Die, die and die again.
There’s only one certain thing when you’re playing a roguelike game: you’re going to die. A lot, probably. And when you do, you’ll go right back to the beginning, with your only option to try all over again. But for some reason, we just can’t get enough of them. And so, we’re taking a look at the best roguelike games on PS4 and PS5.
As frustrating as death may be, it’s also the joy of the roguelike genre. Each time you try, you get a little bit stronger; a little bit more capable to deal with what lies ahead. Maybe it’s just your own skills improving, or maybe you’ll get to level up in some way by unlocking a new permanent upgrade or spend a skill point or two. Not all roguelike games are created equally, and what they allow you to carry over between runs varies from game to game.
Read on to see our picks of the best roguelike games on PS4 and PS5. There’s a good range available, all very different in style and tone. So, if you’re looking for a new roguelike to sink your teeth into, hopefully we can help.
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This article was first published in 2020 and has been periodically updated since.
Without a doubt, this is one of the best roguelike games on PS5. Returnal from Housemarque offers an unforgiving exploration onto an unknown planet, where its roguelike elements form part of the game’s narrative.
You see, protagonist Selene realises she’s stuck in a loop. If she dies, she simply awakens back where she started, at the site of her crashed ship. In order to solve the mystery of the loop, she needs to push through the planet, uncovering its secrets along the way. And hopefully, she’ll find a way to break the loop and maybe, just maybe, get back home. Is it a possibility? You’ll have to play and find out.
A third-person action game that makes excellent use of the PS5’s features, Returnal is a game that quickly gets its hooks in you. Its brutal difficulty may put some players off, but if you can handle a challenge, there’s a lot to love here. From a wealth of otherworldly enemies to defeat to a myriad of weapons and upgrades to find, every run is just as exhilarating as the last. And not to mention the absolutely heart-stopping boss fights. We can’t get enough of it.
Incredibly slick and stylish, not many roguelikes on PS4 and PS5 ooze as much personality as Hades. In it, you play as Zagreus, prince of the Underworld. Except.. he’s not particularly happy being stuck in the underworld. And so, he’s fighting to escape. Cue a never-ending journey through the layers of hell, each one a little more tough to get out of than the last.
Like all the best roguelike games on PS4 and PS5 should, Hades features a strong permanent upgrade system. Keep playing, and you’ll unlock new weapons and ability upgrades for Zagreus. It’s the buffs and items that you find on each run that will made or break you, however. Get the right combination, and you’ll soar through hell with ease. No, we’re kidding. Hades is always tough – but that’s the fun of it. Tied in a neat package with fantastic storytelling, gorgeous art and a killer soundtrack, there’s so much to love here. You don’t want to miss it.
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The clue’s in the name with this one. With a name like Roguebook, you wouldn’t expect anything less than one of the best roguelike games on PS4 and PS5. And you’d be right: this card-based action roguelike is hard to put down when you get stuck into the nitty-gritty of it.
Taking its cues from the likes of Slay the Spire, Roguebook ups the ante by pairing up heroes and adding in a world exploration system. You’ll explore a map by uncovering it using ‘ink’. And as more becomes revealed, you’ll uncover new battles, events and treasure. The battles are the bread and butter of Roguebook, however. They’re turn-based affairs where players use cards to attack their opponents and prepare for the incoming hit. If you die, it’s game over, of course. But as you go, you’ll unlock new cards and abilities to make your journey that bit easier next time.
4. Neon Abyss
A side-scrolling platformer with a lot of heart – and a lot of challenge – Neon Abyss is very difficult to put down once you’ve picked it up. Playing as one of several available heroes, you’re tasked with defeating a number of so-called ‘managers’. But in order to defeat them, you’ll have to make your way through increasingly difficult dungeons, killing a range of weird and wonderful foes on the way.
Rather like a bullet hell game at times, Neon Abyss can get very hectic. You need to be quick on your toes to avoid enemies’ attacks – or just make sure that your attack hits them first. As you play, you’ll level up your weapon, find new guns, and pick up a myriad of modifiers to change your skills and give you perks. Maybe you’ll get bouncy bullets, for instance, or maybe you’ll learn to fly, giving a whole new dimension to your bullet-dodging. It’s the sort of thing that will pull you in again and again; the lure of what pick-ups you might collect is just too strong.
Moonlighter is very much a game of two halves. In the first half, you’re a shopkeeper living in a small village. You run your shop during the day, setting fair prices for your wares, serving customers, and policing your store of any trouble-causers that come in. The profits you make allow you to purchase better gear to help with the second part of the game: a dungeon-crawling adventure.
You see, on the outskirts of the town you live in is a series of mysterious dungeons. It’s somehow fallen to you to explore these, killing the enemies that lay within. There’s one benefit though: while exploring, you’ll find valuable goods that you can sell in your shop the next day. If you die before making it out, however, you’ll lose most of what you’ve found.
It’s not a roguelike in the sense that you’ll completely lose your progress at any point, but you’ll have to start at the beginning of a dungeon each time you go to explore it. It means if you progress to a higher level area of a dungeon – filled with more valuable loot – you’ll lose that progress if you die. You’ll have to constantly balance risk vs reward and, even if you may never completely die altogether, the roguelike elements here make Moonlighter one of the best games in the genre.
Published by Bandai Namco, RAD might be one of the best roguelike games on PS4 and PS5. Set in a post-apocalyptic world inspired by 80s culture, RAD sees you progress through a series of levels, facing off against mutated creatures who are out to get you.
The combat is the crux of RAD. As you play, you’ll find new, better, weapons, and by gaining experience you’ll level up, unlocking a new perk as you do. You’ll need to master the art of successful attack and defence; dodging enemy attacks is just as important as launching your own attacks. Needless to say, RAD is tricky – and one misjudged fight could see you facing the game over screen.
RAD‘s persistent upgrade system comes in the form of a bank. You can bank any currency you earn during a game, and it’ll carry over to your next run. Doing so gives you a good advantage next time around as you can instantly start out with better weapons or health packs, for example. But you need to remember to bank your money – or survive long enough to do so – otherwise it’s gone forever.
Not only is Atomicrops one of the best roguelike games on PS4 and PS5, it’s also one of the most unique. Along with being a roguelike shooter, it’s also a farming simulator. Yeah, we were a bit confused at first too. And then we tried it. And we got addicted.
Set in an apocalyptic future, in Atomicrops you’re cast as a gun-wielding farmer. Your goal is to earn money by planting seeds and harvesting crops – but to be successful at doing so, you also need to protect your cabbage patch from enemies. You’ll also have to explore land around your farm in order to gather new seeds, and that means coming face-to-face with even more enemies.
Atomicrops is unrelenting. Its difficulty is hard from the word ‘go’, and only gets more difficult. You need to get a certain amount of progress before you even unlock any persistent upgrades, but it’s worth persevering with. Seeing your farm flourish and your bank balance rocket as you sell more and more crops is incredibly rewarding. But when it all grinds to an almighty halt because you take one too many hits, it’s devastating.
8. The Binding of Isaac
Since starting life in 2011, Edmund McMillen’s The Binding of Isaac has seen numerous updates and expansions. Not only is it one of the best roguelikes out there, it’s also one that’s been credited as breathing life into the genre – and it stands out thanks to its obscure, grotesque imagery. Expect, blood, guts and poo, and lots of it.
In it, you play as the titular Isaac, a small boy who must make his way through a dangerous, labyrinthine basement filled with monsters. His tears are his projectile weapon, but as you progress through the game, you’ll unlock upgrades to allow you to deal more damage.
At the end of every level, you’ll face off against a fierce boss; as creepy as they are powerful. Should you manage to survive the ordeal, you’ll be rewarded with a perk, and able to progress to the next level. You’ll need to keep your wits about you; always starting out with just three hearts, Isaac isn’t very powerful, so you’ll need to be skilled at dodging and attacking in order to succeed.
Many games have come along to try to replicate The Binding of Isaac‘s style, but few have been as successful. As long as you don’t mind the gross visual style, it has a lot to offer.
9. Rogue Legacy
Ah, Rogue Legacy. Released in 2014, it’s one of the earlier ‘new wave’ roguelike games on PS4 and PS5. And yet, it’s still one of the best. In it, you play a knight tasked with battling through a castle. Overrun with monsters, you plough on through increasingly difficult areas, trying to take down each area’s boss.
One of the great things of Rogue Legacy is its permanent progression system. The money you earn carries over when you die, so you can use it to buy weapons or unlock upgrades that carry over between each character. And each character you play as is a direct descendent of the one that came before it. Essentially you’re wiping out an entire lineage by having them succumb to the same beasts that killed their ancestors. Harsh.
Perhaps the most unique thing about the game, though, is that each character you play as has their own unique quirks. Your knight may have monochromacy, which means your entire run will be in black and white. Or perhaps you’ve got amnesia, which means you can’t remember where you’ve been (and as a result, your in-game minimap is useless). The conditions are numerous, and often combined with one another; it means every time you play Rogue Legacy, it’s slightly different.
Downwell might look like something you used to play on your Game Boy back in the early 90s, but don’t let its basic visuals put you off. In fact, Downwell‘s two-colour visual style is part of its charm; and does an excellent job at reminding us that games don’t need to be cutting-edge in order to be fun to play.
In what is perhaps the most simple roguelike game on PS4 and PS5, your task in Downwell is to simply travel down a well. Your goal is see how far you can go, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Enemies, projectiles and other dangerous obstacles stand in your way, making your journey that much more dangerous. As you fall further down into the depths, you’ll be able to unlock upgrades for that run to help you along the way. But don’t expect anything in the way of permanent progress; there are a few different gameplay quirks you’ll unlock as you play, but nothing to make your journey easier.
Still, seeing how far you can travel down the well never fails to be enjoyable. It’s the perfect type of roguelike in our opinion; easy to play but hard to master. And the type of game you’ll always be eager to jump straight back into.
11. Hand of Fate 2
An interactive board game of sorts, Hand of Fate 2 invites you to go on a journey like no other. Combining collectible card tropes with typical adventuring and Roguelike elements, it’s an absolute joy to play, and a game that very much earns its place on this list of best roguelike games on PS4 and PS5. If it’s flown under your radar so far, now’s the time to give it a go.
Hand of Fate 2 is level based, and each level presents you with a new hand of cards. On those cards, you’ll find various events, which will shape how your game will play out. Some events will be positive – granting you new equipment or riches, for example – but some will be negative; costing you health or affecting your status. Some event cards will also see you step into battle. It’s here the game shines; combat plays out in glorious detail, transporting you to beautiful environments and forcing you to go toe-to-toe with your foes.
As it’s a roguelike, should you die in Hand of Fate 2, it’s back to the start you go. Each time you play, the cards in your hand will determine a different path, so no two games ever feel the same. Only one thing remains constant: your desire to keep playing, and get that bit further each time.