I admire indie developers and game companies. Even though they do not have the money and resources that AAA companies have, they still continue to push through with a passion to create the best game they can possibly create. Games like Vampire Survivors, FTL: Faster Than Light, and Noita are a testament to that.
The reality though is that indie game devs have limited resources, so to make up for the lack of graphical polish you mostly see with AAA games, they make do with solid, addicting gameplay. This is one of the reasons why the roguelite genre is predominantly indie-related. It doesn’t require a lot of flashy features like cinematics or a deep story as long as you keep people interested with addicting, innovative gameplay.
Of course, there are outliers to this like Hades with its amazing story as an example, but back to the point. Most roguelite games are made either by a solo developer or an indie company, and Steam is mainly where the games they created will be launched because it exposes their game to a very wide audience. Any PC gamer most likely has a Steam Account and buys PC games off of it.
But, even though the numbers are really small, there actually are a few games that are not on the game distribution juggernaut that is Steam, and we have compiled a list of five of the best roguelite games that have this distinction.
Do note that we’re only listing games that are available on current-gen consoles, namely: PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and 5, and Xbox One and Series X/S. We contemplated including games from the SouljaGame, but ultimately ruled it out.
So without further ado, let’s start with the number 5 game on this list…
#5 – Sin Slayers
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, GOG
Sin Slayers is a rather unusual case because the game actually WAS on Steam up until around early 2021 when the game was removed from its marketplace. Whether or not the massive Steam ban wave caused by abuse on Steamworks had something to do with the game’s unexpected demise is uncertain, but what is certain is that Goonswarm and Black Tower, the game’s Developer and Publisher, respectively, moved on and released Sin Slayers on multiple systems, namely the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and GOG for PC owners.
Gameplay-wise, Sin Slayers can be compared to Darkest Dungeon in terms of the turn-based combat as well as exploration mechanics. Your party engages in combat using the tried-and-tested two-row formation where the back row cannot be touched until the frontline dies. Your decisions to whether desecrate a grave or loot dead corpses will determine the difficulty of your run, which I think adds a nice touch that helps shape the player’s run tremendously. You’ll see yourself doing multiple runs trying to find the right balance of looting and fighting.
#4 – void tRrLM(); //Void Terrarium
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5
Void tRrLM();, or better known to people who know how to spell as Void Terrarium, threads the line as to whether it should be considered a roguelike / traditional roguelike or a roguelite. For the most part, it leans more towards the former, but when you consider the fact that taking care of Toriko and the Terrarium using resources that you gather in each run gives you improved stats for your next run, then this permanent progression cements Void Terrarium as an actual roguelite game.
Now that that debate is out of the way, let’s talk about the game. Void Terrarium is part-dungeon crawler, part-Tamagotchi, with one part intertwined with the other. Your main objective is to take care of the aforementioned Toriko who is being maintained by the Terrarium. To do this, you must gather resources by going into dungeons and facing all kinds of creatures, as well as other robots.
Don’t let the combat’s simplicity fool you. Void Terrarium is a very deep and complex game, almost as complex as the game’s original name.
#3 – Cadence of Hyrule
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda, or Cadence of Hyrule (which we’ll use throughout because the former is just way too long) for short, is the most unique out of the bunch. As mentioned in its original title, Cadence of Hyrule is based on Crypt of the NecroDancer, a very successfully released rhythm-based roguelite developed by Brace Yourself Games.
As one would expect, the game plays very similar to Crypt, but the characters, enemies, items, and almost everything else are based on The Legend of Zelda. In fact, the maps and dungeons, which are randomly generated, resemble the SNES hit The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. You traverse the map either horizontally or vertically, one square tile at a time, and kill enemies that are in front of you. The key is to move and attack in rhythm to the beat, or there will be penalties.
As one would expect, Cadence of Hyrule has proven to be a success, garnering generally favorable reviews, as well as selling over 1,500 copies of its physical version within its first week in Japan alone. It also received multiple nominations and a couple of award wins.
Get it here: Nintendo Switch
#2 – Sifu
Platform: Epic Game Store, Playstation 4, Playstation 5
So Sifu is one of the games that are available on PC, but it is not released on Steam, at least not yet. Instead, the game came to the Epic Game Store as a PC exclusive. It also has an exclusivity clause on the console side, only being available for the Sony consoles.
Sifu is actually the second martial arts-related game developed by Sloclap, with Absolver being the first one. The latter’s smooth combat, combined with the “combat deck” mechanic, was the recipe for success the developers hoped it would be, and they continued to go down that path with Sifu, refining the formula that gave them success, and adding roguelite elements to keep players hooked. It worked, and Sifu was an even better commercial success than its predecessor, selling over a million copies as of March 2022.
How the roguelite element is implemented in Sifu is very innovative. Instead of getting new weapons, you instead age at least a year upon dying. Your life bar decreases every time you get older, but your attacks also get stronger with age so dying doesn’t hinder your progress. You’re also able to unlock various passive and active abilities with your XP. We recommend that you unlock permanent skills though because when you do reach 70 years of age AND died, that’s it. All your progress will be gone and you’ll start from the very beginning of your current stage.
This combination of awesome in-your-face combat, innovative roguelite elements, great storytelling, and gorgeous sounds and visuals. It will most likely be up for numerous nominations once the year ends, but for now, Sifu has the distinction of being getting the #2 spot on our list.
Get it here: Epic Game Store, Playstation 4, Playstation 5
#1 – Returnal
Platform: Playstation 5
If a AAA publisher backs up your game and signs you up for an exclusive deal to only appear on their console, you know your game is good. That’s exactly what happened to Returnal, a PS5 exclusive, FPS roguelite developed by Housemarque and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment.
It is apparent how the game got noticed by Sony even at first glance. The game has absolutely breathtaking visuals, and the terrifying atmosphere the game wants to convey to the players is incredibly spot on.
As for the story, Selene is stranded on the planet Atropos and as she walks around, she realizes that the planet is not so friendly with monsters appearing left and right. She also discovers that she’s practically immortal on this planet, as the events that lead to her ship crashing to Atropos keep repeating themselves moments after she dies. This is probably as far as we can tell you without spoiling the game.
I’ve always preferred a mouse and keyboard when playing shooter games, but using the DualSense controller doesn’t feel bad at all when playing Returnal. The difficulty of the enemies you encounter also amp up gradually, so you will have the time to get your feet wet with the game before it decides to kick your behind. Also, I must give the game’s amazing graphics credit again because even if certain enemies and bosses flood the screen with bullets, you’re still able to visually tell what the threats are on screen, and the game’s responsiveness enables you to act accordingly.
What I’m trying to say is that this is, without a doubt, one of the best shooter games I’ve ever played. It has all of the things you’d want in a roguelite game and Housemarque continues to add content in the game. In fact, it just released a FREE expansion a few days ago!
The game, deservingly so, already received numerous nominations and wins in less than a year after its release, and now, it sits on top of our list as the absolute best roguelite game that is not available on Steam!
Get it here: Playstation 5