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Roguelike Games You Need to Play in 2024

A term that dominates the gaming industry is replayability. How many times can a player enjoy playing through a game after their first time? Developers have been searching for ways to keep players returning for decades. A common way of doing this is to introduce faction storylines, like in Fallout or Mercenaries so that the main plot unfurls differently based on the allegiances you forge. Another way is to create a world so vast, like in Skyrim or Red Dead, so the player keeps returning to explore the environment and discover new locations. These fantastic methods are the backbone of many great games, but only a Roguelike game can provide infinite replayability. The genre is named for the revolutionary 1980 title Rogue, which had features such as a randomly generated map, permadeath, and many roleplaying features borrowed from Dungeons and Dragons. The beauty of all this? No two playthroughs were ever the same. Now, with massive advancements in AI technology, the genre is making a comeback. Applying new tools to an old concept has birthed some must-play titles in the past few years, and here are the ones that we at Argentics suggest you check out!

Return to the Underworld in Hades II

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Hades II boasts new and returning characters. Read about the full ensemble on the game’s wiki at Hades II - Hades Wiki (fandom.com)

A sequel to the hit 2020 title, Hades II sees the player returning as Melinoë, Princess of the Underworld and sister to our dear Zagreus, the first game's protagonist. The plot revolves around defeating the Titan of Time, and the gameplay is stellar. This 2.5D dungeon crawler sends you into the Greek underworld, where you will encounter many mythical gods, goddesses, friends, and foes. The combat is intense and tows the line between RPG and Platformer. There are benefits to showing up to a fight prepared with better skills, weapons, and consumables. Still, it can also turn chaotic at times, forcing the player to stay on the run so as not to be cornered by hordes of enemies. This balance gives players all the benefits of a modern title while retaining that nostalgic feeling from our youth.

Another standout feature of this game is its music. Though not something we players tend to notice consciously, the composers behind the Hades II soundtrack did a magnificent job of creating the sort of ambiance needed to keep a player fully immersed in the underworld. From casual, relaxing scores during conversation to wild, rushing pieces during the thrall of combat, this detail adds so much to an outstanding game. Along with the music comes the dialogue, which is deep, detailed, and sometimes flat-out hilarious. Every character has a personality, matched with unique linguistic tendencies that make every encounter feel like a meeting with an old friend.

Early access to Hades II dropped in May of this year. The developers use this period to exterminate bugs in the net code and iron out other wrinkles. A full release is expected to come later this year.

Build your Forest Empire in Against the Storm

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Fight to keep your settlers alive in Against the Storm. For info, updates, and more check out the official wiki at Against the Storm Official Wiki - Against the Storm Official Wiki (hoodedhorse.com).

In the Iliad, Homer wrote about Sisyphus, a man eternally condemned to push a boulder to the top of a mountain and then back up once it rolls down the other side. The task is constant yet seems futile. Millennia later, Algerian philosopher Camus described this action as happy and heroic. Today, we declare that happy and heroic are those who take on the wild concept of the Roguelike city-builder Against the Storm. The juxtaposition of these genres is perhaps the freshest concept on the market today, casting players into unknown forests to build villages and collect resources for the Smoldering City. The catch? Everything outside the city walls is perpetually drowned in the Blightstorm, so these settlements can only exist for short periods before being destroyed when the storm returns. A Sisyphean endeavor indeed.

You play as a viceroy to the Scorched Queen, ruler of the Smoldering City. The city is the only known haven in the world, but to survive, the inhabitants must venture into the outside world and collect resources. Fortunately, random breaks in the Blightstorm allow forward parties to establish settlements in the forest. No meteorologist can explain these breaks. Are they natural, an act of God, or is the storm trying to lure victims into its grasp, only to crush them once they leave the city? All of this is optional to the Scorched Queen. Your job is not to philosophize but to explore, complete tasks, and bring her your spoils.

Combined with the Roguelike element of each settlement being in a randomly generated area, these tasks make for a completely unpredictable experience. Sometimes, the going is good; other times, it feels nearly impossible. Each settlement feels like speedrunning a game of Civilization: you pour your heart and soul into every decision and design, only to have it destroyed. Fortunately, player abilities and upgrades are not swept away with each settlement. This rewarding aspect will make it quicker and easier to establish new settlements, which will be able to gather more resources in the limited time they have before the storm returns (usually around 3 in-game hours). This great mechanic allows players to experiment with new layouts and learn from mistakes in previous settlements.

Against the Storm has been on a slow rollout since 2021, with early access and a handful of iterations. The full and final game was released at the end of 2023 and is enjoying great success on Steam due to its almost undefinable genre. This is one of the most creative concepts to release this decade and a must-play for fans of city-builders! A breath of fresh air into the industry, all gamers should try it and give their verdict on this chaotic yet rewarding genre.

Conquer the Desert in Sandwalkers

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Sandwalker’s hexagonal combat grid adds an extra layer of strategy to your engagements. Learn more about the Goblinz production here: Sandwalkers - Goblinz Studio.

American inventor Robert Fulton Jr. once wrote, “The desert tells a different story every time one ventures on it.” No string of words could better describe the experience provided by Sandwalkers. Thisis a turn-based roleplaying game with a randomly generated environment and encounters. Players oversee a fantasy-world Corps of Discovery– pioneers dispatched by the Mka tribe to venture into the hostile desert and establish diplomatic relations with the Uwando tribes.

You will journey into the desert in a team of four, fighting to reclaim land overrun by marauders and monsters. Combat takes place on a hexagonal grid, which allows for more tactical gameplay than traditional squares while retaining that old-timey, 2.5D combat feel. As you progress, there is always the chance you will bump into other civilized people. How you negotiate these situations will have a significant impact on your experience. Will you forge strong trade relations or murder and pillage to resupply your caravan?

Your ultimate goal is to reach arable soil at the center of the desert and establish the Tree City. Tribal leaders suspect this will end the constant sandstorms and lethal acid rain plaguing the Mka since the beginning of time. This leaves you with a weighty moral question: do the means justify the end? Is it okay to play dirty if it saves civilization, or should you risk failure by trying to help all you encounter?

Announced way back in 2021, the game is finally coming to fruition. After many alphas, betas, and trailers, Sandwalkers is slated to release on June 19th! Buy the ticket, take the ride, and see if you can guide your explorers to the heart of the desert and save your people forever.

Unleash your inner Viking in Sons of Valhalla

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Sons of Valhalla artists blend classic 2D elements with warm, active lighting and accurate reflections to create a beautiful environment. Check out the official website at Sons of Valhalla (sov-game.com).

Set in Viking-age Scandinavia, you will play Thorald Ovalson and work to hunt down and exact revenge on the greedy, vicious Jarl who destroyed your home and family. The universe is two-dimensional, but it is far from a basic platformer. A standout feature of this game is its art; it will floor you on your first playthrough. The color palette is reminiscent of a 60’s spaghetti western, giving your cities and battlefields that old-timey feel. The artists behind this project had a blast with the 2D setting, retaining the low-poly look of old but adding realistic rays, shadows, and shading. The combination of new and old is quite hilarious at times and a testament to the timelessness of the genre.

Outside of the stunning artwork, the raw gameplay is rock-solid, too. It combines tactical field combat, in which you must assemble the right balance of light infantry, archers, and sworders to defeat your enemy, with siege scenarios that feel like an entirely new game. To launch a successful onslaught, you need specialized siege weapons. This is where the other aspect of the game, settlement building, comes in heavy. Siege weapons are expensive, so players must exercise patience and decide when to move forward. This decision-making creates an extra layer for the game and rewards players who build up their forward settlements before marching on.

Sons of Valhalla released in April this year, so there is no need to wait. Give it a shot today!

Other honorable mentions

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Ultros boasts backgrounds that look to be straight out of the acid-rock era. Their website, at ULTROS - Available now on PS5, PS4 and PC (ultrosgame.com) is full of some great surprises too.

With so many releases in 2024, it is only possible to cover some of them. The games above stand out for various reasons, but many other great new Roguelikes are dropping this year. If you feel like taking an electric Kool-Aid psychedelic trip through the cosmos, crank up some Jefferson Airplane and dive into the wonky world of Ultros. Stuck in an endless time loop aboard a hijacked spaceship, you must sneak through kaleidoscopic corridors without waking the demon-beast Ultros imprisoned on board.

If Ultros sounds too trippy, why not check out the endless slasher Death Must Die? In this game, you take on hordes of undead enemies while leveling up your player. Akin to Vampire Slayers, this is a no-nonsense, action-packed game that anyone can get into in just a few minutes.

Rounding out our list is The Lightless World, which is geared towards the evil-minded player. Unlike most stories, this one is told from your perspective as the villain. This twist of tradition makes for a dark experience as you fight as a demon warrior and wreak havoc on the good-for-nothing human race. The game is in early access and is expected to be released fully later this year!

Whether you want to take a somber journey through the desert, a trip (pun intended) to space, or gamble with your settlers’ lives in the Blightstorm, the Roguelike genre has you covered. 2024 has great releases, each with its own art style, setting, and storytelling mechanics. Argentics hopes you will check out some of the titles we picked out above!
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