You may fret at the idea of roguelike games. Most bring gruesome challenges and the terror of potentially losing your entire playthrough after sulking at the “Game Over” screen. The high stakes may seem daunting, but these games give you a great sense of progression once you figure out their systems and curtail your mistakes. As a result, it’s no surprise that some of the best Android games are roguelikes.
But not all roguelike games are created equally; some are not worth the sweat, blood, and tears after overcoming their brutal difficulty spike. To avoid a travesty and a frustrating experience, we’ve rounded up the top-tier roguelikes for your favorite Android gaming phone; all these titles genuinely emulate the genre’s high-risk, high-reward gameplay loop fitting for any background, knowledge, and experience.
1 Shattered Pixel Dungeon
Once a mod for Pixel Dungeon, another roguelike game, Shattered Pixel Dungeon transformed into a standalone title. You can play as four different heroes, all offering unique classes/subclasses, where you’ll gather items, defeat monsters/bosses, and complete quests. It’s a fantastic game to introduce players to the genre since it emulates classic RPG mechanics mixed with classic roguelike elements: randomized levels, dungeon crawling, and permadeath. So if you’re looking to dip into something more traditional, Shattered Pixel Dungeon is a perfect choice, and it’s free!
2 Pathos: Nethack Codex
Another excellent beginner entry into the roguelike subgenre is Pathos, as it respectfully showcases what a classic tile-based roguelike experience genuinely is. Pathos: Nethack Codex is based on the 1987 game Nethack, where you’ll create a custom class and descend into a dungeon to see how long you can survive — the only difference is you choose from 13 classes instead. Pathos: Nethack Codex will see you looting, checking for traps, and cautiously planning your battle encounters to ensure your survival. The best part is that the game is free without ads.
3 Soul Knight
Now we are getting towards the modern interpretation of roguelike games where real-time mechanics like dodging and shooting are introduced into the mix. A magical stone holds the key to world balance, and it so happens that there are high-tech aliens that can’t keep their grubby, greedy hands off this key, leaving it up to you to retrieve the lost magical stone. In Soul Knight, you’ll fight in randomized dungeons, recruit NPCs to fight by your side, and gain access to over 270 weapons. As you play through the dungeons, the difficulty level spikes, so you’ll get your fill for a challenge as you play (even if this game is a bit more forgiving than other entries). Soul Knight features controller support, and you can also play online multiplayer (up to four players).
4 Cardinal Quest 2
Sometimes to motivate finishing a playthrough, you desire progression and an achievable (well-defined) goal. There’s only so much randomization you can handle while on the go, which is why Cardinal Quest 2 is a perfect adaptation for roguelikes on mobile. You have three acts to work through, and it requires patient grinding to build up your character to become strong enough to slay the final boss. The game’s length is short but offers a lot of replayability, thanks to the game’s seven different classes. Each class feels unique, and you can customize your choice with weapons and loot you’ll find in your playthrough. So if you’re looking to complete a game over shorter bursts, Cardinal Quest 2 is a great choice.
5 Out there: Omega Edition
If you’re a sci-fi enthusiast and want to get your feet wet in roguelike games, the award-winning Out there: Omega Edition fits that bill perfectly. You’re tasked with surviving the brutalities of space with your trusty ship. You’ll have to manage your ship’s hull, fuel, and oxygen levels and gather resources on habitable planets. The game breaks away from tradition by focusing on survival and item management, so don’t expect to face off against aliens/monsters on this sci-fi adventure. Be warned that Out there: Omega Edition has a high skill ceiling upon entry, so it may not be the best starting point for casual players/new players in this subgenre. Also, note that this game requires a premium purchase but is free if you subscribe to Google Play Pass.
6 Slay the Spire
Slay the Spire is a roguelike deckbuilder; it’s a single-player game where you’ll craft a custom deck to climb the top of an unforgiving Spire. You’ll depend on the power within each card to carry you through the dangers that lie in wait as you wander inside the randomly generated areas within the Spire. Graphically, Slay the Spire strays away from the older pixilated-styled roguelike dungeon crawlers and instead relies on a freshly modernized UI and a slick design for all the cards (hundreds of cards are collectible) you’ll use. The game is simple to learn but difficult to master, and it’s also available across multiple platforms.
7 Dead Cells
Dead Cells marvelously crafts a top-tier gameplay loop by mashing up elements found in roguelike and Metroidvania games. You play as a prisoner, a failed alchemic experiment that can possess human corpses. Now it is up to you to explore the ever-changing castle and uncover the mystery behind the island’s (threatening) inhabitants. Dead Cells teaches you to think carefully about your choices, and each death demonstrates the path you should follow to improve on the choices you make. Overall, this game is a masterpiece and always continuously making updates and improvements for mobile; there’s added controller support and the ability to save in the middle of your session (a feature we implore that more single-player games should adopt). If you start playing now, you’ll just be in time to experience the free update on November 29th.
8 Wayward Souls
If you ever wondered what it would be like to play Legend of Zelda on hard mode or a pixilated version of Dark Souls, then Wayward Souls is the closest you’ll probably get. It’s a story-driven, traditional roguelike (includes perma-death but with carried-over progression in subsequent playthroughs) experience involving high stakes. How you decide to play can mean life or death, measuring your proficiency at blocking, evading, and positioning in battle. The combat is exceptional, with commendably tight controls on mobile, taking the action-2D gameplay to the next level. Not only do the controls feel good, but there’s also plenty of replay value since every class plays differently. You’ll have to purchase or play the app through a Google Play Pass subscription.
9 Caves (Roguelike)
Released back in 2015 and still receives updates every year. Caves has all the features from a roguelike that you can think of: randomly generated levels, pixel art graphics, and resources to help gain more control over additional playthroughs (like upgrades). You work your way through digging out dangerous caves (the randomly generated levels) based on items you find and tactics you deploy against the threats you face. What makes Caves a pleasing experience for new players is how you can customize the difficulty level of your playthrough. That way, you can choose to tackle an authentic roguelike experience without depending on a progression system, or you can warm your way up to the high difficulty spike as you get used to the mechanics. Roguelikes are not always beginner-friendly, so having more than one entry point is a huge plus, which is what you’ll get from Caves.
10 Slice & Dice
If you want the ultimate form of RNG, you bring dice to the table. The good news is that the whole point of Slice & Dice is using the virtual die to dictate your entire playthrough. Slice & Dice is a dice-building game that controls how your heroes play. You control five at once, but 100 hero classes are available in the game. The best part is you can now blame your bad luck instead of a lack of skill. Combat is turn-based; dungeons are randomly generated, and if you die, it is game over. Slice & Dice brings you all the classic roguelike features in tabletop style and can be you can try out the demo before purchasing the full version of the game. Remember, the heart is within the dice.
If you’re looking to try out the roguelike experience in a more bite-sized format, then Hoplite is the suggestion for you. Not only will you get a fantastic introduction to the genre with a scaled-down version, but the old-school pixelated graphics and small map size mean that less powerful phones will run this game just fine. Additionally, Hoplite offers strategic turn-based gameplay on a small hexagonal grid; every choice counts, including the upgrades you make. Randomly regenerated maps return, so memorization of the map placement won’t help, which is what we want in a roguelike game. We recommend sticking to the free-to-play version as it is enough to get the whole roguelike experience from the app.
12 Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead
Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead knows how to make players feel a sense of dread for the choices made; in a post-apocalyptic world where giant robots wreak havoc, and zombie monsters are ready to feast on your brain at any given moment, you have to adapt and put your survival skills to the test. Your job isn’t just to fend off these monstrosities; you must find food and water to make it through the day, kicking in your basic survival instincts. Whether you can live another day will ultimately be up to you. Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead doesn’t follow a set formula, and it still receives updates, especially on the experimental version; if you find it too challenging, you can add resources and change how the game plays out. Roguelike elements, with sandboxing tools, sound pretty nifty for constructing your own survival story.
13 Vampire Survivors
The formula behind Vampire Survivors is addictive; you choose a character and powerups and load on a map where waves of enemies keep spawning. It’s a timed challenge that tests your character builds and bullet hell skills. The game’s objective sounds simple, but the overall experience is inherently deep; the weapon evolution system gives you access to many combinations, and each character feels extremely unique, enabling you to create a plethora of builds. No playthrough will feel the same; every failure teaches you something new. Vampire Survivors makes you feel like you’re on a journey, and winning levels always seems plausible; thanks to its minimalist design and deep mechanics, the game can be enjoyed by both veterans and beginners.
14 Pocket Rogues
Pocket Rogues is an action RPG with roguelike elements; you pick a class and descend into randomly generated dungeons with a unique set of loot and monsters. The game focuses on seamless real-time combat, where you can freely move, dodge and attack approaching monsters, but how you plan out your encounters will be a testament to your skills (and chosen class/build). The controls feel satisfying, and dungeon-crawling will fill up hours of your time without being too cumbersome. In addition, the Fortress feature allows meta-progression in the game, where you interact and upgrade with buildings to receive aid in your playthroughs, like increasing your class level and stats. So overall, Pocket Rogues does a great job bringing a more modern-day take to the traditional roguelike experience.
15 Legend of Keepers
Have you ever considered a full-time job as a brutally unforgiving (or even vengeance-seeking) dungeon master? If the answer is yes, Legend of Keepers might be your calling. In this game, you’re basically always sitting on a gold mine, carefully selecting defenders while deploying cunning strategies to prevent any do-good (greedy) heroes from reaping your dungeon’s greatest treasure. You will employ monsters, place tricky traps, and then watch intruders fail miserably at their goals. But that’s not all. Legend of Keepers tests your skills at climbing the corporate ladder and your potential as a CEO behind a dungeon-defending company —which comes with many responsibilities, including how to carefully manage your company’s assets to keep your criminal tactics from plummeting. It’s a game where you get the most enjoyment from playing as the necessary-evil-but-good-at-your-job future company head. And finally, for those who dabble in anime, you can see what it’s like to be in Kinji’s shoes in The Dungeon of a Black Company.
16 Cultist Simulator
Some may argue that Cultist Simulator isn’t a roguelike game in the truest sense. Still, if we peel off a few layers of what traditional roguelike titles include, you will see the similarities. For example, the process of overcoming challenges, learning from your mistakes, and the risk of losing all progress are all there. But other elements like dungeon-crawling, turn-based mechanics, and RNG tile maps are not included. So at the very least, Cultist Simulator can be described as a card-based rogue-lite that integrates roguelikes as part of its core design philosophy.
Cultist Simulator is truly an experience like no other, and if you’re a big fan of Lovecraftian horror, you will appreciate the flavoring. The first line in the Play Store “About this game” section forewarns you that this game doesn’t have a tutorial. A considerable part of the experience is learning how to play, which will take many tries to figure out. The game also features multiple endings, which should come with the territory by now. The only downside to Cultist Simulator is dealing with a busy screen and a cluttered text-heavy UI; pausing and pinching the cards (to read the details) is recommended for smaller screens. Otherwise, you may get more mileage by loading this one on a tablet instead.
Dipping into roguelikes shouldn’t be intimidating
It’s daunting to know where to start with an unfamiliar genre that has a reputation for being unforgiving. And it’s best not to head into these games blind without any expectations. Hopefully, today’s roundup serves as a helpful introductory guide for newcomers and allows veterans to tack on new additions to their library. And remember, if you prefer traditional RPGs to roguelikes, we have a rabbit hole of the best RPGs on Android waiting to be discovered.