Over the years, the roguelike genre has slowly grown on me. It used to be the case where I hated the fact that you’d lose your progress upon death, but eventually, I started to get addicted to that risk versus reward gameplay.
Getting into roguelikes has unlocked hundreds of amazing games that I previously had no interest in. Even if you don’t enjoy the roguelike genre much, it’s something I definitely recommend checking out.
I also want to mention that there is a distinction between roguelike and roguelite games, though for the sake of consistency I’ll be referring to every game on this list as roguelikes.
SYNTHETIK: Arena is a top-down shooter with some really interesting mechanics. I’m not really familiar with the SYNTHETIK series, but I do know that those games are paid and this is a free standalone game.
The basic gameplay involves you making your way to the end of the level while fighting off loads of various enemies. You start off with a couple of weapons but can find more in random crates around the map.
The interesting mechanics have to do with the way weapons work. When you need to reload, you need to first eject the magazine and then press the reload button. Then, when you press reload, you can time the reload perfectly to reload faster.
Besides that, there’s also a jam mechanic, and you need to spam a button to get the weapon unjammed.
Jams can happen randomly in battle and really make for a hectic experience. The weapon mechanics overall feel great, though the movement looks a bit clunky.
For a free game though, you can’t be too picky. I really enjoy it, and if you enjoy top-down shooters then you should give it a shot.
Himno is a unique and relaxing 2d platformer with procedurally generated levels. The game doesn’t have any enemies, so the only way to lose is by falling off the platforms into the water.
The entire game has a dark look with the occasional light showing up in the form of torches or small light particles, and you go around the map collecting these particles and looking for the exit.
The entire point of Himno is simply to sit back relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery while platforming. It accomplishes this very well and makes for an amazing game to unwind and play when you’re bored.
It’s nowhere near as deep as other roguelikes on this list, but it would be pretty easy to put a few hours into this game.
Relic Hunters Zero: Remix
Relic Hunters Zero: Remix is a game that reminds me of a lot of games such as Enter the Gungeon and Nuclear Throne. It has somewhat of a bullet hell feel to it, while also having its own unique feel.
The game isn’t as polished and content-rich as some other roguelikes like it, but for a free game, it certainly is a complete package.
The gameplay involves you taking out every enemy on the map, and then searching the map for pieces of relics after each stage. There are a ton of different characters to unlock and stages to go through, and with all the content in it, I’m surprised it doesn’t have a bigger following.
The game also has local coop if you’re interested in that. Overall I think this game is a great free alternative to the highly-rated paid games like it.
Rogue Glitch is a platformer roguelike with overwhelmingly positive reviews. The game has a huge emphasis on platforming, so much so that your weapon autofires for you. The basic gameplay is that you need to progress through the levels and defeat every enemy in the room.
Enemies drop coins which you can use to unlock powerups and purchase items. Rogue Glitch is designed to look like an older game, but the gameplay feels like any modern title, so much so that it could have easily been a paid game.
Also, one thing that I want to point out is that the main character looks suspiciously like an Among Us character, and I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not but everyone points that out in the Steam reviews.
Overall Rogue Glitch is a pretty simple game that feels great to play. Even though it looks easy, the controls and style of platforming will take a few minutes to get used to. I think the game is great and other people on Steam do as well, so you should really give it a shot.
Realm of the Mad God
Anyone who’s seen our content before knows how often this game goes on our lists, and for good reason. Realm of the Mad God is a classic Roguelike game that combines 8-bit graphics with MMO- and bullet-hell-style gameplay and that combination works very well.
Because of this style of graphics, it makes the game a lot easier to run, even on older systems. The typical run in Realm of the Mad God is much longer than most roguelikes though.
The basic gameplay is you start out with barely anything in a massive world, and explore the world defeating enemies for more gear. Periodically, bosses are highlighted on the map for you to defeat for extra XP, and other players in the world can help you with these battles.
The inclusion of many other players is a unique concept when it comes to roguelikes since they are usually single-player or coop games and the way it was implemented really makes for a great experience.
New players can expect to receive help from experienced players in the chat, and you can join up with others to help each other complete missions.
Overall, Realm of the Mad God is one of the best free roguelikes you can play.
Muck is probably the game most people will know about on this list. It was developed by a YouTuber named Dani and has received huge popularity since its release.
This is a game I’ve been holding out on playing for a while, but after trying it I realized that I was really missing out. From the very start, the graphics have a style that I really enjoy. All the animations and little particle physics are satisfying, and it feels like a very polished game.
Besides that, the worlds are actually quite good. Playing this game reminds me of the same feeling I got playing Minecraft for the first time, in the sense that there’s an entirely new world to explore and mechanics to learn.
The gameplay has the same core as a lot of other survival games, such as chopping trees, collecting resources, and crafting items. There are also lots of chests sprinkled throughout the world, as well as chests to open and little ruins to explore
Just to make things even better, there’s humor sprinkled all throughout the game in various forms such as item names.
Muck also has multiplayer, so you can have fun surviving with some friends if you really want to.
It took me a while to finally play Muck, but I’m really glad I did, and I’ll definitely be playing it a lot going forward. You should definitely check it out if it looks interesting to you.