Friday, June 21, 2024
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Hardest Roguelikes on Steam

Hey there, fellow adventurers! If you’re here, it’s because you love a good challenge and roguelikes are just the ticket to keep your adrenaline pumping. Roguelikes are notorious for their difficulty, permadeath, and procedural generation, ensuring no two runs are the same. 

Today, I’ll take you through some of the hardest roguelikes on Steam that will test your skills, patience, and maybe even your sanity. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a brave beginner, there’s something here for everyone.

Why Roguelikes?

Roguelikes offer a unique blend of strategy, action, and unpredictability. Each run is different, keeping the gameplay fresh and exciting. The difficulty is high, but so is the satisfaction when you finally conquer a tough boss or complete a challenging run. Plus, these games often have deep lore and immersive worlds that keep you coming back for more.

Top 10 Roguelikes on Steam

Let’s dive into some of the most challenging roguelikes on Steam that players love (and sometimes love to hate).

1. Hades

Released: September 2020

Hades, developed by Supergiant Games, has taken the roguelike community by storm. You play as Zagreus, the son of Hades, trying to escape the Underworld. The game combines fast-paced combat with rich storytelling, and every death is a chance to dive deeper into its narrative.

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Why it’s hard: The enemies are relentless, and bosses have complex attack patterns that require quick reflexes and strategic planning. The procedural nature of the levels means you can never predict what’s coming next.

2. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Released: November 2014

This game is a cult classic and for good reason. It’s a top-down dungeon crawler with heavy roguelike elements, including permadeath and procedural generation. You play as Isaac, a boy who must escape from his murderous mother and face a slew of grotesque enemies.

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Why it’s hard: The game’s difficulty lies in its randomness and the sheer variety of items and enemies. Each run can feel wildly different, and some combinations can make the game incredibly tough.

3. Dead Cells

Released: August 2018

Dead Cells is an action-packed roguelike that has you fighting through ever-changing levels filled with deadly enemies. Its “roguevania” style combines the exploration of Metroidvania with the replayability of roguelikes.

Why it’s hard: Combat in Dead Cells is fast and unforgiving. Each enemy has unique attack patterns, and bosses require precise timing and skill. The game’s procedural generation means you can never settle into a predictable routine.

4. Slay the Spire

Released: January 2019

A deck-building roguelike, Slay the Spire has you ascending a tower filled with monstrous creatures. Each decision, from card choice to route, impacts your success.

Why it’s hard: Strategy is key, and every run requires careful planning and adaptation. The randomness of card draws and relics can turn a promising run into a disaster, demanding flexibility and foresight from the player.

5. Risk of Rain 2

Released: August 2020

This third-person shooter roguelike has you surviving on an alien planet. With up to four players in co-op mode, it ramps up the difficulty with more enemies and tougher bosses the longer you play.

Why it’s hard: The game’s scaling difficulty system ensures that the longer you survive, the harder it gets. The chaotic nature of combat and the need for quick decision-making under pressure make it a true test of skill.

6. Enter the Gungeon

Released: April 2016

Enter the Gungeon is a bullet hell roguelike where you explore a gun-themed dungeon filled with enemies, bosses, and tons of loot. The game is known for its tight controls and challenging gameplay.

Why it’s hard: The bullet hell mechanics require precise dodging and shooting. Each floor of the Gungeon introduces new enemies and harder challenges, keeping you on your toes at all times.

7. Darkest Dungeon

Released: January 2016

Darkest Dungeon is a grim, gothic roguelike that puts you in charge of a team of adventurers delving into nightmarish dungeons. The game is renowned for its brutal difficulty and the mental toll it takes on your characters. Stress, disease, and permadeath are constant threats, making every expedition a tense affair.

Why it’s hard: Darkest Dungeon’s difficulty lies in its complex management of character stress and afflictions. Each expedition can leave your characters traumatized or even dead, and managing their mental health is as crucial as managing their physical health. The game’s turn-based combat is unforgiving, requiring careful planning and strategy​.

8. Noita

Released: October 2020

Noita is a unique action roguelike where every pixel is simulated. You play as a wizard exploring dangerous caves, using spells to manipulate the environment. The game’s physics-based mechanics allow for creative destruction, but also mean you can die in unexpected ways.

Why it’s hard: The sheer unpredictability of Noita’s world makes it incredibly challenging. A single misstep can cause a chain reaction leading to your demise. The game’s learning curve is steep, and mastering the various spells and environmental interactions takes time and patience​​.

9. Rogue Legacy 2

Released: August 2022

Rogue Legacy 2 builds on its predecessor with even more challenging gameplay. You play as a line of heroes, each inheriting traits from their predecessors. The goal is to explore a procedurally generated castle, battling enemies and bosses along the way.

Why it’s hard: Each run in Rogue Legacy 2 is influenced by the traits of your character, some of which can be detrimental. The game’s platforming and combat require precise control and quick reflexes. Additionally, the random nature of the castle layout ensures that no two runs are the same, keeping you constantly on your toes.

10. Vampire Survivors

Released: December 2021

Vampire Survivors is a minimalist survival game with roguelike elements. You must fend off waves of enemies while collecting upgrades to survive increasingly difficult levels. Despite its simple graphics, the game is incredibly challenging.

Why it’s hard: The difficulty in Vampire Survivors ramps up quickly, with hordes of enemies swarming you from all sides. Managing your upgrades and positioning is key to surviving each wave. The game’s relentless pace and overwhelming enemy numbers make it a true test of endurance and skill​​.

Upcoming Roguelike: Ocean Keeper

Mark your calendars for June because Ocean Keeper is about to make a splash. This new roguelike promises to bring a fresh wave of difficulty and innovation to the genre.

Premise: You play as a guardian of the ocean, tasked with defending the seas from dark forces. The game features stunning underwater environments, a variety of sea creatures to battle, and an evolving storyline influenced by your choices.

Why we’re excited: Ocean Keeper promises deep customization of abilities and gear, allowing for varied playstyles. The underwater setting adds a new dimension to exploration and combat, making it a unique addition to the roguelike family.

Check their Steam page and add the game to your wishlist!

Tips for Beginners

  1. Learn from Failure: Every death in a roguelike is a learning opportunity. Analyze what went wrong and adapt your strategy.

  2. Patience is Key: These games are tough by design. Take your time to understand enemy patterns and game mechanics.

  3. Experiment: Try different characters, builds, and strategies. The randomness of roguelikes means there’s always a new way to approach a challenge.

  4. Resource Management: Pay attention to your resources and use them wisely. Health, ammo, and special items can be the difference between life and death.


Roguelikes are not for the faint of heart, but they offer a rewarding experience for those who enjoy a challenge. 

Games like Hades, The Binding of Isaac, and Dead Cells have set high standards in the genre, providing both depth and difficulty. With Ocean Keeper on the horizon, the roguelike community has a lot to look forward to. So, grab your controller or keyboard, and dive into the world of roguelikes—where every death is just the beginning of a new adventure.

Stay brave, stay persistent, and most importantly, have fun!

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