games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Hybrid Roguelikes – Risk of Rain, Dead Cells, More

August 14, 2018 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Risk of Rain

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week, I’m here to talk about Roguelikes, specifically “Hybrid” Roguelikes. Apparently, there is some stupid split in the gaming base if a game follows the “Berlin Interpretation”, which sounds like some WW2-era Nazi move, about if a game is a roguelike, hybrid roguelike/roguelite. It’s dumb, but here we are. Since there are very few “strict” roguelike games I’ve played, and less I’ve enjoyed, this list is more filled with the hybrid roguelike games. Here we go:

#8: Tower of Guns

A lot of people, both critics and the general public didn’t really like Tower of Guns. While the game certainly has its issues, I enjoyed the relative simplicity of it. The biggest problems with the game is that the enemies are pretty simplistic and the overall look of the game is incredibly spartan. Still, the game does have its fair share of randomness, from the rooms you encounter, the weapons you pick up and the boss encounters. I wouldn’t mind a sequel to this game but that’s not likely to happen.

#7: Hand of Fate

Hand of Fate combines two of my favorite things: board (card) games and Batman combat. I’m being slightly sarcastic with that but in actuality Hand of Fate was a pretty good mix of two very disparate genres and created something that was unique. The cards make up the board that you travel on and can lead to good, bad, or neutral encounters. The bad encounters usually lead to your supplies going down or enemy fights, which is where the Batman-esque combat comes into play. Honestly, in Hand of Fate 1 or 2, this combat system isn’t great but it’s at least serviceable. Still, the randomness of the board and the encounters is a novel idea.

#6: Rogue Legacy

I know when Rogue legacy came out 5 years ago, it took a lot of people by storm. For me, it just did not grab me. I thought the combat mechanics were competent, good art style/music and so on. I think the part I didn’t like was the actual “Legacy” mechanic where when you die you have to pick between three of your kids to continue the mantle of exploration and fighting. This mechanic just felt strange to me. Also, certain attributes to your character could severely unbalance the game, if you know what you were doing.

#5: Risk of Rain

Risk of Rain is like a zoomed out version of another game that is further down on this list. You have four main attacks and can pick up an item to use on occasion. All of your attacks have a cooldown, with different attacks having levels of cooldowns. The environments are pretty different and alien. Also, there are a variety of different classes, each with their own weapons and abilities. Risk of Rain 2 looks like a pretty dramatic departure from this game but I have hope it’ll be just as good.

#4: Crypt of the Necrodancer

Combining a rhythm game with a rogue-like shouldn’t work but damned if it does here. The big reason it works is because the game has a truly excellent soundtrack, one I listen to on my iPod when I go out. Also, the different weapons and items you can collect can really alter the way you deal with enemies and bosses. The game’s art style is relatively simple but very colorful and defined, especially once you get good at getting the beat down and you begin to do more damage. Get Necrodancer on as many different platforms you can, it’s well worth it.

#3: Dead Cells

The newest game on this list, this is the game I was referencing with Risk of Rain. Both games share some of the same DNA but Dead Cells certainly does its own thing. The best thing about Dead Cells is the fluidity of the combat, you can be in the middle of some long combo and dodge out of the way of an attack at any time, just to avoid taking damage. Certain levels have multiple exits, most of which require a certain rune to get to them. To get to one exit, you may need to smash through the floor while another exit might require you to climb the walls. There are still secrets I’ve yet to uncover in Dead Cells and I look forward to playing it some more.

#2: FTL: Faster Than Light

FTL is the Star Trek game I wish CBS could make. There are Star Trek mods for FTL but it’s not the same thing. The goal of the game is to try to outrun the rebel faction and try to get to the Federation base across several sectors of the galaxy. Along the way, you’ll come across ships in distress, traps that the rebel faction is trying to spring on you, and new alien crewmembers you can take on to bolster your own ranks. The biggest thing you have to concern yourself with though is managing your own starship systems, be it weapons, engines, shields, and especially the oxygen subsystem. It’s a novel little game but one I can always play.

#1: Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

I collectively have over about 900 sunk into both Binding of Isaac (350) and Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (550), give or take. I love this game, from the bonkers story (trying to escape your killer fundamentalist mom) to the overall astethic, to the way it “borrows” from Legend of Zelda, to just the sheer amount of random weapons and status effects that can happen upon your character. I pretty much play a round or two of Binding of Isaac: Rebirth every night, just to unwind from the day and because I still love playing it so much.

For comments, list your favorite roguelites, or roguelikes below!

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison