Author Topic: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes  (Read 24110 times)

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Offline Nefaro

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Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« on: September 29, 2012, 11:20:28 PM »
I just hit a big yearning streak of old school style dungeon crawling RPGs.   That would, of course, include some roguelikes too.

I'm currently bending my noggin around how to play Demise: Ascension which is a new version (part 2) of an old 90s crawler which reportedly has a massive dungeon to explore - and even a dedicated server for continual multiplayer dungeon delving.  I had never tried it in the past but recall seeing a demo/shareware version of it long ago.   

It's part of Gamersgate's IndieFort bundles, so I also grabbed Devil Whiskey along with it.  Devil Whiskey is a Bard's Tale style RPG and I was fiddling with that one for a bit, having fun, until it kept crashing so often that I got fed up and started playing the old Bards Tales in DOSbox.   8)

Anyway.. after wrestling with Devil Whiskey's crashes, and getting some Bards Tale II & Dragon Wars playtime in, I noticed the beta Demise a bit more as having that old first-person dungeon crawler (Partier) setting and it's dedicated server play.  Unfortunately it's stuck at a lowly fixed 800x600  >:( but supposedly being such a huge dungeon crawl, and the 3D window only being for visual cues, I paid the whopping $3.99 to get that and two other indies in the GG deal.  I'm a bit impressed with some of the mechanics since it has character aging along with possibly permanent death penalties so it's got a little roguelike feel to it, albeit one supporting party-based play.  Demise's multi-classing craziness and hundreds of character levels to attain, along with all the investigation of discovered items, and the massive dungeon itself, makes my inner Indiana Jones.. jones.

Besides Demise, Devil Whiskey, and the old Bards Tale DOS games, I've checked out some other free roguelikes that have been on the increase: 

(Note that these have graphical tile sets and do not force the archaic ASCII symbols on you - aka the ones that burn a hole through your retinas and have you reading moving symbols like a Matrix operator!  No, these are (somewhat..relatively) user-friendly.)

Steam Marines   -  This one looks like it's still in alpha, but fairly playable.  Think Space Hulk.  Barely played yet.
http://www.steammarines.com/

GearHead -  Mechs.  Like a mechwarrior type of RPG with fights both in and out of your customizable mechs.  Haven't tried yet.
http://www.gearheadrpg.com/

Powder  - A fairly basic & straightforward roguelike that was made with hand-held OSes in mind.  Pretty fun, but I kept dying very quickly so far. Tough!
http://www.zincland.com/powder/index.php?pagename=about

Kamyran's Eye 2 - another of the more basic kinds.  Evidentally this was on sale in the past but is being given as freeware right now.  Not tried it yet.
http://keye2.phk.at/%28page_13%29/index.html

Prospector - Take command of a starship (& crew) while exploring unknown star systems (and their planets!).  I mentioned this in the FTL thread, too.   8)
http://code.google.com/p/rlprospector/

Elona - Despite the accursed Manga faces and the occasionally chauvinistic T&A references, I'm seeing a lotof dungeon delving/looting to be had here.  Some extra features (like crafting and customizing your pets with body parts (!?)) that many roguelikes don't have.  I've not played it much yet but it looks to be a keeper thus far.
http://homepage3.nifty.com/rfish/index_e.html

Mage Guild - This one is quite focused on magic-users and also has some interesting item/reagent combination effects to be discovered.  Not played much yet.
http://www.lukossoftware.com/



And now some of the most popular, and long-lived, free roguelikes (yes, they use graphical tilesets!):

IVANX - I've not tried all the IVAN variants but this one looked to have the most feature options.  I hear it's one of the more difficult ones.
http://ivanx.sourceforge.net/

TOME (Tales of Maj'Eyal) - TE4 is one of (if not THE) best freebies out there.   It even has some internet server support, chat, stat tracking, etc.  Love it.
http://te4.org/

Angband - An oldie that's still being updated with more fun.  Predecessor of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup IIRC.
http://angband.oook.cz/

Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup - Another of the greats, it has a lot of unique content mixed in with all the usual roguelike randomness.
http://crawl.develz.org/wordpress/

Nethack - Vulture  -  Nethack is an oldie, and the interface is painful even on the 'Vulture' version.  I recommend you buy WazHack which uses the same core mechanics & features, but has a side-on viewpoint and far better UI & features.
http://www.desura.com/games/vulture-for-nethack
http://www.desura.com/games/wazhack

I feel as if I forgot some.  If anyone else has some recommendations for Free (graphical!!) RPGs, then please post 'em!   Or even indie ones for sale (which I haven't mentioned much here)!


I'm also looking forward to picking up Cardinal Quest 2 when it comes out, as the original was fun despite being quite small on features and content (of which there will be more). 





« Last Edit: September 29, 2012, 11:25:18 PM by Nefaro »

Offline Rayfer

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2012, 08:16:48 AM »
Wow! Lots there to consider, thanks for posting.  I remember playing Devil Whiskey a few years ago...it had its good points and was fun for awhile, but I found the constant repetitive combat a distraction from being able to walk around and explore.  It seemed like you couldn't take two steps anywhere, in any direction, without being attacked by a horde of monsters, barbarians, whatever. 

Offline Grim.Reaper

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2012, 08:39:02 AM »
Well, likely I am going to seem stupid here, but I will ask anyway:(  I often see the term "rouguelike" used....I have no idea what that means.  Anyone?

Offline Staggerwing

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2012, 08:43:28 AM »
The name is based on an early game called Rogue and the top-down game play style is now described that way. I didn't know that until a year or two ago when I had to look it up.
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Offline Nefaro

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2012, 11:57:57 AM »
Wow! Lots there to consider, thanks for posting.  I remember playing Devil Whiskey a few years ago...it had its good points and was fun for awhile, but I found the constant repetitive combat a distraction from being able to walk around and explore.  It seemed like you couldn't take two steps anywhere, in any direction, without being attacked by a horde of monsters, barbarians, whatever.

Demise looks to get past the repetitive combat sequences by doing it in real-time "2 second" continuous turns.  While single-player combat is pausable, it still runs at the speed of light IMO.  Luckily, your party members are just set to automatically melee so things go by rather quickly without much input from you.. unless you want to cast a spell or use an item.  It's really pretty hands-off otherwise.  But this allows you to explore much faster, and you'll need it to get through the massive dungeon.  Still, the combat is a bit too fast for me so when a tough battle starts it can be a real pain to scramble for the (Shift+p) Pause keys, so I mapped them to one of my extra mouse buttons along with the 'f' key for initiating combat with peaceful monsters.

There are definitely some trade-offs, with Demise, for the huge amount of gameplay available (some say hundreds of hours in and they still haven't found everything).  There aren't any ranged weapons in combat - it's all swords & sizzling.   The 3D graphics are antiquated, although for the tile-based first-person RPG style, it's not a big deal.  The game was originally created with Visual Basic 6 long long ago in the far far away so the engine is still limited by that situation.  There is no hotkey swapping (poor Pause hotkey  :-[ ).  Having to use the keyboard cursor keys, to move, is rather annoying in this day and age - very old school but also rather punishing on my bent wrist.  I could list more complaints, but you get the picture.

Still, it's a long old-fashioned dungeon crawl and I'm digging it for what it is.  I believe the Gamersgate Indiefort sale ends at the end of September (today) and this is reportedly the last time Demise and Devil Whiskey will be in it for super cheap. 

Offline Nefaro

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2012, 12:21:36 PM »
Well, likely I am going to seem stupid here, but I will ask anyway:(  I often see the term "rouguelike" used....I have no idea what that means.  Anyone?

 ;)

Quote
The roguelike is a sub-genre of role-playing video games, characterized by level randomization, permanent death, and turn-based movement. Most roguelikes feature ASCII graphics, with newer ones increasingly offering tile-based graphics. Games are typically dungeon crawls, with many monsters, items, and environmental features. Computer roguelikes usually employ the majority of the keyboard to facilitate interaction with items and the environment. The name of the genre comes from the 1980 game Rogue.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roguelike


Turn-based RPGs with lots of randomness (and death!) in them so that there is huge replayability (because it's tough and you'll die a lot).   Some are easier than others, however.   They're the predecessors of real-time action RPGs but are more cerebral than those since, instead of button mashing & looting, you can stop to consider your tactics & resource usage without having to pause or panic.   You'll need to think about what to do as opposed to charging right in.

Another big reason like them is because of the exploration/discovery factor.  And character building.  And loot, of course!   One great feature of a number of roguelikes is the random item qualities that can be different for every new character you create.  For example, if you found a blue potion (or scroll named FIZLBITS, etc) in the last game that turned out to be a healing potion after you ID'd it (either by gulping it down or using an ID scroll or something on it) then that doesn't mean it will be the same on the next character's game.  Next time it could be any of the plethora of potions - it's random and you must figure out what is what every time by balancing risk with reward.  That blue potion could well be Poison next time so should you drink it to see what it is?  Or throw it at an enemy?  Give it to your dog? Dip your sword in it? Risk & reward is a common theme in Roguelikes along with managing limited resources and character improvement.  Since most of these roguelikes are permadeath, you're often making some serious decisions and living with the results.  Dying is learning!  :P 

That said, there is a fair amount of variation in the fancier ones, as to the details.  Their popularity has been going up since developers have been putting time into doing UIs and actually creating graphics for them.   Ditching the old ASCII characters and getting into the now is the best thing these indies have done for the genre, and things are looking up.  :)  Most of the freebies, and even many of the ones on sale, still have a rather large list of hotkeys - many without an equivalent interface button.  So part of the learning curve is remembering the commands to do so many things.  Yes, there is some learning curve on most.

Warning:  If you prefer your RPGs to be rail-rides mostly focused on story, then these aren't the droids you're looking for.

Offline Nefaro

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2012, 12:33:55 PM »
Screenies with my current characters in Demise Ascension.






It's not exactly a roguelike since it doesn't have permadeath (just permanent stat penalty possibilities) and it's real-time.   Just a dungeon crawler.

I'll post screens of some other listed games from my first post, as I fire them up.

Offline airboy

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2012, 01:40:30 PM »
I just bought Ascension, Devil Whiskey and one other game for $4 on gamers gate.  Hopefully I will find them as enjoyable as you have.

Offline airboy

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2012, 01:41:21 PM »
The Spiderweb Software games like Ascension and Geneforge are also very good.

Offline Nefaro

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2012, 07:35:56 PM »
The Spiderweb Software games like Ascension and Geneforge are also very good.

Yeah, those are nice.  And they actually have some storyline to them.  Although, for some reason, I've not played the one I have very long at a stint.  Dunno what holds me back.  Perhaps it's because I've tried playing Avadon, and it's reportedly slower beginning and more story-focused gameplay, rather than the new Avernum facelift which look to be more Dungeon-Crawler oriented than Avadon.  I more often prefer the highly randomized roguelikes to the old Ultima/Might & Magic style games where most everything is set in stone, but still enjoy the latter quite a bit, too, up until some annoying puzzle or quest dead-end starts frustrating me.

Regarding the old-school RPGs with some story and little randomization, I still have these installed:

Bards Tale 1-3 and Dragon Wars.   (As mentioned earlier in the thread)  Pretty straightforward old DOS games.  Little in the way of character development but a helluva lot of exploration to do.  Devil Whiskey is almost exactly like these but DW keeps crashing on me fairly regularly. 

Wizardry 8.  - Excellent game, runs on Windows still.  A first-person party based dungeon crawler of the old style, it's probably the most advanced of it's kind with a good amount of bells & whistles.  I'm currently stuck in a spot where my party is getting murderized when I try to get through one spot.  Hard to find the discs for this game;  even when it was brand new had to get it snail mailed from Canuckistan. 


Project Zomboid, NEO Scavenger and Rogue Survivor are some Post-Apoc Survival and/or Zombie RPGs.  The latter is a free roguelike that's probably a bit too repetitive for my tastes but still an interesting entry.   NEO Scavenger and Project Zomboid are betas up for sale at Desura that look very promising.  I'm especially eyeing NEO Scavenger right now because it is wholly turn-based and the demo is excellent.  Zomboid's development seems to crawl along at a snail's pace so I've not been following it as closely since a finished version may take another five years.  :-\  Still, it's another explore & gather & survive setting and those can be quite fun.  Speaking of.. I haven't eyed the Wasteland(?name?) remake kickstarter but I suppose that will be an even further distance off until release.  I vaguely recall playing the original on C64 so it'll be interesting to see how the new one turns out.

I'll also give Unreal World an honorable mention as another survival RPG.  It's definitely very roguelike.  I had played the demo and thought it interesting, then someone was kind enough to post a link to the game, when it was being given away for free for a couple days, and I grabbed it.  Certainly different because you play an ancient native in Finland living off the land (and trying to keep yourself alive).  So there's lots of material gathering & animal hunting.  A rather mundane survival game, sure, but for the same reason.. you don't see this kind of thing much.

Eschalon I & II is fun.  Somewhat resembles the old Ultima games.  While the game mechanics feel a bit simple under the hood, it's still a fun game (note: I've only played Eschalon 2).  These aren't roguelikes, so they're more story-oriented although you'll still have some exploration to do.  I'd relate these to the Spiderweb games with the difference being that the Eschalons are for a solo character, as opposed to a party.  I often prefer the solo type like this where you can build up your super-character and not have to worry about multiple different inventories & such. 

I had actually picked up Telepath RPG and Black Market with the other Indiefort games mentioned above and those are definitely RPGs of the indie kind, too.  I've just not played them yet.

Frayed Knights: The Skull Of Smak'Daon is a newer indie of the first-person-party type, but I've not grabbed it yet.  Sounds like a great game but you can't create your own characters since the premade ones are supposed to blabber wittily with each other.  So the lack of customizing your own characters has held me back thus far.  I would like to get it sometime although the price is higher than most of these (the other limiting factor - path of least resistance, right?).

Oh, and don't let me forget to mention DoomRL (another freebie) because it's got some rather simple roguelike run & gun to it (with the Doom theme) that's fun for short stints.  The same guy has an Aliens roguelike but it's still only ASCII'd.

I've been debating whether I want to dig out the old AD&D 'gold box' games for DOS just to dicker with them a bit.  If I ever want something besides Wizardry 8, I'll dig out one of the old Might & Magic games (still have a couple of those around somewhere too) and mess with getting them to run.  Hopefully there's no screwy disk DRM on them.. that often seems to be the first issue.  If nothing else, GOG has those on sale.

Any more old-style RPGs I've missed??   :D










« Last Edit: September 30, 2012, 07:40:22 PM by Nefaro »

Offline Nefaro

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2012, 01:36:30 AM »
Screenshots of Prospector.  The space explorer captain roguelike.















This is definitely a roguelike.  I spent some time being chased by hostile and semi-hostile planet life on my first landing.  I lost one Red Shirt and my Pilot thus far.   But I picked up some resources on the surface and beat feet back to the ship.  Gonna head back to the space station, sell my raw materials and get some crew replacements & more ranged weapons for my away team.  :D

I've not had a ship-to-ship fight yet, but it's probably similar to the ground combat regarding mechanics.  If you've played Dungeon Crawl or Angband, you'll be familiar with it.




Offline Nefaro

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2012, 04:02:45 AM »
Quick update.

Expedition seems to be the sailing & exploration of the new world kinda game I probably wanted, as opposed to Sid Meier's Colonization remake.    It has more exploration and not quite so much diddling about with running the colonies you found.   :)

I'm quite impressed with it this early in the game.

It has a lot of mouse support so you don't have to rely on the keyboard as much as others.  It has some decent quality for a free roguelike. I'm not sure how random the "Historic" scenario's map is, or if it's meant to be.  I've not done much reading on this one but it piqued my interest as soon as I saw it.  I'm sure my first new colony will probably starve or be killed off by natives.  ;D   Not sure where to go from here because I don't have enough food for the trip back to Europe, so looks like I'll be wandering around with an expedition, living off the land for awhile.  Goin' native.







I didn't take a screenshot of sailing.  It does have wind effect on you points of sail along with only being able to estimate your latitude.  When you first start up a new game, you'll start off in Spain, talking to the King & Queen.   They mention talking to a priest at court to get some starter tips.  Then it's off through town to get your crew, weapons, supplies, etc and setting sail from the end of the pier. 

Tip:  The Numpad keys control movement as they do in most roguelikes.  However when you're sailing, the Num8 key is 'forward' and the left/right ones(Num4,6) turn 45 degrees before going forward one space.  Also, hold down Num8 (the forward one) to spam travel .. until the wind changes on you, anyway.   And don't forget to hit the "Repair Ships" button if they've taken some damage along the way.  I generally choose the "use all crew" option so as to save time, since I brought 300 Wood with me (200 for building first camp/colony and extra 100 for ship repairs).   You can always send out expeditions to chop wood when you arrive, anyway, so as long as you have plenty extra to toss at ship repairs then why not?  BTW.. the couple songs that come with it are surprisingly good & moody.

I ramble.. anyway, this could well be one of the great freebies mentioned here.


Expeditions's download page:
http://slashie.net/download.php?list.4

**get the Windows JRE bundle installer if you don't wanna d*ck with downloading Java stuff separately**

***The screenshots I took were using the "Denzi" tileset, not the default "BigDenzi" ones.  The game asks which set you want to use on start-up, so just click whichever one you like the most.***

« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 04:09:44 AM by Nefaro »

Offline spelk

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2012, 08:55:15 AM »
Don't know whether you'd include the likes of Magic Stones or Loren Amazon Princess from Winter Wolves, but they are indie RPG's with tactical turn based combat. Very similar to the likes of FastCrawl (from Pawleyscape - now gone!) or Monster's Den.

The Spirit Engine 2, is an interesting side scrolling, timing based combat RPG.
http://www.thespiritengine.com/tse2-download.php

Stretching it a little further, the likes of Battle of Tiles, gives you a dungeon crawl experience, with party build, location and classes.
http://www.bimboosoft.com/BOT/

Or you could venture a little further on from rogue-likes into the world of MUD's - for your dungeon crawling experience.
http://sugarfreegamer.com/?p=262

Offline Nefaro

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2012, 11:12:50 AM »
Thanks for the links.

I didn't even know Monsters' Den existed so I'm plugging away at that little dungeon delve now too.  That will come in handy when I'm laid up for awhile sometime soon, too, on a tablet.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 11:26:11 AM by Nefaro »

Offline Silent Disapproval Robot

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Re: Dungeon Crawling RPGs & Graphical Roguelikes
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2012, 01:13:08 PM »
I picked up that Demise thingie based on your post.  Man, what a horrible, horrible mistake.  I have never seen a worse front end GUI and in-game interface in my life.  Who designed this thing?  The Inquisition?

I've been playing Undercoft on my iPhone.  Much more enjoyable RPG experience and it's free.