It’s only in recent years that the genre has really come into its own. In addition to signature characteristics including random dungeon generation, a degree of randomness to items and gear, and permadeath, a wide range of other elements have been grafted on to create hybrid games. FTL, Rogue Legacy, Dungeon of the Endless, and Wayward Souls are some solid examples.
A number of successful roguelikes have even come to mobile platforms – marking the further development of mobile as a viable competitor to more traditional gaming formats. I was very recently hooked on such a one, and so I wanted to share with you, dear readers, a few of my mobile roguelike recommendations. These are all available on iOS, and most if not all of them have also come out for Android.
Wayward Souls is one I picked up last year and sank a decent amount of hours into. It’s a real-time, combat-heavy action rogelike that features graphics pleasingly similar to those of the SNES era. You start with 3 available classes – warrior, rogue, mage, and can unlock 3 additional, less traditional classes as you progress. I found the controls to be surprisingly good for a touch-based game, but still more difficult than having a tactile controller, and I think that may be what ultimately put me off to this one. The story is light, but interesting, and each character has his or her own pieces to add as you try to put together what’s going on.
Cardinal Quest 2
This is the one that most recently had its hooks in me. Perhaps the best thing I can say about Cardinal Quest 2 is that it’s a very solid, fun game, and it’s free. There are IAP, but they’re completely unnecessary, and everything can be unlocked by earning in-game currency.
Cardinal Quest 2, as you can see, sports retro-looking, pixelated graphics. This may not appeal to some, but it’s right up my alley. I should point out, though, that it the sprites and tiles are well-crafted, and they may look nice to you even if pixel graphics aren’t your thing.
Gameplay-wise, it’s a very simple system with a lot of customization and a few interesting mechanics going on. There are several available classes, each with their own starting abilities, stats, and equipment. As you progress, you gain experience from killing enemies. When you level up, you get to select traits to level up from your character’s skill tree (again, differs according to the character). Some traits are passive, while others unlock useable abilities.
Combat is turn-based and speed-dependant, so if you have a high speed stat, you may get to move or act two or more times for every one enemy movement. If you’re particularly slow, reverse that. Your attack skill determines your chance to hit, your defense skill determines your chance to block/dodge, etc. One enjoyable mechanic is how stealth works. Basically, enemies are unaware of you until you’re seen. If you attack an unaware enemy, you get a sneak attack, which is a guaranteed hit and a high amount of damage. I’ll just say that a rogue with a low-attack, high damage weapon like a big axe can do very well for himself.
Once you beat all the Acts, there’s an endless mode you can try out, and global leaderboards to compare yourself to. There’s probably a lot more I could say about this title, but instead I’ll just encourage you to pick it up if this sounds like it might be your jam.
Cave of the Enchanted 2
I think one review I read for this one put it something like this – Cave of the Enchanted 2 is one of those games that anyone can beat – it’s not a matter of if, it’s just kind of a march to the end. That said, it’s pleasant enough. There’s a decent amount of customization you can make to your gear, and the combat can be fun if not super interesting.
CoE2 was inspired by Lufia 2’s Ancient Cave – a concept I’ve always been a fan of. Basically you can enter and collect gear and items, but most everything is cursed. You can only leave and return with items from red chests, which are not cursed (or a little later on you can unlock a spell to decurse anything).
Combat-wise, you’re faced with increasingly difficult monsters who kind of lay about and try to block your way. They don’t move, and many can be avoided, though I’d advise you kill them for experience.
I had fun playing CoE2, though challenge is not really an issue. I think there are penalties for dying, but I never died. If you get greedy, I could see overextending yourself, but you can almost always leave before you’re in danger of doing so.
Not a game for challenge-seekers, but a fun diversion.
If you’re a challenge-seeker, this is one for you. I admittedly didn’t get too far into this one, though I intend to give it another shot sometime soon. Pixel Dungeon is a pretty hardcore beast. There are a lot of interesting mechanics that are not really explained, and thus there is a wiki dedicated to doing so. Spells and potions are usually big question marks when acquired – that is, you don’t know what they do and have to test them out. So in my experience, when you really need a little help, you may have to take a big risk, as some of these things may poison you or blow you up.
There also doesn’t seem to be any kind of gradual progress to be made in this one – when you die, that’s it. Start over. Nothing carried over and nothing to unlock, save one additional class. Rough.
I believe there are a number of other mobile-based roguelikes that have done well for themselves, but the ones mentioned above have been my favorites thus far. Happy roguing!