What is a roguelike?

A video game like Rogue

Roguelike games are turn-based RPGs in which players explore procedurally-generated dungeons and must start a new "run" each time they die. At the start of each run, the game generates a new set of dungeons, meaning players will never (or at least, most likely never) encounter the same game map more than once.

The roguelike genre is named for the 1980 game Rogue, a game that showed dungeons, monsters, and the player's character as ASCII text printed in a terminal. For example, pathways between rooms appeared as #s, and zombies appeared as the letter Z. As you'd expect, Rogue was a turn-based dungeon crawler, in which players navigated through the game's text-based dungeons one space at a time. When a player died, they had to start an entirely new game, with a fresh set of dungeons.

Gamers' exact definition of what constitutes a roguelike often varies. For this reason, you may also see games described as "rogue-lite" or "roguelike-like," meaning the game uses some roguelike mechanics, but isn't a "pure" roguelike. Some notable modern "rogue-lites" include:

  • The Binding of Isaac
  • Slay the Spire
  • Risk of Rain
  • Dead Cells
  • Hades


Hades is my favorite roguelike
I mean, it's not actually a roguelike, but okay
A gamer trying to find a pretty roguelike
A gamer trying to find a pretty roguelike

Related Slang


Updated August 26, 2022

Roguelike definition by

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