Weekend Download:
Roguelike Edition


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Weekend Download

JohnBRoguelikes seem to be a lost love amongst most modern gamers. "Give me simplicity!" they cry, "Give me pretty pictures!", "Let me play without reading a manual or memorizing commands!". Well, while they sit in the corner and play FarmVille, we'll settle down with our deliciously intriguing dungeon crawling RPGs of yore. Even though the glory days of Nethack are gone, the roguelike is alive and very well today, and there are a number of great projects that aim to bridge the gap between fans and non-fans so that everyone can enjoy the deep satisfaction of exploring the unknown.

brogue.gifBrogue (Mac/Win/Linux, ~1MB, free) - A roguelike that peels away layers of complexity without pulling off an ounce of the meat of the game. Brogue's biggest feature is its shallow learning curve. You don't need to know that "Q" allows you to drink a potion or what that wandering "D" represents. Instead, Brogue informs you of your surroundings automatically, even going so far as allowing you to use the mouse to move around. And to use items, one or two keys will do, a menu allowing you to choose which objects to quaff/read/equip. The rest is all about exploration with some combat that gets gradually more challenging as you continue. Loads of items to find, and some surprisingly tasty flavor text fills out the ASCII world you inhabit. And even though the visuals are just colored text, you'll be amazed how beautiful the world looks.

ledom.gifLEDom (Windows, 2.5MB, free) - How's this for simplicity: you're controlling a light on an LED board! Even simpler than the other roguelikes featured, LEDom is just about running through passageways, defeating red dots and collecting equipment in the form of flashing dots. Clear the floor, find the exit, and you're on to a more challenging level of the dungeon. A handy outline of your character shows you which parts are armored, and the music makes sure you never take the game too seriously.

smartkobold.gifSmart Kobold (Windows/Linux, 4MB, free) - Less of a traditional roguelike than the above, Smart Kobold spins more of a tale than your usual dungeon crawler. You are an adventurer looking for gold to repay some of your debts. Kobolds are rumored to keep valuable metals in their caves, so you decide to head in and investigate. Full of bravado, you start your quest with nothing, knowing you could defeat swarms of those beasts with your bare hands. It's not like the kobolds are... smart, right? Well, we'll see how your assumptions pan out once you start exploring the caves...

Note: All games have been confirmed to run under Windows 7 and are virus-free. Mac users should try Boot Camp, Parallels, or CrossOver Games to play Windows titles, Linux users can use Wine. If you know of a great game we should feature, use the Submit link above to send it in!

9 Comments

Merry Christmas everybody!

In LEDom: you move with the arrow keys or the keypad (which is better for diagonals since you cannot do with arrow keys).
Red dots are enemies with when you move into them you attack them (or miss like a rpg, white ones are items which your player can equip.
That's all I tried so far, going to continue playing, thanks JIG!

I too am enjoying Brogue, Kobold didn't work for me, I like how you learn different things.

Great choices!

I'd like to recommend...

[Please use our online game submit form for recommending games. Thank you! -Jay]

I just tried LEDom and let me begin by admitting I have an unusual keyboard which does not include a number pad (it's wireless and compact,) so, immediately, I lose some functionality of this game.

Next, I have a very new computer, 4-core, etc.

This game is, almost, entirely unplayable simply because of speed issues. "Too fast" speed issues. Turning the game on took several tries, as-is, in order to get the switch to stay in the 'on' position. Moving, with a split-second tap of any arrow key, pushes my marker 2, sometimes 3 lights over, and combat is over in the blink of an eye, often leaving me to start over.

The game looks neat, the music is cheerful...I'm just hoping my older computer doesn't have the same problems

Smart Kobold is fun. But after you play it a few times, you realize that

winning is impossible without cheating.

I've been playing Brogue for a while. It doesn't have the depth of a game like Nethack, of course, but there are quite a few things to experiment with and discover. So far the most fun I've had was when

I freed a captive ogre, zapped it with a wand of invisibility, and ended up having an invisible pet ogre running around bashing my enemies.

Smart Kobold is not impossible. Well, I'm not sure every random map configuration is winnable, but you don't have to hack the game to win. It's just very hard.

General hints:

First of all, the kobold lair begins with no alert level and remains that way until you are seen killing a kobold or spotted "inside" the lair proper. Thus, you can safely use the 'm' key to scout the entire lair before you set foot inside.

On certain maps, you can lure the two entrance guards around a corner to kill them without alerting the rest of them. I recommend restarting until you get such a map (shouldn't be more than 3-4 restarts).

The key to winning is getting your hands on a ranged weapon somehow. However, the kobolds always break their ranged weapons when they have their backs to the wall and you are about to kill them. There are several bows lying on the ground in the barracks before you enter, but as soon as you are spotted the kobolds grab all of them.

Specific hints:

The kobolds seem smart but their training has a fatal flaw. Sometimes, in an extremely crowded narrow corridor, a group of kobolds will not all properly "retreat" in formation like they should. This will allow you to close in next to an archer. Since the archer is backed up against not a wall but his fellow kobolds, he won't realize he is supposed to break his bow. When this happens you can kill him and take his weapon.

Setting this up is easier said than done, but there are some things you can do to up your odds of success.

First, this is easier on a map where you start reasonably close to the kobold vault and the long, single file ambush corridor leading to the vault. You also want a map with a curvy entrance, so you can kill the first two guards quietly.

Once you've found such a map, memorize or write down the path to the vault (scouting with the 'm' key). Next, lure the guards around a corner and dispatch them silently, one at a time. Stand right at the lair entrance, and 's'earch the full 10 squares in for traps. Then, when the coast is relatively clear, make a run for the vault corridor. You will probably be spotted quickly, but that's ok, the kobolds are still out of position at this point. You will take damage from a bunch of traps, but speed is more important here so don't waste time searching.

You should reach the ambush corridor at the same time as a dozen or more kobolds, all trying to get into the vault ahead of you. With any luck, just ahead of you will be an archer or mage, trying to run down the corridor away from you. Run him down and pray his friends don't get out from in front of him fast enough. If you succeed in killing him, grab his weapon, then try to find a smaller room or corridor to retreat to. If you were really fast, you may find it's safer to retreat further into the vault, but be careful.

Once you start shooting('f'), the kobolds will try to stay out of your lines of fire, but this actually works to your advantage. If you can't shoot them, they can't shoot you either. At this point you can use typical roguelike tactics to box in the kobolds. If you grabbed a bow, you should try to shoot a mage in order to take his wand, which is more powerful and reliable.

Once you have killed enough to buy some breathing room, don't forget to 's'earch with your ring to find and disable all the traps.

I was really impressed by Smart Kobols - it's not often that you see any kind of intelligent behaviour in a roguelike. It took me a number of tries and Hawk's strategy, but I finally won.

There's three things that I want to add:
Restarting the game:

I don't see much point in killing the first two guards silently. I tend to get spotted as soon as I step into the main dungeon - literally, the first step. There always seems to be a kobold just hanging around that you can't lure away and won't walk into any place where you can slip past unseen.

Finding the vault:

Take a note of the colours of the walls. Red is near the exit, blue is near the vault, and grey is near the barracks. It's no substitute for choosing a definite path to the gold via meditation, but it will make mapping faster and movement less reliant on notes.

Know when to stay your blade:

If you are seen killing a baby kobold, the kobolds will throw away all sense of self-preservation and mob you. If you're not in a good position - specifically, forcing the kobolds to come through a single chokepoint - then this will be your doom. Let the babies live!

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