Death of the Critic

Narrative

Roguelikes and Story

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I’ve written about
roguelikes before, but one thing about these games has always been limiting, at least in my opinion. The implementation of a story (or lack thereof) constrains these titles, prevents them from being something other than a casual endeavor to pick up and play when the mood strikes, and then drop after a particularly frustrating death. As a genre, it hinges on gameplay and mechanics so much because mastery and its pursuit is what keeps players coming back.

The idea of “grokking”, of not only understanding the mechanics of the game, but absorbing them enough that it enables you to look at the game differently, is the bread and butter of the Roguelike/lite genre. Sure you want to reach the end of the dungeon and fight the last boss, but even after that, you will endlessly chase the perfect run, the platonic ideal of what a playthrough could be, where everything comes together just right, with all of the correct pickups and weapons to make playing a breeze.

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