Before anything else, I’d like to thank everyone for all the positive feedback on my very first post about the 5 Roguelite Hidden Gems You (Probably) Missed. I’m glad you guys liked it and were able to use the article to discover some of the awesome roguelite games that were just waiting to get their time to shine.
And since the first one was a banging success, let’s do another one!
Again, the list will NOT be in any particular order so if your favorite game went first, please do not curse me or steal my lunch or whatever.
What are the criteria for a game to be a “Hidden Gem”?
For a game to be considered a “hidden gem”, we are using the following criteria:
- Since we’re not able to see how many copies the game has been sold on steam, we’re going for the next best thing, which is the number of reviews. The game has to have 1,000 reviews or less.
- Since some newer games may have less than 1,000 reviews but would likely break that barrier, we are only including games that are at least 6 months old, so games released after October 6th, 2021 will not be included in this list.
I was going through the list of games to include on this list, and after I went through Rogue Glitch, I just had to include it here. It is a criminally underrated roguelite, especially considering the fact that this game is free, but more on that later.
The game’s aesthetics reminds me of a game I used to love playing on my Nintendo DS, Space Invaders Extreme, with a tiny sprinkle of Pony Island on the side. The visuals are simple and beautiful at the same time, and you can’t help but stare at how gorgeous it is.
The gameplay is nothing to scoff at either. The controls are simple. Your character shoots automatically if you’re in range of an enemy so you only have two buttons to use: the “jump” button, which is self-explanatory, and the “bomb” button where you deal insane damage as well as nullify enemy projectiles in the explosion radius.
The presence of additional abilities like being able to wall jump and double jump adds to the depth of the game’s mechanics and it is used to perfection, as is the fact that the game gets harder the deeper you are after a run. The game even tells you so, not kidding.
Lastly, as mentioned earlier, the full game is free, at least the solo mode of it is, so there’s absolutely no reason for you not to try this game. You will not regret it!
Get it here: Steam
Tower Tactics: Liberation
Truth be told, before I started roguelites.com, I thought of creating a game of my own… a roguelite game, of course. As I was researching what kind of roguelite I want to create, one based on Tower Defense was on top of the list because I’ve never seen one before, plus I feel like it will work wonders if implemented correctly. Approximately a year later, Tower Tactics: Liberation was released, and it was eerily similar to what I had in mind!
The game starts like a typical Tower Defense game where the enemy has a path they will follow, and it’s your mission to stop them from reaching the end, or it’s game over for you.
The roguelite elements come in the form of the towers that you’re going to use in the form of cards. These cards are selected at random from your deck and they can either be a spell or an actual tower, both of which are beneficial in certain scenarios.
After you’ve successfully finished a level, you’ll be taken to the main map which looks very similar to Slay the Spire’s, and has the same events as well like the random events, rest stops, and of course, normal and elite battle points, with the Boss Fight right at the end.
I love how the game plays and it fits the idea I used to have years ago, but if there’s one thing that I have to criticize about Tower Tactics: Liberation, it’s that it currently looks very unpolished. The good news is that it’s still an Early Access title, so there’s still a lot of time to improve on this, and once that’s done, I can see great potential in this game.
Get it here: Steam
Wally and the FANTASTIC PREDATORS
When I read the title “Wally and the FANTASTIC PREDATORS” for the first time, my first impression was that it was going to be a cutesy, kid-friendly game that will serve as a player’s introduction to the roguelite world, but boy was I so incredibly wrong!
Generally speaking, Wally and the FANTASTIC PREDATORS is a top-down bullet hell twin-stick shooter that possibly took inspiration from Enter the Gungeon. It did do a great job of telling itself apart from Gungeon though. For one, while the game is pretty challenging, the vibe is more cartoony and light-hearted.
Some of the mechanics introduced in this game are amazing. Like, for example, I was in a shrubby forest and an enemy threw a fireball at me. Instead of the fireball going through me, it stopped and burnt the first grass tile it collided with and it dissipated. At first, it looked like it was a worthless addition to the game, but moments later, I find myself without any cover because all the grasses have been burnt!
Another example is that even when you clear the area of baddies, the game makes you feel like you did something great by zooming in on you and then focusing on the area’s chest. The contents of said chest are not impressive at times, but it certainly feels like it was. Then there’s the moment when the boss is being introduced, and you can’t help but dread and feel intimidated, a feeling very similar to the Darius games when a huge “WARNING” sign appears on the screen.
Don’t get me wrong, the basics, like the dungeons, the boss fights, etc. are also well done, but you can’t help but appreciate all the small detail that snowballed into an amazing experience. You can tell how much the developer poured his heart into this game because I feel like nothing was halfheartedly done, which is why I’m Wally and the FANTASTIC PREDATORS! is, hands-down, my favorite game among the bunch.
Get it here: Steam
Yamafuda! 2nd station
This next game is, without a doubt, the most unique game among the bunch, and that’s saying something because we have a Tower Defense roguelite on the list!
The main hook of all roguelites is its gameplay loop, and to accomplish that, each run must be tougher than the one before it, making players tenser as the runs go deeper. Apparently, KPC, the developer, and publisher of Yamafuda! 2nd station didn’t get the memo because they created a roguelite out of one of the most relaxing pastimes: Hiking. The game is also a deckbuilder, and never have I ever thought I’d use “deckbuilder” and “hiking” in the same sentence, yet here we are.
Before we get into the meat of the gameplay, it should be obvious from the title that it is originally a Japanese game, but the game has come a long way with its translation. There are still some bad translations here and there, but they’re understandable for the most part.
Now, onto the actual gameplay. So here’s how it works: Your objective is to hike, obviously, through mountains, which are divided into stations. You encounter enemies along the way as you try to clear each station and if you manage to do so, you’ll have an opportunity to make gear, connect with your friend, and rest up for the next station.
Now here comes the “confusing” part, and I put that in quotations because it will be REALLY confusing at first, but once you get used to the game’s mechanics, then it’s actually pretty straightforward. So the “Rest” is the distance between you and the station point, but basically, it is the amount of HP the station has. In order to clear the station, you need to use cards that have “Hike” points which after using, will deduct the number of hike points to the Rest point. Be warned though, the hike itself can be pretty stiff, and the screen shows how steep the next move is. This is equivalent to how much the enemy will deal damage to you, and if your “Care” (basically the armor points you need to nullify the steepness) amount is not enough, your life (or in layman’s terms, well, your life) will take damage, and when that reaches 0, your hike is over and you go back to the beginning.
I know that is a LOT to take in, but the game really just replaced the common gaming terms with hiking terms (and I think they did an excellent job doing so), and trust me, it gets a lot easier once you’re used to those terms.
Speaking of which, you’ll definitely appreciate Yamafuda! 2nd station and how relaxing it is once you’re used to how it works. The gameplay itself becomes less complicated, and the music is so serene that it helps promote a relaxing atmosphere which, again, is very unusual not only for a deckbuilder game, but for a roguelite game at that, but a very welcome one.
Get it here: Steam
Platform: Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
As I was looking for games to include in this list, this game never even cross my mind mainly because I assumed that 30XX, a direct successor to 20XX which was a relatively successful game, will generate more hype in its release. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I saw the game on my Steam page and was shocked by the number of reviews it had. Needless to say, adding this game to the list was a no-brainer.
For those who are not familiar, 30XX is a 2D action platformer and, as mentioned earlier, is the successor to 20XX, a 2D roguelite that also doubles as a love letter to the MegaMan X games of old. You control two main characters: Nina, the main protagonist who uses ranged attacks, and Ace, the “badass” of the team who uses melee attacks and some input moves. Yes, Nina is X while Ace is Zero.
As with 20XX, you can play as either Nina or Ace in solo mode or co-op mode with a friend as you go through levels full of androids and fights a boss at the end. Then if you die, you go back to the beginning and use your resources to purchase powerups that could help you on your next run. You know, typical roguelite stuff.
That being said, there are some features that separate 30XX from its predecessor. One of them is “Mega Mode”, a game mode for the less hardcore. In Mega Mode, you can choose which level you want to tackle, and there are no permadeaths, meaning once you die, you just go back to HQ and be able to select that level again. Speaking of levels, they are fixed, meaning if you die and go back to that level, it will be the same level you died on so you’ll be able to tackle the same obstacles and monsters until you’re able to beat them.
30XX also has a level editor unlike 20XX, increasing the replayability of this game exponentially. With the level editor, you are able to create levels on your own, as well as play levels the rest of the world had created. Knowing how popular Super Mario Maker is, I’m certain people are able to make amazing levels, from the ones that are a walk in the park to absurdly difficult ones that will leave you throwing your controller to a wall. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some phallic levels here and there, but let’s not talk about that.
The general feeling is that 30XX improves on everything 20XX did and more, so I’m very surprised that the former didn’t generate the same success as the latter. If you love either or both 20XX and the MegaMan games and the like, this is definitely a must-have.
Get it here: Steam
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