Roguelookalike: ASCII-y FPS Illuminascii Released

Some parts look cooler than others. This: pretty cool.

Many games bear traces of Rogue and Roguelikes in their modern shells – your modern roguelikelikes like The Binding of Isaac and Spelunky – but they’re usually bits like procedurally-generated levels, mysterious items, and permadeath. New roguelikelike FPS Illuminascii [official site] also takes into its modern shell ASCII graphics.

It’s a strange mish-mash of 3D and ASCII symbols, where the player character is a 3D @ character (of course) and enemies are also characters, while guns are made of ASCII art and levels can be too. You can see for yourself, as the game launched last night.

Illuminascii is a roguelikelike FPS set in a sci-fi world mixing primitive 3D and ASCII art. In roguelikelike fashion, weapons, levels, potion-like energy drinks, enemies, and so on all have random touches. That giant hovering letter you’re facing might be… who even knows? An Infected Bishop, Terrifying Corpse; Generic Video Game, Satanic Cockroach, Insane Cricket Bat… it’s both randomised and a bit, you know, ‘random’.

The game’s out on Windows, Mac, and Linux for £7.99 on Steam, where the first few user reviews are looking not wholly impressed. Here’s the launch trailer with a text-to-speech Misfits cover:

This second video’s a year older, and therefore shows the game quite incomplete, but is perhaps more informative:


  1. Cinek says:

    Looks like a great idea. Only… these solid, low-poly 3D buildings, walls and other objects like that are kind of weird. They could have done them like the rifle – with very dense ASCII. Eg. the headline screenshot – one where everything is made of ASCII looks like a by far the best portion of the game. IMHO everything should look like that… unless there’s some reason story-wise to have mixed solids with 3D ASCII.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      I guess I need to see more of it, but it doesn’t seem to be committing itself to the theme too much and certainly not to a consistent art style.

  2. Freud says:

    I think ASCII was used as a necessity by those that couldn’t do graphics. Trying to emulate the look when you don’t have to is silly.

    • Zanchito says:

      Although you’re right about the first part, using ASCII now (outside of lack of technical resources or expertise) is simply a creative decision. Just like novels were the only way to keep stories back then, and there are still plenty of people using them despite there being movies, radio and other more effective media.

    • Janichsan says:

      Do you say that also about black and white movies?

      • Birras says:

        Well, I mean, plenty of people -do- say that. It didn’t stop a silent, black and white movie from getting the Oscar for best picture in 2011.

      • Freud says:

        Black and White movies today have the same clarity as movies with color so your analogy doesn’t work. They don’t record feature movies on Super-8 for a retro look.

        • Phasma Felis says:

          And this game isn’t actually emulating a circa-1980 text display with a strict 80×24 character grid.

  3. GallonOfAlan says:

    Eee it’s like being back on the Commodore Pet.

  4. syllopsium says:

    I am a roguelike fan; the point of them though is to be turn based. The best roguelike FPS is probably DoomRL – funny and great to play.

    This.. I can see the potential, but I’m just not attracted to the idea of a moving 3D J firing at you

  5. hprice says:

    First reminded me of 3D Monster Maze on the ZX81. Now that WAS a scary game. You were stuck in a “3D” maze with a Tyrannosaurus Rex (made out of ascii characters) and had to try and find the exit (all the time terrified that the 16K Ram pack might wobble at any moment, and you’d have to spend the next 10-15 mins loading the game again).

  6. Text_Fish says:

    There was a mod for Quake 1 that rendered the entire game in ASCII. Can’t seem to find it now. Somebody needs to invent something better than Google.

    • basilisk says:

      The mod is called ttyquake for Q1 and aaquake2 for Q2. I have only found rather poor footage of the latter.