Roguelove: ADOM Is Now Available On Steam

Ancient Domains Of Mystery (ADOM) [official site] is one of the first things I install on any computer I own or borrow. That’s been the case since I first discovered the game around twenty years ago. Created by Thomas Biskup, ADOM is one of the great traditional roguelikes, a combination of randomised dungeon crawling and a hand-crafted overworld. There are scripted sidequests as well as a Big Plot to follow, and there are oodles of character combinations.

It’s now available on Steam for the first time, in enhanced form. I roguelove it.

The Steam version costs £10.00 (with a 10% launch discount ’til November 23rd), which seems like a bargain to me given that I’ve been playing the game for two decades without paying a penny. You can still download the free version but here’s what you’ll get with the new release:

“With an overhaul of the graphics, music, new playable races and classes, over 400 monsters, tens of thousands of items, crafting, magic, religion, corruption, randomized dungeons and so much more, this reimagined version is one of the most in-depth roguelikes on the planet.”

The standard tileset included is fantastic – clear, uncluttered and with plenty of distinct graphics for monsters and items. The ASCII mode is included as well for those who prefer the old ways.

There’s also a meaty tutorial, although anyone who is new to traditional roguelikes may find it a little intimidating. A lot of the tips that pop up go into more detail than seems strictly necessary, informing the player about keybindings they won’t necessarily need to learn thanks to the smart graphical interface. There are a lot of inputs in ADOM but the basics are all right there on the screen – right click on an empty space, enemy, object, door or trap and a list of possible actions will appear. Left click to select one. If you’re hungry, the prompt that appears at the top left of the screen can be clicked to take you straight to your available food supplies.

It’s a wonderful game. Perhaps because I know it so well, I find the opening stages a little too easy (although maybe that’s always been the case?), but the difficulty ramps up fairly quickly. There are so many features I forget about as I’m pottering about in the early stages – the Conway’s Game of Life herb-planting, the multiple endings and the chaotic corruption of player characters, the deity system. It’s such a rich game. And Biskup has no intention of stopping now that ADOM has arrived on Steam.

“ADOM on Steam will take ADOM gameplay to the next level by introducing the following features (among others) in the next couple of months:

70+ achievements,
game customization features (e.g. turning corruption off, increasing treasure rates adjusting monster lethality),
ghost creation and exchange between players – be haunted by dead player characters and try to win their treasures,
story mode – save and reload your games,
exploration mode – use a wand of wishes to discover completely new sides of the game,
challenge mode – try to score highest under complex conditions in weekly challenge games,
shared and global highscores (TBD),
point-based character generation (TBD),
star sign selection (TBD),
cloud bases save files and so much more (TBD).”

There were some issue at launch, including a lack of offline play, which was later confirmed to be an issue with the transition from closed beta to full release. I’m happy as a pig in +1 muck with this new version of one of my favourites. Here’s a full list of what the free version contains in comparison to this new release, and you can find that free version here, with downloads for Windows, Mac and Linux.


  1. Wowbagger says:

    Colour me an interested shade of taupe. I find ascii off putting but this looks graphical enough with the depth I crave too.

  2. Fnord73 says:

    One of the three greatest games ever made.

  3. Technotica says:

    I was just about to buy this but the extremely complicated keyboard commands put me off. I am not sure if the game is worth memorizing a shortcut-library and facing potential finger injury…

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      It is, yes.

    • klops says:

      Extremely complicated?
      k – kick
      i – inventory
      d – drop
      D – drink
      g – give
      p – pay
      z – zap wand
      Z – cast spell

      Ok, there are complicated stuff like:
      , – pick up
      ; – pick up items fast
      Ctrl + p – pick up from a list
      but you don’t need the extended commands. They just make the game lot comfortable after a while. The basics are pretty easy.

      E – “clean ears” is not something you have to think for a long time.

      • Martin Carpenter says:

        I guess there’s probably even macros to help out? Very helpful in Zangband those.

        • klops says:

          You mean macros like ctrl + something? Yes. Lots of those.
          Ctrl, Alt, : + some other key. But most often those combos are extended commands to ease the game, not requirements:
          d – drop one thing from inventory
          : + d – drop all (if I remember correctly)
          Ctrl + d – choose many items from inventory and drop them

          The basic commands are usually one letter.

        • klops says:

          I don’t think those are macros…

          • Martin Carpenter says:

            No, ‘proper’ ones. Normally only sane things like fire a given spell at the nearest monster. Saves a fair key presses, and so sanity, over the lifetime of these games.

            Also ended up scribing spell books with !k!k!d!d!m0 and things :)

          • klops says:

            To my knowledge you can not. However, I Wouldn’t do that if I could, since it would just eventually annoy the cat lord.

            You don’t want to annoy the cat lord.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      and _ for pray I believe but it’s not that bad really as some use to play it hundreds of hours.
      Dwarf Fortress is way harder to understand.

  4. Risingson says:

    I admire all you people that were able to play a roguelike like ADOM or Nethack. Like, really, admire. I find it easier to study a 5-year degree in physics than to learn the mechanics of these games.

  5. Snargelfargen says:

    What’s the gameplay like for someone coming from Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup? Difficulty harder, easier? Is there a lot of inventory management/crafting recipe cruft?

    • Harlander says:

      It’s not as aggressively balanced as Crawl, and I don’t know if it incorporates some of Crawl’s more advanced interface QOL features. Inventory management is pretty straightforward – there’s really only weight. There’s not a lot of crafting – I remember you can boost your alchemy skill to get random recipes for certain potions, but you don’t learn them in the sense that they’re hard-coded. I think you can do stuff with armour crafting too, but I never messed with it.

    • mike2R says:

      If you can play DCSS you can certainly play ADOM, and its different enough to make it worthwhile. I’ve been playing ADOM off and on for almost 20 years, and only recently got into DCSS (not got particularly far in it though). In many ways I prefer DCSS, but ADOM still shines in some ways in comparison.

      In no particular order, some differences that I noticed:

      ADOM has a traditional shop system, so you’ll be picking up tons of crap, deciding what to keep based on value vs weight, and selling tons of it at shops (Personally I really like the DCSS method where shops don’t buy anything, meaning you only pick up what you can make use of yourself).

      No auto-explore in ADOM, which makes me sad going back to it. Though the ‘keep going in one direction until interrupted’ system is a lot better though, and actually keeps going until interrupted.

      Religion is a *lot* more interesting in DCSS.

      So’s magic really, ADOM just doesn’t have the huge range of very specific spells you get in DCSS. Mostly you’ll just be zapping stuff with a variety of flavours of zap.

      Weapons, and items generally, go the other way IMO. Lots of cool stuff, lots of modifiers, lots of interesting unique artefacts.

      DCSS is a hell of a lot more discoverable for the newbie. I think the new ADOM has attempted to address the you-absolutely-have-to-read-spoilers-to-get-anywhere-mear-the-end issue, but its still going to be a factor. An example of this: to get one of the advanced “Ultra” endings, you need to do quite a lot of very obscure extra stuff over a standard game. One of them is that a particular character has to be gifted a particular item. There is a degree of logic linking the character’s situation to the item, but no way of knowing that gifting him the item is something that would have any effect – he appears to fulfil his function without you doing this. If you do gift him the item, he moves to a completely different location, and you need to talk to him there. Hilariously, he always used to be invisible in that location. During development of the new version, that was revealed to be a bug. However no one had reported it since it seemed perfectly in keeping with the discoverability of the game that of *course* he would be invisible.

      The other side of that is that ADOM is a lot more interesting plot-wise. Lots of different dungeons and other locations that you can do in varying order. And some people really do play it blind, and apparently have completed a standard ending that way. It must have taken years, but that appeals to some people. I cannot believe that anyone has ever done an ultra ending without spoilers though.

      ADOM does tend to get easier as you level up, with the occasional very dangerous enemy. Which can get a bit annoying, since I end up mindlessly clearing levels of easy mobs, then hit a nasty one without realising it and get killed by my inattention. DCSS spanks my arse hard later on, which is also frustrating but gives me something to aim to improve at.

      Skills in ADOM level up as you use them, as God intended.

      • zenorogue says:

        Actually, ADOM has auto-explore (w? to explore the unknown locations on this level, w> and w< to go to the stairway). Not as powerful as Crawl's which can lead you to your stash via the closest route, but still.

        • mike2R says:

          Yeah, just bought the Steam version last night, and found that – last one I’d played was was one of the free graphical versions a while back which I’m almost certain didn’t have that feature.

          Having played it a bit again, I think my post above comes off as overly critical. The lack of discoverability is definitely still there, and I suspect the late game levelling issues as well.

          But it is a really nice game to play, I love the graphics (now with character models reflecting equipment, which was missing last version I played), and just how it plays, and the whole atmosphere of the game. DCSS is really a better designed game, I think. But the modern ADOM has more charm.

          • ADOM-Maintainer says:

            And the release after the next probably will feature another huge slow of accessibility improvements, so that new players probably need to learn but 5-10 easily memorizable keys for everything they want to do.

            Naturally all the old keyboard shortcuts will be kept for more advanced players but you then can learn them if you want to ;-) Instead of having to.

    • jrodman says:

      In DCSS, everything more or less makes sense. It may take a bit of time to learn the everything, but it’s a pleasant experience along the way. The game focuses on tactics and risk management. The choice of skill, item, religion, and magic interplay provides a rich soup of successful possibilities with many different flavors of play. The game is designed to feel fair, if tough and sometimes capricious.

      In ADOM, some things make sense and some do not. There are mechanics that feel completely arbitrary to the end (example: killing any type of monster will eventually make monsters of that type more powerful, leading to death by rats.) There are mechanics that are are designed to feel unfair. Players of course do learn to find ways to persevere, so it’s not unwinnable, but it’s out to get you in some ways that a capricious game like nethack or crawl are not. ADOM provides a background tapestry of a world that changes over the course of your adventure. You are on a *specific* quest, not a lightweight challenger to fetch a magic gimlet, but a quest to solve a problem of a sort in the world (though there are more than one possible thing to be done about that problem). As such learning by failure means you are increasingly seeing m ore of that sequence.

      DCSS has a simple streamlined interface. ADOM has a baroque complicated interface. With a pretty picture on top to make it look nicer.

      A lot of the player-demands are similar, but a lot are not. It’s quite hard to say how much your interest will cross over.

  6. klops says:

    Anyone who’s played the Steam version: How fast does the ASCII mode work? In the free versions it was a bit slow compared to all-ASCII ADOM. I mean: before the game had graphics it worked faster than the ASCII mode of the game with graphics. There was a slight delay which was too much for me.

    And and and: would it be possible to play the game graphics on but with full level vision on like in good ole good days before those graphical gimmics?

    Btw. don’t see much sense in the paid version. Ohh, you can turn permadeath off and never get hungry! Or you could just stay away from ADOM since those are pretty much defining the game?

    • Kasaris says:

      Actually, in the game itself, you can press ctrl-m to access the NotEye menu and set things like animations delay.
      You can also switch instantly between ASCII and tiles with f10 which can be used as a map, maybe, because it gives full vision on the level (as ASCII does usually).
      Really, the paid version is more about supporting the dev than getting awesome things ==> link to The core, “real”, game is still free anyway.

      • klops says:

        Yeah, you can, but I don’t mean animation delays. I mean moving. If you moved, you moved slower in graphical ADOM’s ASCII and graphical mode than in the old ADOM’s ASCII mode. There was delay at least couple of versions ago. I’m interested if the newest version of ADOM does that without the delay.

  7. Holysheep says:

    I never heard of this game. How does it compare to nethack (whick I played a lot) for instance? Is it more or less complicated? What are the differences? Cause nethack with a real, modern GUI, with right click menus with options, drag n drop stuff etc, is something I’d really, really want, and this looks pretty nice to begin with.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      It’s easier than Nethack when starting out but still hard to master esp. approaching mid game. In Nethack I always starve at the beginning.
      Like the Zangband branch of Roguelikes it has an overworld (fixed here for story reasons), multiple randomized dungeons of different depths and setting. It has a “plot” and several side quests.
      It has the usual true-roguelike features like possible permanent damage (stats, equipment etc.), unidentified potions and scrolls (including death), cursed equipment and hundreds of ways to die.
      It’s quite similar to TOME before they revised that game entirely (it used to be in middle-earth).
      You should give the free version a try.

  8. OpT1mUs says:

    I tried it , but it feel sooo sluggish compared to something like ToME. Animations have a delay and everything is just slow. Can that be remedied somehow? I couldn’t even concentrate on the game, since I was put off so much by it…

    • ADOM-Maintainer says:

      What kind of system and operating system are you using? For me it’s blazingly fast?

      • OpT1mUs says:

        Dude it’s a roguelike. It’s not a performance problem. The game as a whole just feels slow and sluggish compared to, for example, ToME. Movement animation is slower, attack animation is slower and less smooth etc.

        • jrodman says:

          It’s sort of amusing to hear “come on it’s a roguelike” to me, because I remember reading through the docs of AMoria where it talked about the configurations you could set it up to run depending upon whether you had 1MB, 1.5MB or 2.5MB of RAM. The stock 512KB Amigas that were current then could not run the game at all.

          Being blessed with 4MB and a hard drive (!!) I was able to really speed up the dungeon generation passes.

    • FritzCouch says:

      It runs great for me. Smooth as butter.

  9. Michael Fogg says:

    On one hand I’m happy that my nerdy middle-school passtime is getting so much exposure and recognition due to a Steam release. On the other I wish Biskup et al. made a proper sequel, which would be the ‘rationalized’ roguelike experience that so many people wish for (primarily adressing the accesibility issue outlined by mike2R above). The legacy of being a programing exercise first and a well-balanced game later still remains in ADOM. At some point during the recent years there was actual progress being done on JADE/ADOM II but the idea was put on hold again after the ‘classic ADOM revival’ kickstarter.

  10. FritzCouch says:

    I’ve been playing this game since my teens and I’ve yet to beat it. Despite looking like a basic hack’n slash, it is one of the most mentally stimulating games I have ever played.

  11. lowprices says:

    I just bought it (never played the free version) and it seems to be very buggy. I’ve had two crashes to desktop in half an hour, the direction keys seemingly just reversed at one point, and there seems to be some input lag that occasionally turns up. Is this something a lot of other people are experiencing?

    • mike2R says:

      I’ve just been browsing the official forums, and there do seem to be a couple of serious issues introduced just before the Steam release – there’s a thread with a mea culpa from the dev here:
      link to

      Given how historically stable the game has been, I’m sure they’ll get it resolved, but its shame this happened.

      The reversed keys thing isn’t a bug though – you get a wide variety of special room effects and one of them reverses the keys. Complete list here (spoilers obviously):
      link to

      • ADOM-Maintainer says:

        We truly are ashamed of the instability that crept in on the last yard before Steam. It should be fixed (hopefully, cross your fingers) by tonight. We believe we found the problem and we are right now working on finishing tests for R62 which will be uploaded soon.

        • jrodman says:

          Let me know how the promised source release is coming along!

  12. manio22 says:

    Reminds me of ToMe

    • kalzekdor says:

      Technically, ToME reminds you of ADOM. ADOM came first.

      • jrodman says:

        The word “reminds” indicates temporality for the speaker, not the object.

        It means that the speaker has experienced another thing before that is similar in some way. It does not imply anything about the temporality of the creation of those two things.

        • Llewyn says:

          However usage changes over time and location. In Internet English, “Reminds me of ToMe” is increasingly used as a supposedly polite equivalent to “Looks like a blatant rip-off of ToMe”. Kalzekdor’s comment would be a valid correction to that (mis)use.

          Of course, it being Internet English, we have no way of knowing from the comment alone whether manio22 was being snide or nostalgic.

          • jrodman says:

            Well, in that case, I’d point out “reminds me of rogue”.

  13. caff says:

    I’m one of those weird people that can only love the ASCII original from whence it came, because that’s how I learned it.

    I look at Dwarf Fortress ASCII lovers as if they’re weird, but in reality it’s the same “I was there, man” mentality.

    Still ADOM is great. Once you’ve played it a few times and followed some starting guides, it feels more like Baldur’s Gate on steroids.

    • Martin Carpenter says:

      The concrete argument for the ascii is that it makes it so, so much easier to do interesting things like having absolutely massive lists of monsters/adding new ones in variants etc.

      Throwing hundreds of them at the screen too I guess.

      • caff says:

        The view distance is amazing too. Without affecting FPS too much ;)

      • jrodman says:

        Sadly or gladly depending upon your perspective, variants is not a problem that ADOM will ever have.

  14. shishno2 says:

    I literally saw ADOM on Steam and clicked ‘Purchase’. So happy to add it to my collection, and I’ve got such good memories still from playing it.