Actual Roguelike Alert: Ancient Domains Of Mystery

By Adam Smith on June 6th, 2014 at 6:00 pm.

The purity of the term ‘roguelike’ has been debased and diluted. When I tell you that a game is a ‘roguelike’ you might expect to see platforming, first-person procedural dungeons or, I don’t know, a kart racing game with a cast of death-staring cartoon characters. It’s time to start a ‘Reclaim Roguelike’ campaign and Ancient Domains Of Mystery’s revival is a superb catalyst. The game never really went away but a development hiatus (2003-12) almost as long as Duke Nukem Forever’s actual development cycle (1926-2011) kept it out of the newsrooms for a good while. A successful crowdfunding campaign allowed creator and curator Thomas Biskup to return to development and the game is now riding high on Steam Greenlight and looking better than ever.

Biskup is one of the key figures in roguelike development, having maintained and updated ADOM for almost a decade before pausing for breath. The updated game will include the following, among other things:

After going through Greenlight and being launched on Steam ADOM will be the single most challenging and detailed roguelike game on the Steam platform – all thanks to almost 20 years of open development. Team ADOM intends to build upon this for many years to come: The Steam integration e.g. will enhance the ADOM community experience with both standard gameplay features like shared highscores and achievements as well as with new special features exchanging ghosts between games, cooperative modes for fighting Chaos and more.

The game also has official tile graphics for the first time, which are lovely and clean, as well as the traditional ASCII visuals. With a quest line that’s much more fleshed out than the usual ‘Fetch the Amulet’, ADOM is a more structured alternative to the likes of Nethack, Angband and Dungeon Crawl. The corruption mechanic and overworld are strong and add a unique flavour, but there are also random dungeons, piles of loot and monsters aplenty.

Look to the official site for the latest builds and join the Reclaim Roguelike Campaign today. I’ve had this game installed on various hard drives for more than half of my life. I am old. It is good.

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44 Comments »

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  1. zer0sum says:

    I’m completely sucked into Tales of Maj’Eyal as far as roguelikes go these days. The new ADOM graphics look ok tile-wise, but I really like the complex and notated GUI that accompanies TOME. Plus TOME has a pretty nice IRC chatroom integrated into it.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      TOME is absolutely superb – there are so many awesome combinations of abilities and difficult situations to get stuck into, highly recommended.

      I really want to try Dungeonmans as well.

      Dungeons of Dredmor was really fun but I found it quite repetitive after a while.

      I’ve tried steam marines and… that one by the developers of Endless Space(?)… they both seemed fun but I felt they needed a bit more work.

      Any other recommendations?

      • almostDead says:

        Cataclysm Dark Days Ahead, with Colleen’s tileset.

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          Absolutely Cataclysm:DDA
          Although I haven’t played it in a few months – I’m stuck on a laptop at the moment and I find roguelikes without mouse support to be an ordeal to play on laptops, in all the wrong ways.

      • Waltorious says:

        My personal favorite is Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, which has a lot of depth without becoming too complex. All the annoying parts are being streamlined out, so it’s just pure strategy and tough decisions. It’s very much a “you versus the dungeon” game, in the traditional mold, but has awesome features like a varied pantheon of gods, each of which will ask different things and provide different benefits to their worshippers. Big selection of races to play, which affects play style a lot too. I’ve hardly even scratched the surface of the magic system in the game and I STILL love it.

        Caves of Qud is also fantastic, although it’s sadly in an unfinished state right now (devs have said they will continue work on it though). It has a great setting, a huge world to wander in, excellent writing and even an (unfinished) quest line to follow with multiple stages that’s much more interesting than the usual “get the amulet” quest. Also graphics are ASCII only, if that bothers you. I wrote about it on my personal blog, if you’re interested:

        http://waltorious.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/roguelike-highlights-caves-of-qud/

      • tsff22 says:

        Sword of the Stars: The Pit and Rogue’s Tale are good if you’re looking for Roguelikes with “hardcore” style difficulty. Quest of Dungeons is a good “casual” one.

      • malkav11 says:

        DoomRL (which at some point is going to lose the completely unlicensed Doom theme and get crowdfunded as a proper commercial release, but is already fantastic). It feels very much like a top down turn based Doom RPG, with some very innovative features, very accessible systems, an unusual-for-the-genre focused on ranged combat (though there are very viable melee builds involving chainsaws and berserking and such), tons of challenge conducts and special levels, and a lovely tileset by Derek Yu. It’s also significantly shorter than many roguelikes and you stand a pretty reasonable chance of actually winning it within a couple of days on the low difficulty levels, though the aforementioned conducts and the higher difficulty levels will both turn the challenge up -considerably-.

        • crizzyeyes says:

          This. DoomRL is a great roguelike not only because it’s fun, but it shows how different a true roguelike can be without diluting the name like so many modern games do. It plays like an action game with a considerably faster pace than most roguelikes. It captures the feel of Doom quite well, and it rather does feel like you’re playing Doom from a top-down perspective (and while mashing the pause key every second, perhaps).

      • crizzyeyes says:

        I enjoy Incursion quite a bit. It uses traditional D&D mechanics, and has more structured and interesting rooms, in my opinion. It was never finished, but I believe the source code was recently released, so perhaps someone in the community will take the reins.

      • Benkyo says:

        Brogue for the best classic roguelike.

        DoomRL for a ‘combat only’ roguelike with good use of sound and a sci-fi setting.

        ToME is also alright, as is Stone Soup.

  2. speps says:

    Duke Nukem Forever’s actual development cycle (1926-2011)

    That would explain why it was delayed, there was WW2 in the middle of its development cycle…

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      Big Murray says:

      WW2 was actually caused by the development of the game. True story.

      • noom says:

        I heard that up until 1989, both Russia and the US were working on their own versions of it. I understand it caused a lot of tension, as each were concerned about the other making an early release.

        The Nukem Non-Proliferation Treaty also caused some delays I believe.

  3. zind says:

    To this day, ADOM is the only roguelike I’ve ever really clicked with. Rogue was nice, Nethack was fun, Angband was a contender, but I always come back to ADOM, even in the days of the more accessible Dungeons of Dredmor and Binding of Isaac.

    All that said, I still don’t think I’ve ever had a character get past level 15 or so.

    • Tacroy says:

      I bounced off of NetHack because so much of it is just nonsense – why can you only have 26 items at a time? Why can’t you leave the dungeon? Why are there so many boulders? Why the hell is there sokoban?

      • geerad says:

        The item limit is 52 (not 26) because you refer to items by letter, and there are only 52 letters (upper- and lower-case). However, you can carry more if you put them in a bag or other container (as long as you are strong enough to carry all of those things or have a bag of holding). It’s a little arbitrary but it’s not even remotely the most bullshit thing about Nethack.

        You CAN leave the dungeon (go up the stairs on the first level), but it ends the game, because the dungeon is the game. Why can’t you leave Miami in Hotline Miami?

        The boulders are oddly common even in the parts that aren’t caves, and Sokoban is pretty dumb: I’ll agree with you there (but again, if I were giving an award for Most Bullshit Thing in Nethack “Why are there so many boulders?” wouldn’t even be considered for a nomination).

    • The Random One says:

      Have you tried Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup?

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      caff says:

      I agree – ADOM has a perfect RPG feel to me. It’s a tough game, and I don’t really care for the modern graphics / tiles because you lose the sense of scale / dungeon size. But it’s beautiful, rich and detailed underneath it’s ascii skin.

      • JoePerkins says:

        Same here, I don’t care about the graphics at all. Actually I would turn them off when buying it from Steam, the ASCII characters make the game much more imagination-deep.

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    J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    Is anyone else loving Dungeonmans? Whether it’s a true roguelike is up for debate, but I can’t stop playing it.

    • benexclaimed says:

      I love Dungeonmans, and I think in a lot of ways it’s more traditional in its roguelikeness than ADOM.

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      RedViv says:

      Dungeonmans has foom fo days, son.

    • rexx.sabotage says:

      Also: I just checked it out and it’s now on my wishlist, thanks :P

  5. BTAxis says:

    I tried really hard to like ADOM a while ago, because of the more involved quest line it has. In the end I bounced off it just as hard as any other roguelike.

    • Waltorious says:

      If you want a more involved questline, I highly recommend Caves of Qud. It’s simpler to learn than ADOM and many others, but has a fantastic setting and great writing. Sadly unfinished (although the devs have said they’ll return to work on it), but what’s there is great. Try to get past the early caves so you can see some of the really cool content.

  6. rexx.sabotage says:

    First thing I’ve ever bothered to greenlight.

  7. BooleanBob says:

    Where are the laser cheetahs? Whither the blindness-inducing Venetians? It’s no Alphaman I tell thee.

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    Big Murray says:

    Am I the only one seeing Dungeons of Dredmor?

    • Waltorious says:

      The tiles look similar, but the game is much more complex than Dredmor. It can stand against the likes of Nethack, Angband and Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup in terms of its deep systems. I played the old, ASCII version, and had a lot of fun for a while, but I was turned off by some design decisions, like magic and other projectiles only working in eight directions, and the busywork required to keep gods happy. I still prefer Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup for its religion system, but DCSS is defilnitely a straight “you versus the dungeon” game without any sidequests or other content.

  9. tsff22 says:

    I’ve yet to actually play ADOM since the supposedly strict time limit keeps turning me off, but I may actually try it if it makes it onto Greenlight. What can I say? I’m a Roguelike fanatic. I’ve bought Maj’Eyal, the Pit, Dredmor, Rogues Tale and many others.

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    quietone says:

    Yay!

    Next on the list: Noctis V.

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      Harlander says:

      You’ll have to wait for the developer to finish writing the OS to run it on first.

      No, really.

  11. furrymessiah says:

    ADOM was always, always my favorite Roguelike, from back in th day when my poor Windows 95 IBM laptop couldn’t handle much more than that and Final Doom (Loaded from an external CD-ROM drive, no less!). To see that Thomas has not only resurrected it, but updated it, makes me a happy, nostalgic gamer.

  12. NimRast says:

    I found ADOM a fascinating roguelike, and a very polished one. However the food mechanics are ridiculous and stupid. I couldn’t enjoy the game because of them. You can only carry 5 or so rations? really? the cities shops don’t replenish their stock of rations after you buy them? moving to a dungeon already consumes one or two (depending on the distance). You consume food so fast and the food is so heavy and scarce that in some of the bigger dungeons you HAVE TO eat corpses to survive? REALLY?? So much potential lost.

    I prefer games like Angband, Dwarf Fortress, or my all time favourite Cataclysm DDA. But it’s good to see that the *real* roguelike community is finally pushing their games and making them more accessible to the general public. It’s a shame that so many fantastic and extremely detailed games are abandoned and forgotten.

    • Rwlyra says:

      @NimRast

      Food mechanics are not really that ridiculous. Yes – you have to eat corpses (unless you want a challenge run). Where exactly is that “lost potential”? Potential of what? Game is just balanced that way and some corpses give you powerful traits.

      You don’t even need to buy rations in the starting shop and (depending on your STR – trolls get lots/elves have a little) you can carry 2-6 edible items which is a lot more than you initially need. Just dive into the dungeons and eat non-kobold corpses.
      http://www.adomgb.info/adomgb-0-3.html – some food basics. Can’t find the one detailing each race metabolism (trolls literally burn through food, mist elves need an apple a month or so)

    • Suakeli says:

      One of the weirdest reasons to dislike the best roguelike IMO. That’s like refusing to play Bioshock because there aren’t enough ammo vendors and it’s against your morals to pick ammo off the enemies.

      Embrace the flesh of your fallen enemies! Eating ogre corpses may give you strength, dark sage corpses can give literacy to illiterate champions and so on. Kobold and undead meat is poisonous though.

  13. animlboogy says:

    ToME4 has really raised the bar for a modernized, useful roguelike UI. It’ll take a lot to impress on that front, so hopefully the ADOM guys give that a hard look.

    Stuff like Dredmor may seem a lot more polished and modern, but they aren’t representing a fraction of the various actions you can attempt in a more classical roguelike.

  14. espectra says:

    ADOM is in my Steam collection of roguelike games with “traditional gameplay” (turn-based, permadeath, etc.) along with Approaching Infinity by IBOL & my own Mystery Dungeon-inspired game, Voyage to Farland plus several others.

    Check them out & vote (Yes) :)

  15. Wulfram says:

    I mostly liked ADOM because I never felt obliged to grind, which too many other roguelikes do. You can keep moving forward. And generally with an objective that’s more than “kill stuff, get XP, find loot”