I love playing Roguelikes. I love playing Roguelites. There is a difference between the two but a lot of times people debate and it just leads to nothing. Sometimes games are labelled as “roguelikes” but they’re actually “rogue-lites”. Sometimes people label games as “rogue-lites” based on one factor and one alone… and that’s kind of wrong, in my opinion. In the end, it doesn’t make a difference, really. As long as you enjoy them, it doesn’t matter what other people call them, right?
Well,… it would be boring if I were to just leave it at that, as I personally think that there is a difference between rogue-lites and roguelikes.
Faster Than Light would be a roguelike for me. Pawnbarian? Roguelike! The Binding of Isaac? Roguelite! Hades? Roguelite!
Now, the original game (can be found all over the internet but also on steam) that defined the genre of “Rogue-likes” was, as the name suggests, the 1980 game “Rogue”! It was an ASCII based game that featured turn-based combat, procedural generation and permadeath. While it was hard and challenging, it was also rather strategic and allowed you to step back, think about your next move, and then go on. All games that are like “Rogue” are rogue-likes, duh. Games that are like Roguelikes but aren’t exactly Roguelikes would be Roguelike-likes or Roguelites! Games that aren’t grid-based or that aren’t turn-based, for instance, would fall into that category. There are some people in the gaming community that define roguelikes and rogue-lites just by the amount of permanent character progression in the game, which I personally feel is wrong. I think that that’s a feature that shouldn’t define a genre. Whether or not a game features permanent character progression doesn’t matter for me when I tag a game as a rogue-lite or a roguelike in one of my reviews.
So, Pawnbarian, for instance, features grid-based, turn-based combat that allows you to be rather strategic about the way you play. Slay The Spire may not be grid-based but it still is a rogue-like for me since the combat feels rather strategic to me. Meanwhile, Hades is more of a rogue-lite in my opinion as it adds a lot more to the original rogue-formula than just action and character progression. It adds dialogues, a story, permanent resources, cosmetics, and even fishing into the game. It’s a rogue-lite in my opinion.
Technically speaking my favourite Pokémon games are roguelikes: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is a great series that features dungeon-crawling with turn-and-grid-based combat as well as resource-management. I’m not sure if other people would agree with me here, but in my opinion, that’s quite a lot like Rogue… or quite rogue-like!
But hey, opinions change and I’d love to hear more about your opinions on the matter so that I could educate myself. As far as I know, there is also the Berlin Interpretation that defines eight high-value factors and six low-value factors. Among the high-value factors, there’s procedural or random dungeon generation, permadeath, turn-based gameplay, non-modal gameplay, a degree of complexity, resource management for survival, hack and slash -ish based gameplay, and exploration. Having more of these features or fewer of them doesn’t exclude or include a game. It just makes a game “more roguelike” or “less roguelike”.
While I agree with a lot of these features, I’m not entirely sure what to do with the Berlin Interpretation. I guess, you could grade games in those aspects and then compare them to other games to decide whether or not the game is a roguelike or not… but generally speaking, I doubt that I’d ever use that interpretation/definition.
Instead, I tend to go with the strategy aspect vs. other approach definition. Most of the time, I go with how I feel about a game and I’m sure I misclassified some of my reviews… but generally speaking, I don’t think that Diablo or Minecraft are roguelikes and I do think that Isaac is a rogue-lite. My blog, my rules!
Hope you enjoyed this post! I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for ages now and am glad, I got to make it. Going more in-def with some of this stuff would have been boring, so I tried to keep it light… or should I say… lite? :^)
Do you care about that stuff? If so, what definition do you use? What’s important for you? Let me know!