48 % ventriloquism skill or 63 % ventriloquism skill. I'd be quite happy if ventriloquism would be just a skill that you either have or you don't have, no ranks whatsoever. Even somewhat more useful skills can probably do with something like 10 ranks.
  • Some hand-made flavor. Random dungeons are never the same, but most of the time they're pretty boring. Zangband's overworld is generated, so it ends up being mostly random mush. ADOM has a fixed overworld, so you learn its geography just like you learn Nethack's recurring dungeon features. Some repeating elements give your game identity.
  • Have interesting choices. Maybe character types with a genuinely different gameplay feel, maybe different routes through the game world, in which different obstacles are faced, maybe different tactical options for various situations. Choices are interesting if they are genuinely different and there isn't a single choice that is clearly better than all the others.
  • Either support hjklyubn movement keys or only have movement in the 4 cardinal directions. I've configured my numpad to navigate in my window manager, so it's not useful for games. Other people use laptops with no numpad. This seems to be rare in new roguelikes.
  • Have a Linux version. Or release the source so that people can build their own.
  • Random nastiness needs a balance. If death is literally lurking around every corner, the game will wear me down. If things are too easy, it might be boring. Of course short games can be more intense than long ones.
  • It's nice if I can learn new things about the game without dying or ruining my game every time. Of course some learning by death is a part of the roguelike charm, but the player should be able to blame himself afterwards. Deadly surprises late in the game are particularly unfortunate. The player should be able to encounter many deadly mechanics early in the game, when losing the game isn't such a big deal.
  • Making me obsess over the ultimate character build is a great way to get me hooked to a game. For this obsession to come about, there needs to be some mutually exclusive decisions in character development, not just grinding until I have the ultimate spellcaster tank. And I need to have good control over character development, it's better to have a point allocation or a class level system than skills that develop when used. Baldur's Gate 2 has quite a warped and nonsensical character development system, but it really makes you obsess over figuring out some obscenely powerful build. And of course to really pull this off, make sure there isn't a real ultimate character build, just a lot of mediocre ones, some good ones and a few evilly powerful ones that require some deviousness to achieve, not just putting all the character points in speed.
  • Simple game mechanics with lots of uses are good. Using the same mechanic in different contexts might be interesting. For example, suppose living things have stats like skill, power and health. Maybe equipment has the same stats. The equipment's stats are just added to the character's stats when used, but if hit with an Animate Object spell, the equipment can turn into a creature with the same stats. I think this is more interesting complexity than a huge bundle of ad hoc mechanics.
  • It's good to have some idea about what the final goal is and have a sense that I might actually accomplish it. Having subgoals on the way helps this. I'm a lot less likely to get overwhelmed if my initial task is to go see whether a shrine on dungeon level 5 has been desecrated than if it is to travel to dungeon level 200 and slay the Greater Avatar of Ultimate Chaos, even though the former might be the first quest in a chain which eventually leads down level 200.


  1. ADOM - The first RL I played, and possibly the best-developed of them all. There is an enourmous amount of things while still maintaining a perfectly balanced flavor. The large amount of commands is also a good thing--I love how everything that can be done is actually doable through one or two keystrokes without going overboard on things that can be done (like kitchen sinks in nethack). The randomly generated dungeons with fixed levels and lack of random monster quests (only 1 is normal to do; if you screw up some stuff you can do up to 3) are also great; they ensure that I will never have the same game twice, but that I won't be lost in the randomness either. The latest version is almost bug-free, with the only prominent bugs being that the skill-boosting talents crash the game (they can only be taken at the start of a game, so you won't crash a level 48 character over this), and two randomly generated artifacts can't be generated (out of over 30 that each have a tiny chance to be generated in the course of a game)
  2. Rogue - It is an extremely sturdy roguelike, and is pretty fun, although lack of flavor and features hurts it.
  3. Angband - I don't like hacking through layer and layer of randomly generated dungeon; I like continuity to my life. After killing droves of monsters that are identical in all but name, it is pretty hard to be interested. With some guaranteed levels and more unique monsters rather than clones, this game would be a lot funner.
  4. Nethack - Ugh, I hate this game. It is utterly and completely like an American car--just a bunch of parts shoved together to make a whole thing, which isn't very good because none of the parts are made for good compatibility with one another. Seriously, I don't want to be fighting the horsemen of the apocolypse, killing a bunch of demon lords, and seeing a colony of gnomes that don't care about any of this in the same game. The sheer amount of incongruous features (like the famed kitchen sink) and classes (archeologist? tourist? valkerie? all in one game?) pisses me off. The monster variety is also fairly lackluster. I got overwhelmed by random items though that I couldn't concentrate on any storyline--all I wanted to know was what my towel could do.


  1. Larn - I played a great deal of Larn in the 90s. I'm surprised no one else mentioned it. I thought it was an excellent game at the time, and still do. It has the advantage of being small - you can play a game in an evening - and has a certain flavor. It has the Lance of Death, and you can be called a 'mighty evil master' at the end! What more could you want?
  2. ADOM - Only large game I've managed to complete. Unquestionably fun. Then again I was playing an earlier version. I don't know if I'd enjoy current versions. They seem more feature heavy.
  3. Angband - The grinding essence of roguelikeness.
  4. NppAngband - Similar enough to, yet superior enough than, Vanilla Angband, that IMO there is no reason to play Vanilla any more.
  5. Quickband - Like Angband except I can actually win it. I've given up on ever winning V or NPP. I don't have the patience.
  6. Hack - Not Nethack! Another one from the 90s.
  7. DoomRL - Double shotgun gibbing goodness
  8. Letter Hunt - Neat concept, kept me entertained for a while.
  9. DROD - Ditto. But could have been so much better.
  10. Diablo 2 - Hovers on the edge of roguelikeness in my opinion.
  11. Moria - Another one from the 90s.

Alan Monroe

Larn - My favorite for many reasons. It's much shorter/easier than all other Roguelikes. It doesn't have hunger or decaying lightsource (most annoying features ever). I liked the Amiga version's tile set. No player classes - I can be a fighter and wizard simultaneously. someone else already mentioned the cool titles you earn when leveling up. I find its map style more natural than Nethack's (basic, boring) 9 rooms. I like its shopping interface. You know what most items are just by the messages they display upon using them, rather than fiddling around with identifying them or waiting for your pet to pick them up. I found the three letter spell codes fun to learn too.

jude hungerford

  1. Crawl - by far my favourite roguelike, and the one I play most. It does have a problem with frequent (sometimes unavoidable) death in the very early game.
  2. Rogue - inspiring to see how much fun can be had from such a simple concept. The same can be said of many of the smaller roguelikes.
  3. Nethack - I like (some of) its sense of humour. I haven't ever gotten very far into it, having (only?) played a thousand or so games. But I play it as a fun diversion.
  4. ADOM - Very good in many ways, but in the end I just don't have fun playing it. Too much death for too little reward.
  5. Moria - I played it for years before I knew the word "roguelike". It was better than any other game I had. It's still better than Angband in many ways.
  6. Angband - Played this one for a year or three after I discovered that there were more games like Moria. It's odd to see how much work has gone into this game and its variants, and how boring I find the result. Compelling when I was fourteen, though. Once I discovered Crawl, I never really went back to the non-persistent-level roguelikes, except to briefly try ToME, and discover that it was even bigger than Angband, and just as boring.

There are others which I am sure are worthy of note, but the above are the ones I have played enough to comment confidently on.


  1. Rogue - my first RL (CPC version!), quite addictive, simple gameplay, no special plot but who cares :-D
  2. ADOM - playing it for 9 years, very replayable, some minor annoyances (e.g. corruption), many things to do, tactics and ways to deal with situations
  3. Crawl - the perfect arcade RL, battle, battle, battle
  4. Nethack - so crazy it is interesting, needs seriours spoiler help though, still play it occasionaly
  5. GearHead - one of the best games I've played, consistent, interesting quests, unique world
  6. CastlevaniaRL - as a fan of the Castlevania universe, it is quite interesting with some nice ideas (2.5D areas, day/night, etc)


  1. ADOM - This is the first RL I ever played. My girlfriend recommended it to me once and it's at the same time the hardest, most coplex and most interesting with more features than I could explore on my own.
  2. CastlevaniaRL - A very unique game in my opinion with several uncommon aspects. Much more of a quick game, but not comparable and certainly not less fun.
  3. DungeonBash - Exactly the kind of game where you don't have to worry about doing too much wrong. The game for a quick session. I'm looking forward to the planned version with more complex elements.


Order of first played (50 games or more):

  • Moria - The first roguelike experience, great game to start with, very repetitive though as are all *band games. Only finished it once after i realised the slower you decend the easier it is to win. 3/5
  • *band - Not that better than Moria and I rarely play them. Although NPP and Quickband are exeptions. 3/5
  • Alphaman - First and only post-apoc RL game i've played. Some interesting ideas. 1.5/5
  • ADOM - Probably the most user friendly RL, I had no real problem getting in to this one after playing years of Moria. Only challenging when you get to Mid level. 4.5/5
  • Nethack - Never got into it, and never will. Mostly because adom and crawl are so much better. 2/5
  • Crawl - I would of played this a lot more if it was around earlier. This is a great game, varied play style is great. I have never got passed level 12 though. I love the skill and magic system. Dont have much time to play it now. 4/5
  • DoomRL - Played about a month of this. Great game, perfect challenge, just the right level of difficulty. Not many unexpected deaths as in most RLs. (many of expected deaths though) 3/5
  • My Game - I spend most of my time playing this so I dont have much time for RLs anymore. I will have a beta release in a week. unrated


I've played Crawl, Nethack, Slash'EM and ADOM(to a lesser extent) extensively. Ranking them in order:

  1. Crawl - By far the best Roguelike out there. Variety, challenging and fast paced. The thing I love most is that it nearly eliminates scumming. There are avenues for scummers--Nemelex, Mummies and Pandemonium, though all of these have "complications" even for the most skilled scummers, but for the most part descent is driven by the need for food and the low monster respawn rates. Did I mention that food is at the heart of what makes the game work? It powers spellcasting, invocations, HP/MP regeneration and various special abilities. That's why the Amulet of the Gourmand is such a coveted item--it lets you eat when you're not Hungry/Starving and it lets you eat rotten meat with no ill effects. There are lots of other reasons to love this game, but I'll stop here. If you're having trouble succeeding at it, Google "a the human fighter" and "b the deep elf conjurer". Both are chronicles of two successful crawl characters and go into the different strategy and tactics integral to success. I don't think you should sit around casting magic dart a wall with all skills but Spellcasting turned off like he recommends in "b" though... it's unnecessary tedium IMO.
  2. Nethack/Slash'EM - Pretty decent as roguelikes go. The early game is challenging, but nothing on the level of Crawl(I read that Marvin ascended ~12 times in a row in Nethack... 2 in a row would take a lot of luck even for an expert in Crawl. I'd like to see how he fares at Crawl, actually!). Nethack has a high barrier to entry for new players--you have to learn an overwhelming amount of wacky, nonsensical information to succeed. The real problems with Nethack, though, are character homogeneity, an easy and tedious end game and rewards for scumming(Alchemy, Altar Saccing, Foocubi, Reverse Genocide Wraiths, Stealing from Shops...).
  3. ADOM - The fixed early game really frustrated me, so I can't give this game a fair review. It's one thing to die over and over on D: 1 like in Crawl, but it's quite another to die over and over again right after finishing the same boring quests.

I've dabbled in Angband variants... the most promising looks to be quickband as the other versions are just too repetitive for my tastes.


  1. Crawl - In my opinion best RL. It's hard. It's cruel. I love it. There are lot dangerous situations but they can be (sometimes) solved. Problem is that istead YASD from another you have

Yet Another Unavoidable Death wasp without poison res, /paralyzed by eye and killed by nearbly ogre

  1. Nethack SLASH'EM - It's designed with spoilers in mind.
  2. ADOM - Is too repetive. Quests are great first time but when you play it 1000 time its quite boring. Another issue is that without scumming its insane hard and with it's insane easy. Only early game is challenging,midgame turns insane easy or impossible(Play spellcaster swich to coward and you are invicible.)


The UnReal World -- The scope and the survival(/)simulation aspects rule! This has lots of things going for it but some bugs/exploit possibilities and more missed potential are a bit frustrating if you shell out the money for the unrestricted full game.

Adom -- It's all been said already.

GearHead: Arena -- I miss perma-death and the hunt for good equipment (rather than racking up kills for money and revisiting a shop till they suddenly have the item in stock sort of in a blink of an eye) the rest is ace, though!

Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress -- Oh so promising!

IVAN -- Where else do the enemies use the scattered equipment so well? I like the graphics (sue me)! Body parts damage system and dismemberment! It's heaps of fun.

(I-/)ULarn -- Haven't played this, too much but: Quite some stuff to figure out and the process is fun. The time limit (which can be prolonged) adds a welcome feel of urgency. As has been said the dungeon generator produces nice layouts. You get to bring your money to the bank and there's dealer Mc Dope.

Crawl -- It's all been said already. Though I don't think it's that polished and balanced(the classes and spells).

DoomRL -- Doom + Roguelike!

Nethack -- It's all been said already. Though I like the classes and stuff even if they don't fit/mix. More variety=Yay I say!

Angband/Moria thingies -- Repititive/bland no pressure to move on.


I don't list RLs i didn't like enough because, obviously, i didn't play a lot those i didn't like...(i'm not masochist)

UnReal World -- The only survival RL i know. And a very unique setting.

Adom -- Nice skills, nice adventure feeling, but i don't like the non-permanence of dungeons.

Nethack -- Mainly Slash'Em, in fact. I know no other RL with so many interactions possibilities (on a tactical scale only).

IVAN -- Gory, humorous, fun. IMO, it looks like a modern Nethack.

Sword of Fargoal -- Quick and simple gameplay. It could be defined as an arcade RL.

Mordor -- IMO, this is a RL. The most old-school dungeon crawling CRPG ever made.

CastlevaniaRL -- While being very hard this is one of the most enjoyable "coffee-break" RLs.

DoomRL -- copy/paste what i said about CastlevaniaRL. (but easier)


I hope these aren't too long, but I tried to be descriptive of the positives and negatives I saw in these games.

  • Crawl--My favorite roguelike, and one of my favorite games, period. Crawl is fun and addicting, for sure. And challenging. This game is frustrating sometimes for someone like me, who usually plays at a slow pace--you HAVE to move on after exploring a level, or you'll starve. Oddly enough, though, this is part of the reason I like the game. It forces me to move on, whether I feel ready or not, into new and dangerous territory. This game also rewards good strategy and good tactics, while punnishing scumming and other cheap tactics. And, this game succeeds in creating the need and desire to experiment in developing powerful characters. One thing which causes difficulty for me is that Crawl isn't kind to Jack of All Trades characters--but I think of it as a challenge rather than a punishment.
  • Xenocide--It was addicting, but more importantly it was fun. It has a lot of the stuff that I like about Crawl, like the system where unused exp raise skills by using them, and the fact that different types of chars with different abilities are able to advance (unlike some roguelikes). The game also has other great ideas, like interesting boss fights, lots of interesting items, and a DNA splicing system which makes you want to try all kinds of combinations to see what'll happen. Unfortunately, one of my characters was recently killed by a bug in the program. I think it's a shame this game isn't being worked on anymore.
  • ADOM--Another fun roguelike. This game gives many opportunities to develop a character in whatever way you want; however, it's easier to scum. There are also more opportunities to have your equipment trashed and stats hurt, so you have to be careful. One thing which bugged me was the spell attunement system--how many more times you can cast a spell before needing to relearn it. But that's nicely counterbalanced by the spell proficiency system.
  • GearHead--Also fun and addicting. Many of its best features are shared with Crawl. It's parts system is great--everything (most notably, mecha) has parts and components, and all of those parts have unique functions and abilities. If you want to disable someone's attack, attack the arm that's holding the weapon. If a mecha's too fast for you, bust one of its legs. Some big problems I have with GearHead, though: It doesn't have permadeath (instead, an annoying Wangtta trait builds up when you die); and experience gain is much too supportive of having minimalist equipment, meaning that a martial artist who doesn't carry any equipment will gain experience rediculously fast, while someone using decent equipment will have difficulties gaining exp. And the stories and character interactions can be described as filling in the blank with random stuff. That can be funny, but it's mostly kinda cold and dull.
  • IVAN--An addicting, but very frustrating game. IVAN punnishes ALMOST EVERYTHING. Scumming, improving you character in any way, slow playing, fast playing, having bad equipment, having good equipment, having bad stats, having good stats, etc. The ONLY thing IVAN doesn't punish is good tactics--but it sure as heck won't reward good tactics, either. No matter what thing you do that are normally considered good in RLs, you'll just be given harder enemies, and no breaks. The lack of rewards for effort really bugged me. Not even the NPCs will give you a pat on the back for any of your efforts. It's nearly impossible to tell how close your enemies are to death, so you don't know whether to flee or fight a little longer in a tough situation (and believe me, there'll be tough situations left and right). And gameplay is almost entirely fighter oriented--if you'd like to play a magic user, ranger, monk, or rogue character for variety, you're out of luck. But there are positives to IVAN, which are what make it addicting and interesting (though still unrewarding) to begin with. First off, every character, especially your own, has the potential to develop or deteriorate according to their actions. If you fight with one knife, your knife hand will get faster and a tad stronger, you'll gain experience in fighting with knives in general and that specific knife, and your other hand will atrophy due to disuse. If you fight with a big sword, you gain lots of strength, and become a good swordfigter. And if you run like a wuss in the face of danger, you'll become a faster, more agile wuss with experience. Also, EVERYTHING in the game is interactive. Depending on your foot strength and your boots' enchantment, you can have difficulty kicking down a cheap wooden door, or bust down rock walls with ease. If a metal room with a locked metal door can't be opened, throw some acid at it (or if you must, vomit on it), and it'll eventually corrode. And, very notable for a roguelike, IVAN uses graphics pretty effectively.


  • ADOM: ADOM got me back to enjoying roguelikes, after a long time of no computer gaming at all. I like the mood; it displays a pretty good balance between random and predetermined, I think. Still, I almost never reach the late middle game, having a tendency to charge into unfriendly confrontantions, playing hurthling barbarians and other odd race/class combinations.
  • Rogue: Credit where credit is due. Not only an innovative game at its time, but truly a classic, a work that keeps its value and stands its guard as time passes. Rogue is certainly a coffee break game in the sense that you constantly get killed by jabberwocks, kestrels and other weirdnesses. But also highly addictive. To people like us, pondering more than the next guy about roguelikes, it's hard to miss some beautiful principles. Rogue is so simple -- it's all about slaughtering and hoarding gold, the LOS is ridiculously/brilliantly basic, etc. -- and thus it makes your blood freeze as an unknown capital letter staggers into the room, hungry for your blood. Rogue is such an inspired game that it inspired a whole genre of games. It is our "Gilgamesh". Seriously -- if you are using a Debian-based Linux distribution, install "bsdgames-nonfree" (non-free/multiverse since its license prohibits commercial use -- you can live with that), fire up a commandline, and run "rogue". (For other OSes, I haven't a clue.)
  • GearHead: Well. "Played a lot", I don't know. Certainly not long enough, since I fail to get a lot of what's going on. What I like in Gearhead is the heavy element of randomized "role playing"/mood. I think the dialogue/chat function is perhaps a bit weird, but based on an innovative, good idea. What keeps me from playing Gearhead more is probably just the fact that I don't like mechas. Alas.
  • Nethack/Crawl: Yet again, games I haven't "[p]layed a lot". Both are interesting. Nethack in its mind-boggling complexity! Crawl has a drawn back quality that appeals to me. The pantheon is interesting, for instance.
  • Angband: Well, you never forget your first love. (Could I put "Bard's Tale" for C64 on the list?) Still, playing Angband today just doesn't do it for me. Although sometimes I'll smile, maybe just at the memory of selling a particularly bad, unindentified object at a particularly high price.


  • Dwarf Fortress--Bay 12 games did a bang up job so far, it is still actively being developed, Yes it is a strategy/sim game but there is an interesting adventure game attached to it, which needs a bunch of work. However, the great appeal is in the detailed combat system. Grappling plays a major factor, something truly rewarding about getting a goblin in a headlock, thrusting a spear through his foot then throwing him across the room, tearing his foot of in the process. This is my first exposure to the world of RL, I quit playing World of Warcraft and other commercial games for the most part, to enjoy and support independent games.
  • Incursion--This is what I am playing obsessively at the moment, it is the best true RL I have played yet. Character skills and type are somewhat based on a very popular pen and paper RPG. Well developed religious aspect, with the options to convert and do certain acts to appease your god. The floors are persistent, which I value and not everything in the dungeon is hostile. Many rooms have descriptions, some effect the player, like limiting your fighting abilities due to narrow passages. The inventory system is amazing, complete with a backpack that you can really use to store items and have them be protected, somewhat by the leather. Eating is nice, though it does lack a butchering mechanic like other games have, it does prompt you when full to stop or continue to eat after reaching fullness, which can be funny to see a few partially eaten elf corpse strewn about in your wake. The items themselves in the inventory have different AC protecting them from acids, fire and the like. Interface is easy to follow, though slightly different from other games, it took me about 20 mins to get 100% comfortable with it. This game is still being developed as of June 22, 2008, so expect bugs, crashes and other issues. I believe that this game will be the RL to play after it is complete, setting new standards for others to beat.

  • POWDER--Very cool game, has some nice looking tiles. Class development is conducted while playing rather than being limited during character creation, which is a nice feature if you like having more freedom. Nice concepts revolve around item sets, which may not provide the uber armor factor, but rather serve to impress your deity. I like that gods reward snappy dressers. There is not a lot of story to it, which for me limits the re-playability somewhat, not that I have beaten it or anything, because it is very RL and challenging.
  • CastlevaniaRL--A lot of work was placed into making this a homage to the series, which really does an excellent job at immersing you into the game world. Same weapons, heart-based health system, music and enemies packaged up with a killer tile set and intro to the game exactly like the console games. Wicked, I consider this a coffee break game, not a in depth roleplaying experience, simply due to the nature of the game series. There are several classes to play however.
  • Stone Soup and Crawl--Of the Traditional RL these are the ones I have spent the most time in attempting to beat. Classics, excellent race and classes to pick from. Basic story line guides your decent, persistent levels, nice tile sets and some excellent butchering of corpses for food make this a game to try out.


  • Crawl - Almost the perfect game. Great race/class choices, large selection of religions and spells, well done skill system, huge dungeon with a good variety of areas and monsters. Very difficult, but not quite to the point of aggravating - I think I can get any race/class combo up to level 3, but getting into the double digits takes a good mixture of skill and luck. Really, the only thing that could make this game better is an easy mode. Double starting HP, double HP gain on level up and cut your final score down by half - sounds fair, and it'd be nice to be able to try stuff that you wouldn't dare in a real game of Crawl.
  • NetHack - The first Roguelike I ever played. I like that each class gets a pet - adds a little bit to the game. In the end, everything in the game is just too bizarre and mismatched. If all the random stuff and weirdness didn't negatively affect gameplay so much, then I might like NetHack more. As for now, it's fun for a bit, but grows old fast.
  • ZAngband - Better than NetHack, since the world actually has a consistent feel to it. I think the quest system was implemented well. This is one of the best put together versions of the 'bands out there. But still, this game seems a little too bland and tasteless to me.


  • ADOM - My first roguelike. It is currently my second favorite RL of all time. My favorite features are the class-dependent abilities and the quests. I think it is one of the most balanced RLs I've ever played and doesn't require much grinding except right before the Tower since you generally find adequate equipment as you move towards your goal. I think the only feature I would want to see improved would be the religion system. All the deities are essentially the same with the chaotic ones (in my opinion) slightly worse.
  • Dungeon Crawl - This is currently my number one favorite RL. I love the huge variety of races and classes, the spell system, and most particularly the religion system which has unique gods. I like how it is a fast paced RL with a completely random dungeon with specific types of sub-dungeons. The only thing I would want to see improved would be the addition of any kind of story.
  • Angband + variants - I played Angband, ToME, Zangband+, and a few other *bands, and I enjoyed most of them for a little while with ToME and Zangband+ being my favorites. I thought they were decent, although they don't seem as polished as ADOM and Crawl. It might be the non-persistent levels, which I don't particularly mind after my start with ADOM's infinite dungeon.
  • NetHack - Eh. I played this for a while since it was one of the Major RLs, but I couldn't get into it. I liked all the different things you could do, and I liked how many features seemed completely ridiculous but I think that that ultimately detracted from its value. I liked the Sokoban levels but never got much farther than that, so I can't say much about the other special levels.


  • 1. ToME4 - This is my favourite because it has a slightly different feel to other RLs. The talents system is great and there are no anti-grinding measures so you can take your time as much as you like. The difficulty curve feels comfortable -- You can powerlevel for the obstacles ahead, but as you near the endgame that is no longer an option.
  • 2. Gates of Hell Spelunky - This Spelunky variant is very fun. Basically, it's to Spelunky what SLASH'EM is to NetHack. It's much harder and there's a lot more content.
  • 3. NetHack -- I could never do very well at it. The anti-grinding really put me off. Great fun, though.
  • 4. Vanilla Spelunky -- Not quite as good as a lot of its variants due to being too easy, but fun enough for newbies.
  • 5. Crawl. Playable enough, but I don't like the way it kills you for no reason. Exciting, though, and I might play it a bit more.
  • 6. Dwarf Fortress. I enjoyed the incredible depth of this game, but it's so hard to get into and the documentation is terrible. It's a fun sandbox game, at least until your dwarves start getting upset for no apparent reason.
  • 7. Adventurer. I would like to put this higher as it's an awesome game, but it crashes and freezes all the time. I like the huge selection of races.
  • 8. Angband. It feels rather tedious and I haven't even gotten past level two.
  • 9. Triangle Wizard. Some crossovers should not be made. This is one of them.
  • 10. ADOM. I was very disappointed. It feels clunky and unintuitive, and it doesn't offer anything that NetHack doesn't already have. ESPECIALLY bad is the anti-grinding.
  • 11. POWDER. You can't tell what any of the buttons do because the icons are so abstract. Whose idea was it to click on a button to eat an item instead of a simple "e" command or, even better, simple "use" key, or perhaps even keys mapped to inventory slots?


  1. Ascii Sector - This is probably my favorite roguelikelike. AS features an easy-to-learn interface, plus enjoyable combat systems on both land and air. The player chooses his role by his actions, not by a menu at the beginning of the game; the subjectivity of roles (I can be both a bounty hunter and a merchant at the same time) adds partially to the realism. Although AS is still in beta and has many rough edges (the pirate role is a little fuzzy, and the game currently lacks a plot), it has excellent potential. Plus, I learned a little about microeconomics along the way.
  2. Crawl - I haven't really played this game much, but I like it already. It's much more intuitive to use than some of its ancestors; its graphics are impressive for a hardcore text-mode roguelike.
  3. TreeBurner - See below. Mindless real-time hack-'n'-slash fun.
  4. Pyromancer - Okay, maybe this is just a demo and it doesn't have much replay value, but this one was mindlessly fun. The graphics are amazing for simple text, and the interface is pleasantly intuitive. If this is the combat system planned for TCOD, then I can't wait for the full release.
  5. NetHack - This is one of the most difficult games I've ever played. I'm very bad at it, but I enjoy it anyway. The bizarre collection of items and monsters plus the insane multitasking (fighting hordes of monsters while playing the identification minigame and keeping yourself from starving) have me coming back every time. Maybe I'm just a masochist, but NetHack is hecka fun.
  6. Tombs of Asciiroth - This is more of a grid-based puzzle game than a roguelike. I feel that ToA's combat system needs a lot of refinement; I find myself spending more time running back and forth across a huge map exchanging keys and doors than bashing helmets into metal pancakes. Puzzles are nice, but they don't seem to work well in a real-time roguelike.


  1. Castle of the Winds - where it all began. I started playing this on a Windows 3.1 PC when I was eight. It took years to win it for the first time since English isn't my native language and I couldn't understand half of what the game was saying. Then it took many more years to finally find part 2 of the game by using Google. By that time I already had thousands of hours played in volume 1, and managed to ascend soon after starting to play volume 2. Then I replayed it a lot. Also used lots of hex-editing on my savegame files, discovering a "minus world" that's so much fun to play, it completely reinvented the game for me! This minus world is a part of the game that the developers never created; anyone who would like to see them may contact me to get those saved games. Even now, after all these years, I still play CoW occasionally.
  2. Diablo 2 - my brother introduced me to it, and it has since become one of my most played games. Modded the hell out of it, and I'm still playing it a lot. Single player or LAN only since my home PC doesn't have internet access.
  3. Diablo - got it way later than Diablo 2, and never really got around with the awful controls and lack of Diablo 2's features (stash, gems, ability to run etc.). Still, thanks to the Incandescence plugin I have since put all of Diablo's monsters in my Diablo 2 mod, and they really add to the game IMHO.
  4. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - only tried Red Rescue Team, and I kept getting killed by flying-types due to being a fighting-type. It's a fun game but it would be much better if the Universal Pokemon Randomizer was able to randomize it.
  5. NetHack - a relatively recent discovery, I found this game to be actually quite similar to Castle of the Winds and started to really like it really quickly. However, the best thing is that there's a lot of variants, so...
  6. UnNetHack - this fork always seemed easier than vanilla NetHack for some reason, and I played it quite a lot. Then I discovered...
  7. UnNetHackPlus - gotta love the "pokedex" feature! And then there was...
  8. SLASH'EM - at first I had lots of trouble getting anywhere in this fork. But then I started modding (with a hex editor at first since I didn't have a compiler at that time) and suddenly I was doing better than in UnNetHack.
  9. Angband - discovered by reading about NetHack. I gave it a try but it pales compared to NetHack. Still has some nice ideas though.
  10. ADOM - My first character died so quickly and I felt like being totally unable to do anything, it wasn't even funny. But the worst part is the designer is actively trying to prevent modding. So, no. Time to move on.
  11. CastlevaniaRL - didn't get far yet, but I like the music of that game.
  12. Unangband - this is actually fun, but I still prefer NetHack's ASCII over Angband's ASCII characters, and bands don't have persistent dungeons unfortunately.
  13. ToME - tried both version 2.2.3 (or something like that) with the LostSoul birth option, and MajEyal; both of them are borderline unplayable IMHO. My MajEyal character only had the options to either clear out a ritch-infested dungeon or an underwater one, both of which were impossible to beat for a level 1 character, and the interface is confusing as hell. And my Middle Earth characters just never seem to be able to kill anything, no matter what I do; it seems every character I try to play has a 10% or lower chance to hit the monsters, and they have a 95% chance to hit me. No chance to get anywhere, the only thing I can do is run away from every monster because fighting them isn't winnable.

Then I picked up the C programming language, and since I was enjoying SLASH'EM the most, decided to make it into something even better. This led to the birth of...

  • Slash'EM Extended - which gradually integrated lots of features from other NetHack variants, and also incorporated ideas from other roguelikes. The LostSoul option from ToME is in there, too! Currently I'm still actively developing this variant, and it already has everything and the kitchen sink as well as lots more, but I'm not done yet. Of course, being the dev team and all, I'll always state that Slash'EM Extended is the best roguelike ever, but Diablo 2 is great too, and some of the others get played occasionally for a change of pace. And of course I won't forget the nostalgic Castle of the Winds, which I even honored with a role-specific Slash'EM Extended quest (the "Spacewars Fighter" role that also has similar starting equipment to CoW).