Do you love the adrenaline-pumping thrill of perma-death in games? Love randomly generated levels and finding loot that makes your character more powerful? Then you might like games that borrow heavily from the roguelike genre. There are a lot of great roguelike games on Switch — too many to highlight in one article. This list of ten is just a small sampling of some of the best roguelike games on the Nintendo Switch.
Players take on the role of Billie, the billonth prisoner of a medieval prison. Billie escapes by plunging below the depths of the prison, using her skills to dodge, dash, and items acquired along the journey. Each floor is an individual challenge meant to test your critical thinking. The movement is ice-like and occurs on a grid against enemies with very predictable movement patterns. There are over 400 levels that are randomly selected to create a fresh feeling run each time.
There’s not a lot of complexity in the stats and loot, as most levels can be solved with clever positioning. It’s a tile-based dungeon crawling roguelike that’s worth your attention if you like the genre. Is it one of the best roguelikes on Switch? There are others that are better, but it’s definitely worth a look.
9. Vambrace: Cold Soul
Vambrace: Cold Soul straddles multiple genres to create a unique experience. Fans of Darkest Dungeon will immediately recognize the interface and trappings of the game. Players take on the role of Evelia Lyric, a leader of survivors of a city disabled by a curse. The game is full of allies with their own stories, who can be beneficial in certain situations. Players explore the frozen districts of Icehaire, unlocking secrets as you go.
Caveblazers is a mix of roguelike gameplay from games like Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac. Players take on the role of an explorer in a recently discovered cave that holds tons of power. As you delve deeper, you discover new areas, items, blessings, curses, and more. There’s an extensive list of perks to unlock, so you can change the starting gear of your explorer. Venture deep enough, and you’ll encounter giant boss monsters that require different strategies to defeat.
Each explorer dies permanently and you lose all your items at the end of a run. Another holdover from classic roguelikes include randomized potions between runs. Each area introduces new weapons and monsters to encounter and becomes harder as you progress. The game features Daily Challenge Runs, which gives you one shot with a pre-generated loadout and traits.
7. Risk of Rain 2
The original Risk of Rain is one of the best co-op roguelikes you can play. The developers have returned with Risk of Rain 2, which features the same co-op action in 3D. Players can play solo or with friends to fight through hordes of monsters, unlocking new loot as they go.
What really sets the game apart is the sheer number of upgrades and abilities you can get for your characters. The scaling system in the game also turns once challenging enemies into regular enemies as you progress. The result is a game where you can feel your character’s power growing. There are over 75 items in the game, with the number growing as the developers release updates.
6. Enter the Gungeon
Fans of roguelikes and bullet hell shooters will take to Enter the Gungeon immediately. The game borrows lots of inspiration from The Binding of Isaac, which is also on this list. There are tons of guns to find with plenty of hidden secrets to find. The game is considered complete now after several expansion packs released for free.
There are so many items in this game you’ll need a companion app to learn them all. The game requires fast, twitchy reflexes to progress beyond the first few boss battles. Be prepared to die and respawn a lot as you learn the game. It’s one of the best roguelike games on Switch, though.
5. The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+
The Binding of Isaac has gone through multiple iterations since its original flash release. The Switch version is one of the best you can grab, thanks to its controller interface. The only real downside here is the lack of soundtrack from Danny Baranowsky.
BoI: Afterbirth+ features over 4 billion seeded runs, so there’s plenty of replayability here. There are now over 450+ items in the game, many of which can create synergies for massively over-powered runs. There are 20 challenges available and 100 specialized seeds to experience. The religious imagery may be a little off-putting for some, but it is deliciously gory and gothic in Edmund McMillen’s signature style.
4. Streets of Rogue
Fight, sneak, and hack your way through randomly generated cities as a wide cast of characters. Want to be a doctor who knocks people out? What about an ape who goes crazy? A burglar or hacker? You can be all that and more in Streets of Rogue. The game also features 4-player online or local co-op modes for creating terror in the city with your friends.
Unlocking some of the more advanced characters is fun and you will never have the same play-through twice. The mixture of violence and pure mayhem in Streets of Rogue feels like playing GTA in a 2D world. Incite a gang war between rivals, then bring the cops to beat everyone down. The possibilities are limitless in one of the best Switch roguelikes to date.
3. Cadence of Hyrule
& Crypt of the Necrodancer
Crypt of the Necrodancer combines roguelike dungeon exploring with a rhythm game set to an amazing soundtrack by Danny Baranowsky. When the game released on Switch, it impressed Shigeru Miyamoto so much he reached out to the developers to discuss a collaboration. The result is Cadence of Hyrule, which features much the same gameplay but with all the trappings of The Legend of Zelda series.
Both of these games are highly enjoyable, but Cadence of Hyrule is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch. It features expertly remixed classic Zelda tunes that really make the world come alive. If you enjoy rhythm games, get both of them. But if you’re choosing between one as a Nintendo fan ?— go for Cadence of Hyrule.
Tangledeep is one of the only true roguelikes available on Nintendo Switch. It captures the feel of PC classics like Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup in gorgeous 16-bit graphics. There are a wide variety of jobs and abilities to choose from and Adventure Mode helps reduce the punishing feeling of perma-death for those who usually don’t like roguelikes. It is the best game to start with if you’re unfamiliar with the roguelike genre and are not sure if it is for you.
Tangledeep features pet breeding and companions, farming, cooking, and a job system that lets you combine multiple abilities. A recent DLC released on PC is making its way to Nintendo Switch soon. If you’d like a more detailed description of the game, check out our Tangledeep review.
1. Dead Cells
If you only get one game on this list, make sure it is Dead Cells. The game is hands down one of the best roguelike games on Switch. The recent Rise of the Giant DLC was released for free, adding another area to explore. The developers of the game describe it as a Roguevania, where players explore an inter-connected world with a character that can experience perma-death.
The combat of the game is what really hooks you ?— it’s often described as a 2D Souls-lite. It’s tough but fair and so smooth that you never feel as though a death was cheap. Speedrunners will love the game, as it encourages speedy exploration by locking off certain rooms to slow explorers. There are 90 different weapons and skills with 4 special powers to explore. If you’re the type of roguelike games player who likes to ‘git gud’ then Dead Cells is for you.
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