- Casual Roguelikes? Can they be a thing?
My first thought was 'no, it isn't possible to create casual roguelikes because making them any more forgiving would lose the roguelike aspect'. But then I realised that modern roguelikes already are
Take Rogue Legacy, for example. The entire game is built not on beating the game with a fresh character, but beating the game reliant on the hoard of money and upgrades you have amassed with previous characters.
The game relies
upon the fact that you die. It expects it of you.
In the original generation of roguelikes, the whole point would be not dying.
Yes, not dying is still somewhat a sub-goal in Rogue Legacy, and also pretty relevant in most other roguelikes (Binding of Isaac, FTL, etc), but the fact that Rogue Legacy almost encourages death so you can spend your accumulated masses on becoming a stronger character in the future and in doing so is not called a sub-roguelike or roguelikelike but still shares a term with the tougher stuff… it seems off.
Gaming as a whole seems to be leaning towards ease and reward lately. Everything's already gone or is going casual. Even Dark Souls II had one of the publishers or devs (I can't remember which) state that they were going to try making it an easier experience. Something about 'survival should be satisfying, but not challenging'?
Trying to make modern roguelikes more casual is not possible when using my
definition of roguelikes, because then they wouldn't be roguelikes anymore.
The wiki's definition? Arguable, if you add fancy mechanics like Rogue Legacy did.
I wonder if Rogue Legacy would have called itself a 'casual roguelike' had that combination of terms not been a marketing killer.
On my bashing at Rogue Legacy, two things:
1. I don't hate Rogue Legacy. It's a fun game, but I can't say I truly consider it a roguelike, that's all.
2. Yes, there are other games apart from Rogue Legacy that led me to believe all this. Rogue Legacy is simply the easiest example.
Why I consider many other modern roguelikes to be casual is generally due to to their length combined with the ease of progress. An example of a modern non-casual roguelike would be Dungeons of Dredmor, where whether you reach the last level depends heavily on how you build your character to begin with combined with how you try to maximise the efficiency of your character along the way. That is, planning and skill in execution. Even in the -*shudder*- easy mode actually completing the game can become a challenge. I think. I never tried the easy mode.
Don't ever play without permadeath though, else you're not playing on skill but on infinite trial and error. Complete entropy. So the planning goes out of the window too.
In contrast, FTL is a lot shorter. It's entirely possible to reach the final zone unscathed. Not leave it unscathed, perhaps, but the ease of progression in FTL seems more luck-based than skill-based to me. Sure you'll need the skill to use your weapons efficiently, but whether you find those weapons in the first place really can't be planned. The roguelike area randomisation element is more noticable on your ship and crew than the environment itself. The base strength of your resources relies on luck, and the way the combat system works you're either untouchable or will be ripped to shreds. Clean and unforgiving, but a bit iffy when there's hardly any way to even 'be more cautious' when your hull's hanging off its hinges.
The final battle's pretty ridicutough in comparison to the area directly previous, but that doesn't make it a roguelike, that just gives it a huge cliff of a difficulty curve, depending of course on how much scrap you bumped into along the way. Quite literally. It might be a slightly smaller cliff in some cases, and people might be able to find a setup with which they can scale it, but I digress.
FTL's set amount of areas to go through don't take too long to explore, especially as you're pressured into advancing by a bloody army that's on your tail at all times. The key lies of course in using your time as efficiently as possible, but if you can't find anything useful then you're out of luck.
FTL doesn't feel like a roguelike. FTL's difficulty
is a roguelike. The ease of progression is almost randomised, and your skill, whilst influential, really doesn't do as much as one might feel it should.
Not to mention that you're likely to encounter that cliff at the end, just when you thought it was going so well.
Actually, I'm not sure where I was going with this. Yes, it's short, but that doesn't make it casual.
One can casually play it, with the random difficulty, but that just means there'll be slightly more restarting and you'll never surmount that final cliff.
I suppose not as many games are turning casual as I thought.