Last week, we highlighted some of the games that didn’t make it in the top 25 but were good enough to be honorable mentions, as well as listed the games that are ranked 25 to 11. Today, we’ll finish the list and tell you which we think are the best roguelite games that came out of 2022.
Again, please keep in mind the following:
- In order to be considered, the game has to be released in 2022, whether as an early access game, a full release, or a console or PC port.
- This list is based on my opinion. If there are games that you think should belong here that aren’t on the list, then, by all means, please let us know in the comment section which game it is and why it should belong on the top 25.
Without further ado, let’s begin with number 10:
10. Tiny Rogues
The gaming industry has recently been moving toward pushing graphical boundaries as well as implementing innovative mechanics, and while those take the industry to the next level, there’s still beauty in simplicity, and Tiny Rogues is a testament to that.
At first glance, you’ll see that the game presents itself as a 90s-ish PC game. I mean, the game literally has an option where the screen can imitate a CRT monitor! The gameplay is simple in the sense that all you need to do is beat all enemies in the room and then choose to enter one of the two doors presented to you, each one offering a different power-up while also having a different set of enemies.
Even if the gameplay is basic, there’s so much fun to be had with the sheer amount of weapons, classes, and unlockables in the game. Boss battles are challenging but fair. Combine all of these and you have a game that will provide you with an insane amount of hours of replayability.
9. Battle Bands
There’s something about Battle Bands that charmed me the first time I laid eyes on it. My guess is that the trailer was really well-made, detailing the game’s core features, but whatever it is, the game became a day 1 buy for me, and let me tell you, it was money well spent!
Everything about the game just lures you in: from the music to the beautiful cast of enemy bands, card art, interesting events, and even the map layout. Speaking of map layout, it deviates a little bit from the Slay the Spire-esque map layout. You still pick a starting point, but instead of a linear path with occasional choices, you can freely roam around wherever you want (until you run out of hearts, that is), true to the “rock band touring” concept.
The devs host tournaments where you even get to battle against them. They also update the game on a regular basis, which just shows how much they care about the game and the community behind it.
Similar to Wally and the FANTASTIC PREDATORS last week, it’s a shame that Battle Bands isn’t as popular as I feel it should be. The game is amazing, much so that it earned its place in the number 9 spot.
8. Shovel Knight Dig
Ever since the first Shovel Knight game came out, Yacht Club Games used this tried and true formula to create multiple iterations of the franchise and they’ve been hitting it out of the park each time. Together with Nitrome, the same formula was used to create Shovel Knight Dig and to the surprise of no one, the game is another success story.
Much similar to the original Shovel Knight, you can use your trusty shovel to whack enemies in the head, jump over enemies and obstacles like it was a pogo stick, and, get this, YOU CAN USE IT TO DIG! Shocking, amirite?
Joking aside, there are some differences from the original game. The main difference is, of course, the roguelite elements. The levels are randomly generated, you get to use your currency to unlock items on your future runs, etc. The visuals also have been upgraded from an 8-bit look to a more 16-bit look.
Also, in “Dig”, your adventure is more of a vertical one instead of the traditional horizontal one you see in most platformers. Think of it as a combination between Shovel Knight, Downwell, and Spelunky.
What you get is a worthy addition to the Shovel Knight Franchise that you will be digging back for more.
Remember what I said earlier about having beauty in simplicity? Another game that exemplifies that is Brotato.
Like Tiny Rogues, everything is presented in a simple manner. The gameplay follows the typical bullet heaven format of minions chasing after you while you shoot (or fight) your way through. The only difference is that you can actually choose to turn your game to a twin-stick shooter instead of having your weapons auto-aim for you. How runs end is also simple: it just shows you your stats, and that’s it. All of these are presented this way so players can focus on what really matters: the easy-to-pick-up gameplay, and I think this decision greatly helped the game.
What I love the most about the game, though, are the characters, items, and weapons. Each of them has strengths but also has drawbacks that players should take into account when trying to come up with a good build. This game balance makes Brotato very special and elevates the bullet heaven subgenre to the next level.
6. Beat Invaders
The beauty of lists like these is while there are titles that you expect to be included, some are surprise entries that will come out of nowhere, and you’ll be wondering why it was ranked as such. One such entry is one of my favorite roguelite games of the year: Beat Invaders.
For those who are unfamiliar, Beat Invaders is a shoot-em-up roguelite comparable to the likes of Galaga and Space Invaders of yesteryear. Its visuals are such eye candy, but even with all the colors flying around, you still have a clear indicator of what’s going on in the field.
The controls are really simple, with your ship only being able to move left and right while only having 2 buttons to worry about: the main fire button, and the powerup button. This makes the game extremely easy to pick up and learn.
As for the roguelite elements, you get new upgrades whenever you level up and these vary based on the ship you’re using. You also get some power-ups when you destroy certain types of enemies like meteorites, elite ships, or even an entire freight carrier! Aside from that, there are permanent upgrades you get to use your upgrade tokens with after each run, and if you’re good enough, your name will even get added to the scoreboard, either Daily, Weekly, or Lifetime.
I’ve played this game so much over the summer to the point where I’ve unlocked all of its permanent upgrades, but that didn’t stop me from continuing to play and enjoy it. From the core gameplay, the roguelite elements, and the satisfaction of seeing my name on the scoreboard, Beat Invaders is such an underrated hidden gem and roguemates have no idea what they’re missing!
We’re starting the top 5 with arguably the most stylish roguelite of 2022. Developed by Sloclap, Sifu is actually not the company’s first foray into the martial-arts fighting genre, but like they always say, Absolver walked so that Sifu could run.
If we’re talking about Sifu, we HAVE to start with the combat because that is the game’s primary selling point, and what a selling point it is! The moves are just so smooth, the controls are amazing, and it really does feel like you know some Kung Fu as you sway, parry, punch and kick your way against all comers until you finally come face to face with your master’s killer.
The roguelite elements like the risk-reward mechanic when you die as well as additional moves you get to learn either temporarily or permanently add a layer of depth to the decisions you will make on your run, whether you should save your strength in the future, or risk it all now.
The game is also notoriously hard, like REALLY hard, but they never said revenge is easy. Once you’ve gotten used to the combat and be one with your controller though, Sifu is bound to be one of the most satisfying games to master.
In case you haven’t noticed yet, the chances of a game getting noticed dramatically increase when you take a genre’s best traits and add something that hasn’t been done before into the core gameplay. It looks like Revita’s solo developer Benjamin “BenStar” Kiefer got the memo because the game looks to be pretty damn unique for a twin-stick shooter.
Using currency to buy items and improve your runs is the norm in gaming nowadays but in Revita, it also treads the line between life and death. That’s right, your health is your currency, creating a game-changing risk-reward concept that is insane by roguelite standards given how overpowered or underpowered you can be.
The game also features hundreds of relics that change the way your runs will go, a “shard” system that raises the difficulty of your runs, and tons of hidden rooms which are unusual in a roguelite game, but a very welcome addition. The only things that prevent it from being the best roguelite of the year are the fact that your basic weapon doesn’t really change, and the lack of boss variety.
Nonetheless, Revita is still an elite-level roguelite that deserves to be in the top 5, and you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.
3. Cult of the Lamb
Coming in at the number 3 spot is the ever-so-charming and incredibly addicting Cult of the Lamb. Developer Massive Monster has created an amazing masterpiece, and you know your game is going to be a hit if Devolver Digital is involved as its publisher!
The game’s combat has you dodging and whacking enemies into oblivion which, while isn’t terrible, isn’t something noteworthy either, but it gets the job done. What makes Cult of the Lamb really stand out from the rest is its Base Management, Farming, and of course, the “convince followers to join your cult” aspect. The more followers you gain, the quicker you progress to your goal of freeing “The One Who Waits”.
I still can’t believe that a lamb so cute could do something dastardly like slay foes and start a cult. But with incredible gameplay, cute graphics, and a surprisingly dark plot, Cult of the Lamb definitely belongs with the upper echelon of all-time roguelite greats, and I, for one, welcome our woodland overlords!
2. Vampire Survivors
Street Fighter 2, DotA, and Doom. These are some of the games that started a golden era in their respective genres: Street Fighter 2 for fighting games, DotA for MOBAs, and Doom for FPS games. Believe it or not, this next entry has proven itself worthy to have its name amongst the trendsetters in the business.
Without a doubt the game that started the bullet heaven boom, Vampire Survivors is not the first bullet heaven ever created and actually started much like any other indie game: with sales below par, that is until Splattercatgaming featured the game in one of his videos, and the rest, they say, is history.
Again, much like any other indie game, VS thrives on simplicity so the focus would be on the gameplay, which will keep you hooked for hours. The concept of “start weak, finish overpowered” is executed to perfection in this game, and the hero and weapon variety brainwash you into playing another run. Once your run is over, what’s waiting for you are a ton of unlockables, from heroes to weapons, to even levels and achievements.
Poncle fully launched the game last October, and its first paid DLC last December, with no signs of slowing down. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Vampire Survivors is, without a doubt, the best $3 game you’ll ever purchase.
1. Rogue Legacy 2
With the overwhelming success of its predecessor, Rogue Legacy 2 had the herculean task of proving that it’s a step up from the original Rogue Legacy. When the game was released late in April, the game not only proved that it was a worthy successor, but it blew expectations out of the water!
You can choose from 15 different classes in the game, all with different initial weapons and spells (that you can replace during your run if the opportunity presents itself) and randomized traits. The game also has different armor sets you can wear, an immense upgrade tree, and runes you can buy and use, all before you actually go into your run. The number of modifiers in the game is astronomical, and that’s not even putting into account the randomly generated traits your selection of characters have, as well as the relics that appear during your runs. Because of this, the possibility of getting identical characters is insanely slim.
While the actual combat is mostly similar, as well as the “Legacy” aspect where once your character dies, your heir fights on, the game also has a lot of deviations from its predecessor. Things like a vastly improved biome design, traits, and of course, the art style. The end product is an amazing combination of the tried and true Rogue Legacy formula and innovative mechanics exclusive to RL2.
I mentioned before in my review back in May that I wouldn’t be surprised if Rogue Legacy 2 receives Game of the Year award nominations and while that didn’t come to fruition, I still stand by the fact that it is definitely the best roguelite game I’ve played that was released this year, and that’s why it deserves to get the top spot as the best roguelite game of 2022.