Countdowns · Ranking the Rogue · Roguelikes

GotY 2017! Best Rogue!

As you may, or may not know, I have been compiling a very serious, scientific, and all-encompassing, genre-defining ranking of roguelikes (and roguelites and roguemites and roguetights and strobelights). As one with which such work was wrought, you’d think I’d have an idea of the greatest rouge of 2017. WHALE!

here you go


please remember this is absolutely objective if you disagree you’re wrong


  1. Dead Cells
  2. Monolith
  3. Heat Signature
  4. Cogmind
  5. Unexplored

These are my five favorite rogues of 2017. I had an absolute blast with these games.


Unexplored was a phenomenal game, coming in at number five of my list of truth. I remember seeing a stream, done by Waypoint’s Austin Walker, and knew immediately I would love it. The game has an intuitive interface (which many games that attempt this style fail at). It also succeeds at being a legitimate roguelike, in my opinion, without being turn-based. These two elements alone would make the game something to look at seriously, but the game also generates its world more intelligently than most procedurally generated video games, implementing little stories that carry from floor to floor of the random dungeon. Everything fits together so nicely, but on the rare occasion that the level generation leaves players without anywhere to go, there are nice tools implemented to get the player of the that impossible situation. Since release, the game has seen numerous updates in the form of content as well as mechanics, and I look forward to the day that I finally jump back in.


I have hardly scratched the surface with all of these games. They were all just too damn deep, and good, so it was hard to focus on one of them over the others. This is truest most with the title Cogmind, which I feel is this year’s best old school legitimate roguelike. Every single detail of this game was thought over diligently, and it really shows. From the cyber-punk style, to the deep, deep mechanics (that I will never really learn), the game fits together in a way made possible by constant back and forth communication with the community (of which I only really learned of just prior the game’s release). You play as robot made of other robot parts found in the dungeons and from dead robots. The strategies seem endless, all fitting vastly different playstyles. It’s another game on this list that features deep, rewarding mechanics, in an easy to understand and navigate interface. I poured hours into this thing and then unfortunately had to move on, but like Unexplored, and possibly every other game on this list, I can’t wait to jump back in. Eventually


Heat Signature is a fantastic experience. I have trouble placing it in the rouge category, but categories are all facades anyway. They just prove how woefully inadequate we all are when it comes to explaining anything. The language is there. We’re all just stupid now, so we have to explain things using phrases like “it’s like” or “this game is a FPS.” Why can’t we just explain the game with more detail? Short attention spans? Failing grasp on language?

I don’t give a fuck.

Heat Signature is a great roguelite that came out from the creator of Gunpoint. Some of it seems like it was built as an experimentation, or proof of concept, yet it’s baked in a well realized world that one could really deep dive in if they wanted to. Basically, you start off with your choice between space pirates, and you’re job is to fly a ship into another ship, attach yourself to said ship, infiltrate said ship, and commitment several flavors of space crime depending on the mission. Sometimes you’re stealing valuable technology. Sometimes you’re rescuing someone. Other times you’re just killing someone. The combat is served in a compelling way that is like Hotline Miami in the sense that it’s isometric and one shot kills you or your enemies. So you have to think and react on your toes. What helps is the nice pause feature, which reminded me of FTL. At any point, you can pause the game to perform a variety of tasks. You can aim a shot, you can equip a weapon, you can even teleport if you have the right equipment. With this system you get to experience a lot of opportunities for emergent gameplay that really drive what makes this game fun. It’s a goofy, chaotic mess that you always feel you have a handle on.

Also, it’s like Dark Souls.

monolith steam screenshot

In many ways Monolith feels like a classic roguelite. You’ve got randomly generated levels with randomly generated upgrades to your weapon and character throughout each level, and you can unlock more of those as you play, die, and succeed. What makes Monolith special is the aesthetic, and the gameplay. The game plays like a very competent isometric 360 twin-stick bullet-hell shooter with a nice, quick dodge mechanic that lets you dart in and out of harm’s way. The action feels quick in a way I really appreciate, making runs feel less like a chore. The music and graphics are retro in a way that somewhat apes classic NES or SNES titles, however the art design really appeals to me. Something about it seems very horror themed, but not in an overly dark or gorey sense. Almost like Castlevania, except instead of classic monster movies as the influence, you a very slight Lovecraft influence. I also accidently made videos on this game, so yeah: I like it a lot. Deal.

dead cells

And finally, my favorite rogue of the year award goes to DEAD CELLS. This thing is amazing. Still in early access, and may stay in early access for longer than was initially promised, Dead Cells released in a state that felt close to completion in a way that made it highly enjoyable. It’s a randomly generated metroidvania that does metroidvania way better than most metroidvanias. It has a system some would say is like Dark Souls if they forgot what they had for breakfast the day previous. Those people might also find themselves in the middle of the ocean. Look it up.

You find weapons. You find statistical bonuses. You unlock more weapons and heath and equipments as you play, die, and succeed. There are neat bosses, and enemies feel unique in the way they approach combat, thus making you approach combat in dramatically different ways. It’s quick. It’s fluid. The controls feel perfect in a way that makes the game feel technical and difficult when it really isn’t compared to a lot of other games. It’s a highly satisfying experience, and I love what they’ve changed so far. I remembered hearing about this game days before it came out, and I immediately knew I had to play it. I think it’s required playing for the year 2017.

But that’s just in my opinion.





You probably think I’m finished. WHALE!


Gotcha fooled you I’m not done let’s go!

As always this list in all-encompassing, objective, made with one hundred percent truth, and there’s no reason to argue with it. It’s fucking etched in stone.

Also I’m going to change the order of this list whenever I want to. Okay? Cool.

trash can RANK THE ROGUE

  1. Binding of Isaac
  2. Nuclear Throne
  3. Dead Cells
  4. Cogmind
  5. Monolith (Previously reviewed and ranked)
  6. Enter the Gungeon
  7. Heat Signature
  8. Unexplored
  9. Flinthook
  10. Brut@l
  11. Pixel Dungeon
  12. Eldritch
  13. Wasted

dead cells2.jpg

Yeah, sure, when I ranked them on the rogue, they fell differently than my favorite rogues of the year. Specifically, I feel that Cogmind does a lot for the roguelike genre, and I feel it deserves a spot just under my personal favorite rogues of all time.

And that’s a group Dead Cells definitely belongs in. It’s just so fun to play, so satisfying and rewarding. Of these games, which I feel are in the most addicting genre for me as an intelligent, always correct adult, Dead Cells had me coming back most often. It’s a damn riot I tell you. huhuhu


original thought do not steal



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