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Returnal, Hades, and Dead Cells are converting me to roguelikes


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I couldn't get into roguelikes for much of last gen. I tried Spelunky, I tried Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, I tried Rogue Legacy, and for the most part, I had fun, but I never felt like I wanted to do more runs, which is what these games are all about -- a reason to come back.


Dead Cells started this when I played it for the first time a couple years ago. A big part of the reason was some kind of feeling of progression. IIRC, Spelunky was more shortcuts and new characters, but everything else was a blank slate. And some people REALLY dig that. I also understand that sometimes, getting better and simply beating the game is progression on its own, which a normal platformer, for example, that you play front to back once will do. But going through the same levels needed more than procedural levels for it to feel different for me. Dead Cells' progression allowed for some permanent upgrades and better weapons in general with which to start, making the initial levels easier and quicker.


Returnal was a blast due to the silky smooth controls and arcade bullet hell translated onto a 3D space. Because the gameplay was so tight and addictive, getting better really was a great form of progression. But you did have permanent upgrades -- weapon perks (underrated in how much easier it'll make the game), ether, better items that pop up, increased consumable slots, permanent lore progression, shortcuts/ability to skip bosses (and these abilities allow you to get items you couldn't get before that were dangled like a carrot). It also did a great job blending the story and gameplay where the gameplay is in service of the story, you're stuck in this loop in this world, and you learn more and more about Selene's past and why she's there.


Hades does a phenomenal job blending story and gameplay. You're continually trying to get out of Hell and there's a reason you keep looping back. The gods and other characters are well aware that you keep dying since it that concept works in the underworld, and what you find out among the gods fleshes out the relationships the characters have with one another. And increasing your relationships with them gets you better keepsakes, which help you during your escape attempts. You have different currencies that unlock different permanent upgrades, from rooms that heal you, to getting additional upgrades if you beat a type of room, to permanent upgrades for your weapons, to new weapons in general. I've finished seven escapes and have just a few more to go before the story finishes.



When roguelikes are developed like this, they become extremely addictive games that are heavy on gameplay and heavy on replayability. I still have the urge to return to Returnal. And I can see myself revisiting the world of Hades a longer while from now. 

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I actually just bought both Spelunky and Dead Cells because of Returnal. I was of course aware that Returnal isn't some sort of overarching example of rogue design but my love for that game definitely has majorly warmed me up to the overall idea of it. 


I haven't played Dead Cells yet but really enjoyed my time with Spelunky. I ended up deleting it just because it was so difficult that I was never able to unlock the shortcut to World 3 but I still had a lot of fun with what I did enjoy about it, including, surprisingly enough, the structure of it. 

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7 minutes ago, skillzdadirecta said:

Hmmm... I loved Hades and Returnal. Methinks I should give Dead Cells a try as well :thinking:


I think you'd dig it for all the reasons I gave. I was surprised at how much I loved Dead Cells, and it's because I loved it that I wasn't scared of Returnal being a roguelike from Housemarque or trying out Hades.

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I put 350 hours into Dead Cells. I had absolutely no idea I'd be spending that much time playing it when I bought it. It's an awesome game, but can be... errr... time consuming... if you're aiming to fully complete it.


To clarify, I didn't complete it strictly out of some compulsion to 100% the game. I put that much time in to it because it was fun as hell to try. 

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So I am really into the genre but Spelunky and Binding of Isaac don't do it for me. I would recommend these:


Sundered- A Metroidvania where you keep the unlocks and have a skill tree to invest in as well. The bosses are epic, the combat is fluid and it's interesting how they mixed set pieces and the roguelike DNA.


Scourgebringer- kinda like a 2D Bayonetta more hardcore than the other games listed but the combat is toight. 


Crypt of the Necrodancer- Ah, I am so terrible at rhythm games but there is a charm here that can't be denied. I own it on multiple devices, will probably never be able to beat it but I adore it.

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