Giant skeletal rat bat ghoul lichmummy made real

The Slimy Lichmummy

Author Ulf Åström
Platform Windows (binaries); Mac, Solaris, Linux, BSD (compile from sources)
Version 0.40

The Slimy Lichmummy is among the most originally named roguelike games. Game website proclaims it has been so because someone asked the author: “make a giant slimy skeletal rat bat ghoul lichmummy with a severed hand and floating skull”. And so he did. The game delivers on all of the mentioned aspects: from humble ratmen to elder lichmummies.

Continue reading “Giant skeletal rat bat ghoul lichmummy made real”

Lone Spelunker by Barking Dog Interactive

Are you sick of hacking thru endless dungeons looking for ancient artifacts to save the world? take a look at Barking Dog Interactive’s in-dev game: Lone Spelunker.

A great adventure awaits for you
A great adventure awaits for you

In Lone Spelunker, you explore dark caverns in a turn-based, puzzle fashion, hoping not to die by falling from a cliff into a horrible dead. And you do all this just for a reason, to take cool selfies of yourself, deep under the ground.

The entrance to a cave, right into an underground puddle
The entrance to a cave, right into an underground puddle

In these caverns, you’ll find no goblins to smash, no magic loot nor evil balrons… it’s only yourself and your curiosity, hoping to discover as much as possible of the cave, while using your tools at hand carefully and patiently.

This shaft was about 230 mt deep. That a long rope!
This shaft was about 230 mt deep. That a long rope!

The movement commands may seem overwhelming at first, but they are rather easy to get accustomed to after a while; you’ll be mostly moving around, jumping and griping into walls, hammering pitons into the walls and shooting ropes from them, ziplining and rapeling  to move quickly between the vast, beautifully rendered underground locations and lakes.

For your first sessions, I think it’s a good idea to keep the instructions on a separate screen all the time, so you can refer to them when needed.

To prevent getting lost in the caverns, you can use the map (though some players may consider it cheating) or a gyrotheodolite / baromether to find your latitude and depth.
To prevent getting lost in the caverns, you can use the map (though some players may consider it cheating) or a gyro-theodolite / barometer to find your latitude and depth.

This game is beautiful, it’s completely rendered on colored ASCII, and you will find it lacks a “look” command because most of the things in the screen are just aesthetic. With the exception of the solid rock, mud, water, your ropes and the hammer-able walls, the rest is just beautiful and colorful underworld.

Careful! any misstep could lead to horrible death!
Careful! any misstep could lead to horrible death!

You can play the game on any computer since it’s web accessible, just create an account and start playing. Have in mind however, that the game is currently in open beta, so some things may not work perfectly.

There's a website where you can share your selfies and discuss the caverns with other players
There’s a website where you can share your selfies and discuss the caverns with other players

The games comes with a set of both randomly generated and fixed cavern complexes; for the fixed caverns you will find they have a list of challenges you may want to complete. They consist basically on finding something special and shooting yourself a selfie with it. The randomly generated caverns, on the other hand, allow yourself to take selfies just for fun, in the cool locations you’ll find underground.

You'll have to plan your moves carefully to get into some locations
You’ll have to plan your moves carefully to get into some locations

As the game is still on beta, you’ll find some small details (for example, I was unable to change facing since Alt + Left caused my Chrome browser to go back, thus deleting my adventure :/). These are however small details since otherwise the game is very enjoyable right now.

The caverns seem to be based on real world locations, you will also learn a bit about spelunking, with the game taking you to wikipedia from time to time for reference.
The caverns seem to be based on real world locations, you will also learn a bit about spelunking, with the game taking you to wikipedia from time to time for reference.

I felt the game could have better lighting effects for both aesthetics and gameplay, I guess the developers choose to leave it this way for practical reasons. Also, providing ambient sound and sound effects (with lots of echo?) would add a lot to the atmosphere.

Now here comes the mandatory question: would you consider this game a roguelike? certainly there’s no hack and slash here, but its turn based (almost completely, with some things like oxygen drop happening in real time), grid based, single character with permanent failure and procedural environments. There is no conflict/combat nor inventory (and thus no resource management), and there’s little in the way of random action outcomes (although sometimes you could save yourself from death by doing a “miracle grip”). But most of the factors are here, plus it’s got ASCII display 🙂

Play Lone Spelunker now for a different cavern crawling experience!

Reviewed by Slash, priest of Temple of The Roguelike

A new Roguelike interpretation

by Slash, priest of the Temple of the Roguelike

“What is a roguelike?” is a long standing question with no single answer; there are many perspectives you could apply to understand what “roguelike” refers to, starting from strictly historical ascendance, passing through aesthetics or even focusing on a single feature such as procedural content or permanent death.

For a long time, I have refrained from providing a single definition, and went instead for a way to evaluate the “roguelikeness” of a game. This I did to encourage experimentation outside the bounds of the classics, but the world has changed.

Over the years there has been a resurgence of the term “roguelike”, where it has been applied to games that differ so much from the originals that the term is losing its meaning every time. Rogue-Legacy-Full-Game-2 Having that in mind, I have decided to share my own interpretation of what I call a Classic Roguelike, with the sole intention of preserving the original nature and identity of the genre; this doesn’t mean roguetemple is only intended to cover the development of classic roguelikes; we are equally interested in games that utilize some of the mechanics from roguelikes and complement them with other genres.

The most important perspective for me when considering if a game is a roguelike are its game design features. Note however that my interpretation is not limited to the features of the original “Rogue”, nor am I listing all of its features to be required; this list is derived from my experience over the years on what makes a roguelike, i.e. which features from the good old roguelikes are critical to conserve the spirit of the genre.

So, for a game to be considered a Classic Roguelike by this interpretation, it should comply with ALL of the following features:

  • Turn based: The player interacts in turns; for every turn the player gets to decide what action to take. After he decides the game simulates the turns for the rest of the entities in the game world and them prompts the player back for action. The player can pass its turn but it’s done manually as an explicit action.
  • Grid based: (Which could be implied from being “Turn based”) There is an underlying orthogonal or hexagonal grid where the entities of the world are placed. Movement occurs from one cell to another close cell.
  • Permanent Failure: Encouraging the player to take responsibility for the risks he takes. Games can be persisted to support interrupted play sessions but players cannot reload a game for the sake of experimenting or to “retry” a fight or seek a better outcome on a random event.
  • Procedural environments: Most of the game world is generated by the game for every new gameplay session. This is meant to encourage replayability and complements permanent failure.
  • Random conflict outcomes: The main conflict action between entities in the game (commonly, attacking an enemy or casting a spell) has a random outcome. For example, for most of times you can’t know for certain in advance how many hitpoints your attack will reduce from the enemy (Although the player has a reference range and variability that should allow him to make tactical choices).
  • Inventory: There are items the player can pick up and use and inventory space is limited, the player should decide strategically what items are best to keep to survive and win the game.
  • Single Character: The player is represented by a single character inside the game world.

Use this interpretation at your own risk. Some games could be considered roguelikes and don’t have all these features. You might also want to check other roguelike definitions attempts:

What a beautiful day. Let’s kill some ugly monsters!


Author Piotr Bednaruk
Platform Windows, Linux
Version 8.3 (newest available is 8.4)

City at nightBold adventurer, is it fame you are after? Do you want treasure, fight fierce beasts or just to explore the land? This roguelike game, Fame, does not provide any answers for these questions. An adventurer you are and thats it. A manual bundled with the game also remains quiet about your reasons to wander around the world and whack monsters risking your life many times in the process. I found this lack of introduction incongruent with Fame’s otherwise well done plot. Anyway, who really needs a reason to hunt monsters?

Continue reading “What a beautiful day. Let’s kill some ugly monsters!”

Passive-aggressive plants on the prowl

Author Jabb
Platform Linux, Windows (must compile)
Version 15th December 2011

BileBio is a tiny arcade game with roguelike feel. It started as a 1DRL and had some development later. Every game stage has but one aim which is the same every time: reach the stairs alive. The problem is caused by massive plants growing at astonishing speeds. If something would happen to grow on you – it means death, although BileBio does not explain exactly how you die.

Plants in BileBio are combined of roots, flowers and vines. Each part can spawn more of its kind. Roots are indestructible and can spawn new root in any place at the board. They can also burst producing four flowers around it and lots of vines. Flowers grow new plant parts in chess knight pattern while vines grow into adjacent squares. The last two forms can only grow up two times before decaying and withering. Roots sometimes also wither but it is uncommon event. An active plant segment is highlited in red (beware!); decaying segments are displayed in brown.

An elusive thing hinted at in readme is the nectar. Presumably it is worth many energy points and score but I have to encounter one yet. Having reached up to level 31 with 51440 points of score none were generated. None in all games I played. It might be exceedingly rare or not placed due to some bug. Whatever the reason I never found any nectar.

The game presents player with nine abilities to learn at varying costs. These are organized into three branches in which to acquire the higher ability one must have earlier one as a prerequisite. At any time up to three different skills can be learned. Some abilities center around wall usage. Hiding inside one is possible and grants safety for a time. Jumping over a single wall is very helpful in mazes and also cheap. Dash can be quite boon before the growth becomes dense or in short windows of opportunity right after some parts decay. Attacking a plant can be guarantee of survival in some cases but in other jumping over it may be preferable. Finally one can spawn a wall to hide in. The remaining skills have almost prohibitive cost of attaining them. You need to expend sixty points of energy before you can use any and still need more to benefit or fuel previously learned tricks. These are: extra lives (50 energy each), repellent lasting ten turns (costs 10 energy) and energy tripling from nectar (free, but find any nectar first!).

Obstacle and stair arrangement is chosen from a set of twelve handmade maps. Some have multiple exits and plenty of walls to use wall hop or wall walk. Others are mostly empty relying on growing plant life to create variety. Over longer playthrough lack of procedurally generated levels or at least more prepared maps is weak side of BileBio.

There are two factors that factor into difficulty. How many roots are spawned when the stage begins and how fast the plants of given stage get active. At early stages the plant life may die out if helped a bit but with progressing stages the green infestation gets to expand faster and faster.

A specific weak point of the game is unreliable numeric keypad handling. Orthogonal directions are read fine but diagonals are not recognized on every computer. Vi keys are provided as an alternative. That and requirement to compile the game from sources relegates BileBio into obscurity.

To sum up BileBio is a fun thing to try but it is not going to hold your attention for long.

Results for Ascii Dreams Roguelike of the Year 2012

The full list sorted by name is available at the Ascii Dreams. This year there was fierce mobilization among ToME and ADOM players. Ultimately the former won despite ADOM taking lead for a time.

Here is list of all games that broke hundred votes. This number was chosen with premeditation. Like last year the most voted games include some of questionable roguelikeness.

1659 votes   –   Tales of Maj’Eyal

1445 votes   –   ADOM

730 votes   –   ADOM II

687 votes   –   Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup

605 votes   –   Dwarf Fortress

454 votes   –   FTL

442 votes   –   UnReal World

393 votes   –   DoomRL: Doom, the Roguelike

349 votes   –   Brogue

280 votes   –   Dungeons of Dredmor

180 votes   –   Sword of the Stars: The Pit

175 votes   –   Torchlight 2

173 votes   –   Cataclysm

150 votes   –   The Binding of Isaac

138 votes   –   Caves of Qud

135 votes   –   X@COM

133 votes   –   TomeNET

130 votes   –   Sil