Few games get to define their own genre, but Rogue changed the direction of games forever. Its influence continues to drive many of the most important innovations in gaming, even today. Dozens of talented designers have left their mark on the genre since then, but the cornerstones of Rogue are still present. Every run is different from the last, forcing players to adapt on the fly to a non-stop stream of compelling choices–around everything from how they manage resources, to how they upgrade their character, to what direction they choose to go in a dungeon.

For the Dread Nautical experience, we felt that the tactical RPG genre naturally fit with the mechanics that define the Rogue-like and Rogue-lite genres. Here are our top 4 reasons for why tactical RPGs are perfect for Rogue mechanics:

  1. A well-designed encounter naturally has multiple solutions to explore. As a team, we found that we often replayed our favorite tactical RPGs because any single battle could be conquered in several ways and that exploring this variety was part of the fun. In a traditional RPG, this typically meant restarting the game with a fresh save, but with a Rogue-lite approach, replayability could be seamlessly built into the gameplay loop.
  1. Just as encounters have multiple solutions, part of the allure of tactical RPGs is the amount of player choice that goes into building and outfitting your party. From the gear you equip to the skills you select, no two players will take the exact same path. Again, the exciting part of this potential usually requires starting over, but when death is a mechanic, players can more freely explore the full scope of the game.
  1. An interesting level is also worthy of several replays. Even though environments are often procedurally generated in this genre, the building blocks of this process lead to thematic consistency and scenarios that will represent themselves in repeat runs. For the player, this means the opportunity to refine strategy and to try new things the next time they encounter the same (or similar) obstacle.
  1. Intense difficulty feels more accessible. Balancing difficulty in game design is always a challenge because players are diverse and “fairness” is dramatically subjective. Rogue-lites can more elegantly solve this problem because more experienced players can take runs farther sooner by virtue of their skill, while less experienced players can level-up each run to overcome the encounters that ended a run previously. In other words, failure isn’t really failure, and that can reduce a great deal of frustration.

What are some of your favorite Rogue-lite RPGs? What made them memorable for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Dread Nautical will be available on Steam on October 27th 2020, wishlist now!