Rogue is a dungeon crawling game released all the way back in 1980.
This complex ASCII turn-based game set important features of a new sub-genre of games, such as procedurally generated levels and permadeath. Its seminal influence is depicted in the name of the genre, as similar games are just like Rogue. They’re roguelike.
At the International Roguelike Development Conference of 2008, the attendees discussed what encompasses a roguelike game. However, modern definitions are much more lenient when it comes to classifying games under the genre.
For one thing, there are now roguelikes and roguelites. While both of them feature procedurally generated levels and a permadeath system, the former has no persistent upgrades while the latter does.
Roguelike games start each run fresh, and you have to get by with a mastery of the game. Meanwhile, roguelites let you keep or unlock shinier gear and abilities for subsequent runs to make them a little easier. The best of both variants are included within this list.
Due to the nature of roguelikes, the Nintendo Switch’s portability is perfect for the genre. Switch owners are also spoiled for choice since the console is oversaturated with this genre—we’ve narrowed down the 17 best roguelike games on Switch below.
Void Bastards: DeLUXe Bundle
Void Bastards is a science fiction FPS switch game that blends multiple genres with finesse. By combining tactical first-person shooting and the experimental gameplay of an immersive sim, it becomes one of the best roguelike games on Switch.
Void Bastard’s main gameplay loop sees you docking into abandoned space ships to scavenge for parts to fix your own broken ship. Along the way, you haul back other valuable items for your journey, like food and scraps for crafting weapons.
There’s an element of strategy involved in how you’ll route your ship’s destination throughout the area. Additionally, you also have to choose which items you’ll bring to the mission.
The bulk of the game takes place inside the ships you’ll explore. As expected of a roguelike game, the levels are procedurally generated. The enemies, challenges, and items are also unique to your run.
If you do happen to lose (which will happen often), you’ll be booted back to the main ship as another character with their own distinct traits. Tight gameplay, persistent upgrades, and great humor make this one of the best roguelike games on Switch.
Ape Out is a top-down beat-em-up game presented in an aesthetically pleasing minimal design with an innovative dynamic jazz soundtrack. Think of a fast-paced Hotline Miami with roguelike elements and starring a rampaging ape.
Play as a gorilla escaping from captivity, whether that’s a high-rise tower or an isolated research lab, all you need to do is break out. These maze-like levels are procedurally generated and change every time you lose.
Ape Out only has two main actions: shoving and grabbing. You can forcefully shove enemies towards walls or each other and watch them explode into a colorful splash. Meanwhile, grabbing objects and enemies lets you use them as shields.
Even though the controls are simple, the chaotic gameplay will keep you laser-focused. You’ll be weaving in and out of the environment while using your tools in interesting ways to overcome each stage.
The most innovative feature of Ape Out is its procedurally generated and reactive jazz soundtrack. A frenetic improvisational jazz solo will follow the gorilla’s actions.
For example, each time you take down an enemy you’ll hear a loud cymbal crash. Alternatively, if you sneak around, the drum beat also matches your slower pace.
Ape Out is pure joy, and is undoubtedly one of the best Switch roguelike games.
From the creator of puzzle-platform game VVVVVV and rhythmic action game Super Hexagon comes one of the best Switch roguelikes. Dicey Dungeons adds board game mechanics and a deckbuilding progression system to the roguelike formula.
Lady Luck has turned six unfortunate adventurers to dice and challenges them to a dangerous game show. By fighting monsters and upgrading their characters, they’ll hopefully clear the dungeon to earn back their freedom.
Dicey Dungeon is one of the best turn-based role-playing games on Switch because of its unique combat. Your skills and abilities are displayed on-screen with empty sockets to slot die into.
It may sound like it’s heavily reliant on luck, but it’s not as there are many ways to turn the tide in your favor. Combat becomes even more strategic when you incorporate status effects into your strategy.
These six playable characters drastically affect gameplay. For example, the basic character named Warrior, prefers high dice for maximum damage for his straightforward move set. In contrast to the spellcasting Witch, who uses dice to unlock attacks from her complex spellbook.
The game is surprisingly difficult and it gets harder with every win when new rulesets are introduced. But stick to it because the game is fun and has a lot of depth the more you play it. Additionally, the energetic soundtrack will have you bopping your head during the intense moments.
ScourgeBringer is a roguelite, hack and slash game that punishes or rewards you for the smallest actions. This intense game demands all your attention if you hope to make it to the end.
ScourgeBringer has an extremely fast-paced and polished combat that encourages mobility. Your small but nimble character will dash, dodge, and bounce between enemies in an instant. You can also sparingly use skills and range weapons to help you through harder encounters.
What makes ScourgeBringer one of the best roguelikes for Nintendo Switch is the fun unlockables you can find to customize your character. While it starts out simple, you’ll learn to incorporate all your new moves fluidly after consecutive runs. It’s also one of the best action games on Switch for a reason.
Hopefully, you’ll master the game’s combat and have a great run to reach the final boss of the area. These bosses have unique mechanics which will force you to think about your moveset in another light.
Aside from that, ScourgeBringer is visually pleasing, boasting stellar art direction. To top it all off, the game has an excellent rock soundtrack that even rivals greats like Doom.
The Binding of Isaac: Repentance
Along with Spelunky and Rogue Legacy, The Binding of Isaac is one of the reasons why roguelikes have seen a modern resurgence. It’s a top-down dungeon crawler Zelda-like Switch game that stands strong more than a decade after its initial release.
The story of Binding of Isaac is inspired by the biblical story of the same name. The game keeps a morbid and dark twist on religious themes, as seen by its narrative and gameplay.
Guide Isaac and other playable characters through a procedurally generated dungeon. The core gameplay is similar to a twin-stick shooter, as you’re moving Isaac around the room while shooting back at enemies.
However, this game is overflowing with content. There’s an overabundance of items, power ups, upgrades, and modifiers to define your run. No run is ever the same because of the ridiculous amount of ways to spice up gameplay.
Players who’ve played the base game ad nauseam will be glad to jump back in because of the Repentance DLC. This final DLC is a massive expansion pack that adds hundreds of features and quality-of-life changes.
There are more enemies, more playable characters, more room designs, and even new endings. New players and veterans who put in thousands of hours are welcome to re-experience this awesome Switch-friendly roguelike.
Children of Morta: Complete Edition
Children of Morta is a roguelite action role-playing game that feels and even plays like Diablo at times. While this game has great gameplay, it doesn’t neglect to tell an engaging story with compelling characters.
Children of Morta tells the story of the Bergson family who is tasked with protecting the world from an evil named the Corruption. Each family member has a unique fighting skill with their own skills. You can bring another character with you through local co-op.
The Bergson’s are definitely the crux of the game, especially their dynamics with each other. There’s an emotional story here that you’ll slowly unravel through repeated playthroughs.
Gameplay sees you taking family members on procedurally generated dungeons underneath Mount Morta. Combat is simple but fun, what really spices it up are the boons you’ll find in each run.
What makes this one of the best roguelike games on Switch is how it deals with persistent upgrades. Back at home, you can individually upgrade family members to grow their arsenal. However, you can also upgrade their skills to benefit other Bergson’s during their run.
UnderMine is an action-adventure roguelite where you’ll explore dangerous underground dungeons within mines and caverns. Compared to other games on this list, the game doesn’t overwhelm you with content, yet keeps you engage with its polished gameplay all throughout.
You play as one of the hundreds of randomized peasants who work in the mines. An Archmage named Arkanos who works for the king tasks the miners to find the source of tremors originating deep within the mines that are disturbing the kingdom.
In game, players will go through procedurally generated rooms filled with monsters, traps, and valuable items. The miner’s core equipment is centered around their trust pickaxe.
You can attack with quick melee swipes or throw your pickaxe like a metal boomerang. Miners can also use bombs to attack to open hidden secrets to reveal treasure.
UnderMine doesn’t throw hundreds of items at you in the hopes that you can find your own fun. Instead, it offers passive effects that slightly alter your playstyle. Even so, the primary gameplay of using your pickaxe remains.
While you’re underground spelunking, you can also find and mine for gold. It is important to bring back as much gold as you can since this is the key to unlocking permanent upgrades. Moreover, players lose half of their gold upon death so it’s important to spend them between runs.
For example, you can craft items at the blacksmith, which means that these relics will appear in the dungeon. Alternatively, you can also upgrade your potions at the alchemist, which upgrades your consumable buffs.
UnderMine is amazing at what it does and shows amazing restraint for its simple gameplay loop. It’s one of my favorite Switch roguelikes, and a title that I have hundreds of hours on.
Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer
Crypt of the NecroDancer is a surprise indie action-adventure game on Nintendo Switch. Cadence of Hyrule is a spin-off of NecroDancer that takes place within the world of The Legend of Zelda.
A new villain named Octavo comes to Hyrule and places the king, Link, and Zelda in a deep sleep. The protagonist of NecroDancer, Cadence, wakes up the two heroes. Together, they adventure to stop Octavo and hopefully find a way for Cadence to return home.
Cadence of Hyrule is a rhythm game where you can only move to the beat and attack to the beat. Enemies will also move to the same beat; it’s important to plan your attack while keeping up with the rhythm at the same time.
Aside from the three heroes, there are other playable characters to unlock. These characters have different abilities and items they can use to switch up gameplay.
The game features remixed songs from The Legend of Zelda franchise. It’s a blast of nostalgia when you hear your favorite tunes officially remade into techno and EDM bops.
When you start a new game, the overworld is procedurally generated. Your map is unique and stays that way for the whole save file. However, some dungeons and major temples are randomized each time you enter inside.
This is a magical crossover and both games complement each other’s strengths. Cadence of Hyrule is truly one of the best roguelike games on Nintendo Switch.
While Cadence of Hyrule is a roguelike, it doesn’t feel that way since it spans a whole adventure. The original Crypt of the NecroDancer is truer to that form since it incorporates dungeon crawling and repetitive loops into its gameplay.
Into the Breach
From the creators of another great roguelike FTL: Faster Than Light, comes a roguelike strategy game that takes inspiration from Chess. This game lets you command advanced mech squads to defend the last humans from aliens invading Earth.
Giant insect-like alien creatures called the Vek are threatening the last few cities left on Earth. Your health is entirely dependent on how much damage the buildings and infrastructure takes.This unique life mechanic makes you view the game from a different angle.
Winning a round of Into the Breach is not always about obliterating the alien opposition, it’s about doing whatever it takes to save humanity. Destroy, block, or reposition Vek away structures; even if it breaks your mechs.
To do this, you’ll control a team of three mechs to fight the Vek. These mech squads are pre-build and they take advantage of different mechanics.
For example, the Steel Judokas are great at repositioning Vek to attack each other. Meanwhile, Frozen Titans specialize in freezing aliens in place. Eventually, you’ll unlock the option to build custom squads.
The challenges, map layout, and enemy placement are all procedurally generated. If you fail a run, you can send one of the pilots back in time to assist the new batch of pilots to protect Earth. The addicting gameplay loop makes for an extremely fun experience.
Monster Train First Class
The roguelike genre pairs naturally well with the best card games on Nintendo Switch. For instance, Monster Train is an addicting roguelite deckbuilder where you lead denizens of the underworld to defend the last burning pyre, lest hell literally freezes over.
There are six clans in hell that answered the call to escort the last pyre. It is kept on top of a moving train called the Boneshaker, currently on its way to the frozen pyre.
You may select two of these clans during each run, and that will affect what cards you’re able to draw. However, you’ll only receive the powerful champion card of the main clan.
Combat combines the best of both card games and tower defense games. You have to place your units in three vertical compartments, the fourth and highest holds your pyre. It is crucial to protect the pyre as this acts as your health; losing it means you lose the run.
After combat scenarios, you’ll come across different events to upgrade your arsenal. It’s important to have a strategy in mind so as not to waste all of your precious resources. Difficulty bosses will be sure to give you a reality check if your deck is subpar.
Monster Train is one of the best roguelike games on Nintendo Switch because of how much fun subsequent playthroughs become. Persistent unlocks keeps the game fresh and bring you back for just another run.
Spelunky 2 is cursed with the unfortunate predicament of competing with a cult classic, Spelunky. However, it manages to take everything fans loved of the first and added much-needed improvements.
This 2D roguelike platformer sees you controlling Ana, the daughter of the first game’s protagonist, diving deep into a mysterious ruin to search for her parents. Everything from the layout, traps, and paths of the ruins are procedurally generated.
Like the first game, you’ll have to quickly navigate the randomized level to travel from stage to stage. The issue is the game is ridiculously hard, so expect to restart all the way at the beginning a lot.
You can’t unlock persistent upgrades in Spelunky 2. You’ll only get by playing the game over and over again until you get better.
Fortunately, the core gameplay loop is extremely fun and filled with secrets to discover. There are many steps you can do to power up your character to help her explore further, like finding valuable items.
Keep grinding and soon enough you’ll zoom through levels with little resistance.
Nuclear Throne is a top-down roguelike shooter and one of the quintessential bullet hell Switch classics. It’s an excellent game that heavily relies on your skill to reach the titular throne.
You’ll play as one of the twelve mutants in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has gone extinct. These mutants have unique abilities and start with different weapons. For instance, the default character can dodge roll as well as pick up more ammo.
Nuclear Throne has satisfying gunplay with impactful audio-visual feedback. You can even break the environment to create impromptu cover during a hectic firefight. The game gets chaotic quickly, so you have to dodge while you fire back.
The game is savage and seems to take pleasure in making you lose. Fortunately, local co-op is available in case you need a friend’s help to reach the end. There are even ways to make the game more challenging once you start to understand it better.
If you play well you can slot Mutations on your character, which grants them extra abilities. You can select an Ultimate Mutation once you reach the max level.
Nuclear Throne is packed with content, is endlessly replayable, and can comfortably keep up with newer releases.
Risk of Rain 2
Risk of Rain 2 is a roguelite third-person shooter where you mow down hordes of alien enemies on your Switch. Each run starts slow and then it quickly transforms into chaos on screen, with units and projectiles flying everywhere.
You’ll start off by picking a crew member of the UES: Safe Travels who crash-landed into a planet called Petrichor V. These survivors are the heart and soul of gameplay as they’ll define your playstyle for that run.
Players who love building overpowered turrets might find their fun using the Engineer. While players who love high-octane and fast-paced gameplay will fall in love with Loader. Each character can also unlock new skills for their kit by completing different challenges in-game.
In each stage of Risk of Rain 2, you have a simple goal: find the teleporter. Teleporters summon a boss fight for the area before letting you go. After enough teleporters, you’ll fight the final boss.
However, it is up to you and up to three other friends to decide when to activate it. You’ll have to power up your character by beating aliens and opening chests to collect items.
At the same time, you can’t stay too long on a stage since monsters become deadlier as time passes by. Risk of Rain 2 is intense and fun with friends and as a single player game.
Slay the Spire
Slay the Spire is one of those genre-defining games that prove how perfectly deckbuilders and roguelikes blend together. This is a crushingly punishing game where you’ll need a little luck and a lot of wits to reach the final act.
There are four unlockable characters in Slay the Spire. These characters have a huge array of cards that can cater to different playstyles if you know how to build them.
But due to the nature of deckbuilders, you don’t go in with a plan. Instead, you’ll have to adapt on the fly based on the relics and cards given to you during the run. Slay the Spire rewards players who take the time to learn all of its intricate systems and card synergies.
Slay the Spire takes place in three main acts; each act ends with a challenging boss fight. The game is fully transparent with the route and it’s up to you to decide which one is better suited for your run. It’s important to know when to fight more enemies for more cards, or to challenge elite mini-bosses for more relics.
What makes Slay the Spire interesting is that you have full access to information during combat encounters. The game will tell you what your foes will do after your turn. So, whether they’ll attack or debuff, you have to respond with what’s appropriate.
With harder difficulties to unlock as you progress, this roguelike has plenty of replayability.
Dead Cells is a fast-paced and brutal action game with roguelite elements. This is one of those games where you can’t help but play one more run and end up playing for a few hours.
The game lets you play as the Prisoner, who must fight through the island in order to escape. This will take quite some to achieve this goal as the game is frustratingly hard.
Unlike other roguelike games, Dead Cells values your skill above all else. Combat is fast-paced, brutal, and fair. You can always get by your reflexes and game knowledge even if luck won’t throw you powerful items.
Playing the game repeatedly will help ease the burden, as you’ll unlock permanent upgrades and items during the run. However, make sure to spend your earned currency during the actual run as you’ll lose it all on death.
Dead Cells lets you explore Metroidvania-like levels with branching paths. There are always secrets hidden on the map, and unlocking new power ups lets open up new areas.
Dead Cells has frequent and massive updates with no sign of stopping. This is one of the best roguelite games on Switch if you’re craving non-stop fast-paced combat.
Enter the Gungeon
Enter the Gungeon is a bullet hell roguelike game where players are spoiled with content.
You’ll choose from four characters (five, if you’re playing local co-op) to descend into a dungeon where everything is made from gun-related objects. For instance, the main fodder enemies are sentient bullets that shoot their own guns. At the bottom of the dungeon lies a powerful relic: a gun that can kill their past.
Each floor is procedurally generated with some secret rooms scattered throughout. Eventually, you’ll come across the boss of the floor which you have to defeat to further descend.
Enter the Gungeon offers an overwhelmingly large number of weapons and items to use—over 300 of them, in fact. Even though there are an overwhelming amount of items, they’re all creative and fun to use. The game is a lesson on excess done right.
You’ll slowly unlock these items by collecting special currency to spend after each run. Then, they’ll be added to the loot pool which you can encounter during your run. The most amazing aspect of this is that many items literally synergize with each other, meaning that they’ll combine to make a better item.
Enter the Gungeon does bosses really well. These hard enemies truly put you in Switch bullet hell as you have to dodge the massive amount of projectiles filling up the screen.
Hades is indeed another innovative smash hit from Supergiant games.
You play as Zagreus, son of Hades and prince of the Underworld. He desperately wants to escape the Underworld and climb to the surface, hopefully joining his relatives on Mount Olympus after that.
Zagreus is trained by the legendary warrior Achilles himself, so he’s adept at using a wide variety of weapons. You can customize these weapons to create alternate playstyles, increasing replayability. These Infernal Arms are also renowned relics of history, like the Varatha spear and Aegis shield.
Ever so often during your run, the gods of Olympus would offer you boons that serve as interesting but temporary power-ups. For example, Zeus offers lightning-based upgrades that are great at dealing with crowds of demons. Mixing and matching these boons always creates dynamic gameplay.
Hades is potentially the best roguelike games on Switch because of how masterfully it justifies itself as being a true roguelike.
Hades has tons of charming dialogue that will keep you engaged as you try to fight your way out, and it’s just an all-round top game.