Have You Played… Brogue?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

You hear combat in the distance.
You feel a sense of loss.
You hear something die in combat.

Brogue is a freeware roguelike with attractive ASCII graphics, intuitive mouse controls, and monkeys who will steal your heart and your portions.

Why are you still here?

Oh, I can go on. I love how it looks. ASCII graphics are normally plain even if they’re readable, but Brogue simulates gases and liquids in a way that fills your screen with colour and makes each level of its procedural dungeon come alive.

I can say more. I love its unidentified potions and scrolls. They’re common features in traditional roguelikes, but here their effects are more fun than fatal. Your allies will turn into enemies and vice versa, the ground beneath you will collapse and send you tumbling downward, the entire map will be revealed in a shimmering light, high level enemies of all kinds will be spawned in every corner. These are complications, but the effects are beneficial or funny often enough to make a mysterious swig often too delicious to pass up.

I could do this all day. I love its mouse controls, which sit as an option alongside keyboard shortcuts. The advantage of the mouse is that you get descriptions of everything as you hover over and click on objects in the scene, meaning there’s never any need to be stymied by an as yet unseen glyph.

I can’t stop. I love its monkeys, the game’s mischief makers. You’ll find them scurrying around on early levels, but they’re difficult to kill because by the time they’ve stepped within melee range, they’ve probably already nabbed something from your pockets and run away again. Best to avoid them where possible, unless you come across one being held prisoner in a cage by some industrious kobolds. Wipe out the captors, open the cage, and the monkey may become your sidekick – a faithful ally who’ll fight by your side, dutifully leap off cliffs to keep pace with you and, yes, tragically perish in your defence. I feel a sense of loss.

Play it play it play it.

19 Comments

  1. Gothnak says:

    I played it for the first time after a friendly commenter suggested it in a comment in a previous ‘Have you played’. It’s what i was looking for, a simple but deep roguelike without massive skill trees etc which the new ones seem to put in.

    Just be a blooming roguelike with loads of weapons, items and enemies, that’s the cool bit!

    • SubmarineRocket says:

      Hello again, glad you liked it! I first heard of Brogue from some random guy on a girl’s Facebook status, who eventually unfriended me when her whole status ended up just being the two of us talking about how cool Brogue is. :p

      I’m always really surprised by how solid Brogue’s most basic mechanics are, and how surprising it is. You can hide behind a corner and get a surprise attack on a monster, in the same way as hiding in the dark or moving in long grass can give you a surprise attack. What other roguelike has something so intuitive?

  2. twaitsfan says:

    Brogue is phenomenal and you can get mobile versions of it too. It’s gorgeous.

  3. Synesthesia says:

    so, so good. My record at work was level 16 I think, with 3 tamed Ogres. Some stupid error killed me. Someday i may beat it, the stealth mechanics are a bit over my head yet, I can’t stop completely exploring every level, even after they become more dangerous.

    Any experienced player tips?

  4. Bfox says:

    “and your portions.”

    portions of what?

  5. Ishy says:

    My favorite game to play during lunch break. Those damn spiders, grr! As I recall there were regular seed challenges on their forums, with people competing spoiler-free with the same generated dungeon.

  6. Flavorfish says:

    One of my favourite games of all time. I recommend everyone trys it, regardless of if they like roguelikes or not.

    I recommend the Oryx tileset: link to oryxdesignlab.com
    It’s gorgeous and very minimalist, so it offers easier readability of the map without disrupting your imagination. Brogue is a gorgeous game.

    The actual gameplay is where it shines though. I don’t want to spoil anything because half the fun is in discovery, but the game is littered with intricate mechanics that work together to tell great emergent stories.

  7. aoanla says:

    Brogue is a glorious thing, and has so many little aspects (enemies getting health bars, for example, which are ordered by which one you’re targetting) and presentational things (the shimmer of water when you move around, just done with shading) which really make it a joy to play compared to many roguelikes.
    It’s also a great advert for what making a game because you need one can result in – the author wrote Brogue because he lost his copy of Rogue in a robbery, but the result is one of the best roguelikes (not roguelikelikes) currently still actively developed.

  8. NMorgan says:

    When will RPS review Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead? It’s another glorious and deep roguelike that’s gone completely under the radar. Post-apocalyptic, open world, sci-fi, huge crafting system, massive character customization, hefty number of skills. Price? None. It’s open source. Jesus, RPS. Why aren’t you ever-aware of every single game ever made? What is wrong with you?

  9. SubmarineRocket says:

    Oh, one of the coolest things about Brogue is that the community has weekly contests on the forums ( http://brogue.createforumhosting.com ). They give you a world seed, you enter it and play as far as you can, and then compare scores.

  10. Lionmaruu says:

    on the same page as brogue there is Angband with its tolkien’s silmarilion based world! and if you liked brogue you may want to go for it, it is harder in some ways but it is my favorite rogue-lie from all time!
    the oficial site with download link for windowns and whatever else: link to rephial.org
    the community site with forum and variants: link to angband.oook.cz

  11. Shardz says:

    Great game, needs tiles pack option, though! :D

    • John O says:

      If there’s a rougelike that does not need a tile pack it’s Brogue. It’s actually rather pretty.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        This. I might not like Brogue much but it sure is gorgeous. It’s kind of sad that no other ascii roguelike has really even tried to look this good. I suppose Dwarf Fortress does in a way, and Ultima Ratio Regum (did I get that right?) is coming along lovely, but they’re both taking their time and they’re not really classic, focused, single-dungeon romps like Brogue.

        Fortunately for me, the upcoming Cogmind looks set to take Brogue’s crown when it comes to making ascii look absolutely stunning.

        • fylth says:

          While I would generally agree that the game is gorgeous as it is, I can no longer play without the Oryx tile-set. It’s melds ascii with tiles beautifully and really adds to the experience

  12. Sigvatr says:

    Monkey thieves have been in NetHack for decades.

  13. guygodbois00 says:

    Dunno, me Connacht brogue wasn’t much in vogue…

  14. Gobbopathe says:

    Finally I registered to comment for the first time here, alleluia. As everybody wrote Brogue is gorgeous. I’m surprised still that nobody highlight the major gameplay feature : no XP, no level, you can sneak around without penalty. the only way to go stronger is to pick up scrolls of enchantment to enchant your gear. And you can get every item the game propose from the very first level. And yes, it is still a balanced game !

    A victorious run of mine here (link to youtube.com) if you’re curious (but sadly, I’m a frog)