Best roguelike games: a beginner's guide to the die-a-lot genre

Zagreas holding a sword in Hades
(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

The best roguelikes will keep you coming back despite the difficult and complex obstacles, which may even make you feel like you want to throw your controller out the window. 

Recently, we have seen plenty of roguelike games that players can enjoy. Titles like Vampire Survivors, Ravenswatch, and Endless Dungeon are all great fun and are well worth checking out. Many of these entries also make an appearance on our best indie games list as well, for good measure. 

Roguelike games also come in all shapes and sizes, with some being more action-packed and others relying on deck-based fights. While most will push you to your limits, there are a few games out there that won't make your brain melt too much. 

If you're a huge fan of roguelikes or just want to take a first step into this murky genre, then check out our list of all the must-play roguelike games available right now.

Best roguelike games

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Image credit: Edmund McMillen

Image credit: Edmund McMillen

The Binding of Isaac

Gory, grotesque, and genuinely fun
Why we love it

The Binding of Isaac is the perfect game to play if you have time to kill and want to torture yourself a bit. In all honesty this game is timeless and is always a safe bet if you want to explore a biblical basement full of monsters.

Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC

No best roguelike games list would be complete without The Binding of Isaac; it's a quintessential roguelike game. You play as Isaac – initially at least – a poor boy whose mother has been told by God to strike him down. He goes into hiding and winds up in a dungeon-like basement filled with atrocities that seem intent on killing him. If you guide Isaac down deep enough, you actually go through your mother’s womb and even fight Satan. You read that right.

The joy of this roguelike comes from the runs where you become all-powerful. You can become a flying laser-firing cyclops, have an army of babies that attack enemies for you, or even spit teeth at enemies to take them out. This roguelike gets more brutal the better you do, with bosses and new areas becoming more difficult the longer you live. 

As things progress, you'll unlock more powerful playable characters, less powerful ones, and even biblical babies. Eventually, you unlock The Lost, a ghost baby that can only take one hit. Yes, just one hit, and it is game over - to put this in perspective, the latter bosses are all bullet hell fights. You might be wondering why you would do this to yourself; the only way to complete the game is to complete it with every character.

Despite the controller-breaking difficulty, The Binding of Isaac is one of the most rewarding roguelikes out there. After all is said and done, you know you deserve it if you manage to make it to the end. The Binding of Isaac will crush you, and you will love it. 

Image credit: Motion Twin

Image credit: Motion Twin

Dead Cells

Balancing a bottle of nitroglycerin on the end of a sword
Why we love it

Dead Cells is one of the most beautiful and stylish roguelikes around. Getting to experience this stunning world while fighting your way out of a diseased island makes all the pain worthwhile.

Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Android

Dead Cells is a side-on action-platformer game where you get new abilities and unlock new areas as a result of progressing: aka a Metroidvania. You also go back to the beginning when you die, which makes it a roguelike. It's one of the most successful titles on our best roguelike games list, roaring past 10 million sales.

The two terms are naturally at odds with each other, due to the former requiring permanent progression and the latter denying it. Nevertheless, Dead Cells balances both perfectly, like balancing a bottle of nitroglycerin on the end of a sword. 

The combat in this game is balletic. You flow around levels constantly attacking and double-jumping like a pointy spinning-top (or a Beyblade, for you geeks). You can clamber up walls, grow vines, set traps, and set everything on fire. You upgrade your character over the course of each run and then have it taken away from you when you die, or when you succeed. In the unlikely event that you make it past the final boss, the game restarts. 

This time though, you have a boss cell activated that changes the enemies in each level, removes some healing opportunities, and generally turns things up a notch. You can do this several times. The final difficulty gives you three healing chances to last an entire run. Apparently, this is still achievable... 

overview of a restaurant

(Image credit: Yogscast Games)


Never work with friends
Why we love it

If you're looking for a more chaotic version of Overcooked then look no further. While you may not think that's possible, Plate Up, takes the restaurant setting that is full of excitement and then takes everything away if you don't wash the dishes.

Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox One

PlateUp! is delightfully chaotic, no matter if you're playing by yourself or with friends. This restaurant simulator lets you build and manage your restaurant while also cooking food and waiting on customers. 

Each restaurant is procedurally generated, so every playthrough will stand out in how you choose to customize your kitchen. But be warned, this is a roguelite, so as soon as your kitchen gets closed down, you'll have to wave goodbye to all your progress. 

If you love the chaos of working with friends and don't mind the slight frustrations that come with it, then this'll be one of the best roguelike games for you. 

Image credit: Powerhoof

Image credit: Powerhoof


Full of multiplayer murder
Why we love it

Crawl is a classic roguelike that performs all the basics really well. But it's selling point is how you can enjoy it with friends. If you're looking for something new to play on game night then be sure to check this one out.

Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch

Crawl is a Lovecraftian local multiplayer dungeon crawler that sees you descend into a pixel art dungeon - hopefully not into madness. 

There's a good chance you'll die in Crawl; that's the point. The feature that makes this four-player game stand out from the other titles on our best roguelike games list is that only one player can win. Thanks to this small detail, you'll spend most of your time as vengeful ghosts trying to kill the only living player and take their place. Queue the literal backstabbing and murder. 

Deceased players live on as vengeful spirits who can possess traps and furniture, and summon monsters in particular areas that can be used to attack the living. These monsters gain levels and evolve depending on how strong the adventurer is. The stronger the living becomes, the stronger the dead are. It keeps things in balance. The aim is to be the living adventurer first to slay a boss. Then you get to start it all over again. 

The more you play the game, the more content you unlock. You gain access to new and old gods to worship, new items, and deadlier traps. The frantic rush to be the spirit to deal the killing blow to the adventurer is lovely and repeated throughout each game. Why not share the joy of dying a lot with your closest friends?

Image credit: Mega Crit Games

Image credit: Mega Crit Games

Slay the Spire

Combo cards and subtle decisions
Why we love it

This fantastic deckbuilding roguelike takes the cake thanks to its deeply well thought out mechanics that mean no one play through is alike and you can really show off your skills.

Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android

Despite only releasing in January 2019, Slay the Spire has cemented its place in the roguelike genre. On paper, it’s a deck-building, card-battling, turn-based dungeon crawler, but you have to assume it was created by feeding two genres into a randomizer and just going with the results (in the best possible way). 

Your role is to make it to the top of the titular spire. To do this, you journey through different levels, battling various monsters along the way. As you progress, you get new cards to add to your deck and maybe even some fancy equipment. It seems simple, right?

Slay the Spire excels in the subtle decisions you have to make. Adding a new card to your deck should be a good thing. The trouble is, doing so lowers the chances of drawing something else. Whenever a new card is offered, you have to figure out if it is worth taking. Failure means starting again, of course, but you’ll know more about deck composition and strategy this time. It is unique amongst our best roguelike list. 

best single-player games: Zagreus standing in fron of the Pantheon

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)


Defy the gods
Why we love it

If you're a fan of Greek mythology and roguelikes then Hades is a great shout. You not only get to enjoy the incredible roguelike features, but you also get an incredible art style with a thrilling story.

Available on: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch

Hades is a shoe-in for our best roguelike games. It ripped through the internet when it was released in 2020 for a very good reason. 

It's a one-of-a-kind roguelike, with fast-paced action and an incredible story that's based on the Greek mythological underworld. Hades is certainly a Herculean feat with an awe-inspiring art style and mechanics that are friendly for first-time roguelike enthusiasts. 

If you've loved exploring the underworld so far, then we've got some good news for you. During The Game Awards 2022, Hades 2 was announced, so get ready for even more mystery and melodrama when the anticipated sequel eventually releases. 

The wildfrost cast of characters

(Image credit: Chucklefish)


Ice cool
Why we love it

Wildfrost is full of loveable characters and fantastical settings that grip you throughout your expedition. Big Berry isn't a character you'll soon forget.

Available on: PC and Nintendo Switch

Wildfrost is one of the more cute and quirky titles on our best roguelike games list. With a loveable cast of characters and a brilliant art style. Similar to Slay the Spire, this card-based game deploys a strategy to make players think three steps ahead. It's successfully bringing back the classic roguelike struggles.

In classic roguelike style, the trick to this game is its replayability. You won't be able to complete this title on the first run, and each time your return to base camp, you'll be given a brand-new protagonist with differing abilities and power-ups. So even though each run will be slightly different, you'll quickly learn what works best and which adorable bad guy you need to look out for. 

Cult of the Lamb DLC

(Image credit: Devolver Digital)

Cult of the Lamb

A land of false prophets
Why we love it

Cult of the Lamb's art style and story are incredible. Both of these features combine wonderfully to create a unique and engaging universe with some beloved characters.

Cult of the Lamb is one of the more charming additions to this best roguelike games list. This cute title combines classic roguelike traits such as dungeon crawling with detailed town management sections. 

After being sacrificed by four prophets, you're resurrected and set on a mission to build a loyal community of woodland followers who will help you spread your word and become the one true cult.  

You can collect resources to build new structures, perform dark rituals to appease the gods, and crucially recite sermons to reinforce the faith of your growing flock before facing off against The One Who Waits. 

A survivor fights monsters in Vampire Survivors

(Image credit: Poncle)

Vampire Survivors

Extreme garlic breath
Why we love it

Vampire Survivors is a fantastic game to play if all you want to do is sit back, relax, and screen at your screen (in a loving way). The rapid matches and varied abilities and tools mean that not only do you have to think on your feet but that no one match is the same as the next.

Available on: Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, Android, and Steam Deck

Vampire Survivors was and continues to be a smash-hit indie game, with it appearing on our best Steam Deck games list and our best indie game list. This high praise is thanks to its expertly polished and engaging fights, which are frenetic yet fun. 

There have also been tons of recent updates that have expanded the maps, characters, and abilities found in this indie arcade game. The most recent patch brought a new batch for the Seal powerup and four new music tracks for fans to enjoy. 

If you want quick matches that you can dive head-first into repeatedly, then you need to check out Vampire Survivors; you won't be disappointed.

Best roguelike games: FAQs

castle setting with character jumping between platforms

(Image credit: Playdigious)

What's the most popular roguelike?

Everyone will have their own preference for roguelikes, whether that be dungeon crawlers, card builders, or metroidvanias. However, according to Steam Charts, the most-played roguelike game is The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth.

What's the difference between a roguelike and a roguelite

Roguelites aren't just a misspelling of their more popular sibling roguelikes; they do actually differ. Roguelites tend to lack the permadeath feature present in roguelikes, making them easier to master. 

How we made our best roguelike games list

Beating any one of these titles on our best roguelike games list is no small feat. Luckily, many of us at TechRadar Gaming have experience with many titles and various genres, making it easy to collate a list that'll appeal to a wider audience. 

I spent my early days testing my metal in roguelikes. Titles like The Binding of Isaac and Spelunky followed me throughout my formative years, and gave me an unrivalled appreciation of the save button. Even after all these years I'll always make time for an upcoming roguelike.

If you're looking for more games to bolster your library, we've got all the best Nintendo Switch games, best Xbox Series X games, and best PS5 games to cover all platforms. 

Elie Gould
Features Writer

Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications. 

Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased. 

With contributions from