I really like "rogue-lites". While I'm fascinated with "roguelikes", I lack the patience that is required to get into and learn a roguelike. I do however have the utmost of respect for the people who do get into those kinds of games. I guess that they're just not for me. But, there is something that I have in common with the roguelike crowd, and that is that I appreciate randomness in games. A strong game with randomness backing it is a really fun experience that can last you a long time.
There is some debate around what makes a "roguelike" and a "rogue-lite", and I figured that I would throw my two stick onto the fire that is "internet video-game debate."
I view a "roguelike" as a game that is as close to the spirit of "Rogue" as possible. For those uninitiated: Rogue is a PC-game from 1980 famous for its heavy use of procedural generation. In short, no game of Rogue was ever the same. So, it stands to reason that a Roguelike is game that uses the same level of procedural generation. The big example here would be Dwarf Fortress or as it's more "official" name: "Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress".
The biggest strength in a Roguelike is the randomness. No two games are ever the same. It's usually done in such a manner that even potions switch effects between games. So you're never really sure on what you are getting yourself into before the game starts. You might do super well, get the best armor, find a sweet weapon and just stomp your way to victory. Or you might just end up starting out next to a dragon, with your foot firmly crushing its eggs.
This strength also translates into one of the genres biggest flaws. The random nature of the games usually make the quite complex and difficult to learn. You can never truly become "good" at any given roguelike, and getting "competent" is a task of itself. This is where rogue-lites come in, to alleviate the games of some of it's difficulty. Trading off some complexity in the deal.
A rogue-lite is a game that has elements of procedural generation. Usually, a rogue-lite has random level-creation, random loot and random enemies. The difference is that rogue-lites don't go "all the way". Most rogue-lites have static effects on items, a fair starting position and a generally smoother, but less interesting, trip to the finish.
One of the strengths of the orgue-lite could be its flexibility. Where most roguelikes ad-hear to tradition and standard, rogue-lites have been made in nearly every genre there is. There's rogue-lites that are side-scrollers, shooters, third-person games etc etc.
So, while I can't help you much in the roguelike department, I can talk about some rogue-lites.
This game was the inspiration to this article. It's a first-person "six-degree-of-freedom"-shooter. That basically means "first person shooter in zero gravity". Those of you who have played Descent or Forsaken will feel right at home.
The game, in essence, is a shooter with randomness thrown into the level design and the item-drops. While enemy design/power, weapon/armor levels are kept static. The game rewards quick-thinking and even quicker reactions. It is also quite the beauty to look at. Well, it's no Crysis, but it has a certain way about it that makes it really easy on the eyes when the game is in motion.
Catacomb Kids is an action-platformer. You run, you jump, you climb, you murder enemies and then you eat them. Yes, the feasting of on ones foes is central to the game, since it is the most effective way of increasing ones own health-bar. The game has a lot of RPG-mechanics with stats, level ups and magical items. The random elements in this game is the level-design, item-function/stats and character creation. Each time you start the game, you get to pick your character from a pool of randomly generated heroes. Each hero has its own class, looks and items. Each character also comes with four unique traits. Some are positive, such as extra skill with a weapon or a certain finesse when eating corpses, and some are negative, such as extra loud steps or hatred for certain weapons.
This has been a personal favorite of mine for a long time. The game is simple, you are tasked with collecting all manners of item from cargo containers floating in space. You activate the magnet on your container to draw them in, then use your trust drill/power-glove/modular weapon to dispatch enemies, walls and boxes in your way. The magnet can only hold the containers for so long, so with every excursion outside your base you are racing against the clock.
The randomness in this game comes purely from level-design. Each container that you pull in is randomly generated, and the containers smash into each other, creating the level as the magnet pulls them in. It's easy to understand, quick to get into and endlessly entertaining.
There is also a feature in the game specifically designed to let the player both let out steam and communicated to the (game) world their feelings. Just push the magical "F" key and the following happens:
There are many more great rogue-lite games out there. I wish I had the patience for the roguelikes, but for the time being, I'll probably stick to the "lites". The games I have displayed for you today have something in common, something that probably is the one thing that I appreciate the most about "good" rogue-lites. That is that the games have strong mechanics backing the entire randomness affair. This is crucial for me, as a mechanics-kind-a-guy. But your mileage may vary.