Have You Played… Pixel Dungeon?

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

I admit that I’ve spent most of my time with the amazing rogue-lite dungeon explorer on my phone, rather than on PC, but Pixel Dungeon is same experience on both, and absolutely splendid.

Taking a minimalist approach to the sub-genre, Pixel Dungeon is actually truer to its Rogue origins that just permadeath. Here potions and spell runes change their colour or symbol for each new game, and while there is one little bonus addable for each of the four classes on a restart, it’s minor and death really means death.

Life, meanwhile, means seeing how deep down the dungeon you can reach before you meet your end. Shops appear every five floors, and when you first start playing, just reaching the fifth floor will seem exasperatingly unlikely. Get to grips with it all, and not reaching the 15th will be disappointing. Getting deeper becomes extremely difficult, but you’ll get there eventually. It’s so immediately and compellingly replayable, and best of all, it’s completely free software, so you can get at the source code and start making your own version. Many have, with a bunch of variations available on Android.

The original version is on Itch for free, or there’s a much embellished and splendid build available on Steam for just £4.


  1. meepmeep says:

    Get to grips with it all

    See, I’ve played this a lot on the Android version and I’ve never got past floor 3. I’m failing to understand what there is to get grips with, the gameplay is minimal and I’m obviously missing something as I don’t understand what I need to do differently.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      Hmm. I’m not the best at it, but have gotten through a few bosses – my tip would be search every possible square of a level before moving on, the goodies you collect on early levels are so important. Also working out what potions and spells are early on (by quaffing/using them). Best to try this when in a fairly safe location, with good health and near a water source in case they set you on fire (happens a lot). Otherwise practice and working good approaches to stuff. Using doors as a bottleneck when a number of enemies attack, if you can get them coming through a door at you they kindly line up one after the other for a pummelling rather than swarming you. Most of all thought it’s the classic Roguelike requirement: a massive dose of luck. Get a good weapon early on and enough strength potions to wield it, it makes allll the difference. Luck required, but again clearing every room ups your chances of finding such things.

      Great game.

  2. giantmarc says:

    I played this game and beat it with a few classes but overall found it to be not that special. It didnt present enough new situations on subsequent playthroughs. I thought Brogue, which inspired this and is on tablets and pc (not phones), was much more interesting. My current phone roguelike is Pathos which is based on Nethack but is actually friendly to beginners thanks to all the information you need to play being presented in game. Nethack with training wheels basically.

  3. Neutrino says:

    I tried this and found that the scarety of food made it too arbitrary. You have to explore each level in order to acquire the levels necessary to be able to survive when you descend, but there is so little food and what you have runs out so quickly that I found I would literally run out of food on level 2 or 3 before I could find the exit and descend.

    I never got very far with it but it also seemed to lack the diverse range of environments, challenges and equipment of something like Brogue.

    • giantmarc says:

      I forgot about the food. Probably half of my deaths were against the first boss (level 5?). I knew i couldnt defeat him going in with my level/equipment but had no choice but to fight as i didnt have the food to grind another level. That early a single level would have made a big difference. Hes probably the hardest boss honestly.

      Brogue has the best level layout generation algorithm ive ever played. It makes all other roguelikes ive played (not a ton, mostly on phones) seem monotonous to explore.

    • Chuckaluphagus says:

      I play this on my Android devices, more than I’d like to admit. I don’t often have situations where I’m running out of food – there’s guaranteed to be at least one piece of food per level, and that’s almost enough to keep you going. You will often need to buy one or two “small rations” from a shop on the way down, or subsist on healing potions/green seeds in place of food during rough patches, but starvation shouldn’t be a major concern.

  4. Hensler says:

    I’ve tried this and liked the idea of it, but just couldn’t get into it. I’d love to have some good rogues, rpgs, or other games with depth on my mobile though besides the freemium multiplayer crap is inevitably found at the top of the charts. I’ve been “playing” a lot of interactive fictions and visual novels as of late – any other recommendations? Maybe something like Pixel Dungeon but… better?

    • giantmarc says:

      For mobiles: Cavern is a good mobile roguelike and very easy to learn. Probably the easiest to pick up and play. Im still learning Pathos but am really impressed with it. Powder is also really good but its UI icons for phone can be confusing to learn.

  5. konondrum says:

    I play it on Android pretty frequently, and just yesterday managed to finally beat it (with a berzerker). Now I have to try the other classes.

  6. aRGeeBee says:

    I played a lot of pixel dungeon and my number one problem is the control scheme. While it’s very accessible, my number one cause of death in this game is misclicks. It happens too often that I try to press the “fight” button but it registers my touch on the map, sending my character hurtling through the dungeon as a faster enemy beats her to death.

  7. elnicky says:

    Thanks for this. Just got this on my phone and it seems great. Really nice to have some Mame/Android-related recommendations recently. Personally I’d love to see more of them as (largely from viewing this site) I’m fairly well versed in good PC releases, but less so about Android/obscure arcade games (largely as 99.9% of phone games seem to be awful). I know this is a PC site, but as you did a board games thing for a long time, I don’t think this is so far removed.

  8. grimdanfango says:

    I sorta-liked this when I played it… *then* found out it was essentially a bare-bones tribute to Brogue, gave Brogue a try, and was absolutely blown away!

    Seriously, skip this and go straight for Brogue. It really isn’t any more complex to learn or play, it’s just massively more deep, balanced, and nuanced. A sublime and engrosing experience :-)

  9. ironman Tetsuo says:

    Pixel dungeon has been on my phone for the last 4 years, I’ve loved watching it grow with every update, it’s a real labour of love and I don’t think I’ll ever un-install it

  10. Raoul Duke says:

    As a PC game, it’s pretty average.

    As an Android game, it’s by far the best game I’ve been able to find for the platform.

  11. tour86rocker says:

    Yes, Brogue is way better. Pixel Dungeon is way too simplified, it comes across as more random arbitrary than most Roguelikes (which are to some degree random).