Venerable roguelike ADOM gets major, near-final update


Ancient Domains of Mystery – ADOM, to its friends – has been kicking around for a good long while. A complex and traditional roguelike in the vein of Nethack, where everything seems to interact with everything else on some level, and death seems inevitable without extensive trial and error.

The past few years have been treating this old workhorse well. While traditionally freeware, it returned to full development thanks to sales of a Deluxe edition of the game via Steam, and a crowdfunding drive, giving paying players access to new builds early. Now a major new update for the game has just rolled out for everyone, bringing all players free and paid alike up to the same point.

For those who haven’t played ADOM since the days of ASCII, it feels almost like a new game, and significantly more accessible thanks to an in-game tutorial and a mouse UI that, while still using some text-based screens, allows for much more intuitive play overall. That’s not to say that this is an easy or forgiving time; ADOM is notoriously cruel and difficult and will require extensive play and practice to learn just how hard you have to push to complete the game before the creeping tide of chaos warps and mutates your character into uselessness.

While the majority of the changes since the last major version (2.3.8) are bugfixes, there are quite a few new additions to the game which you can see detailed in full here, including 46 new artifacts to discover and several new scripted quests scattered around the game-world. Probably the most worrying addition is the ominous sounding ‘Ultimate Nihilist Ending’, which I can only presume is a less than cheerful way to end the game, and the patch note “Tone down the frequency of vomiting darkness” doesn’t bode too well either.

Developer Thomas Biskup’s blog mentions that ADOM ‘classic’ as it stands will still receive some support and possible bug-fixes from this point on (as will the Deluxe version on Steam), but he’s now focused primarily on a sequel, Ultimate ADOM. While his plans for the next game sound perhaps a little over-ambitious (multiple variants of the game across multiple platforms sounds like a lot to handle), I wish him the best of luck, and can’t wait to see what comes of the project over the coming years.

This new version of ADOM Classic is free for all, and you can find it on IndieDB here. There is also the commercial Deluxe edition on Steam for £11/$15, which adds difficulty customization, daily challenges and global scoreboards, although no real additions to content or interface otherwise.


  1. Ghostwise says:

    New quest – whosoever fixeth the “it’s” on the first line of the article gets a keyboard +1, +3 vs. bards.

  2. kinglog says:

    So happy to see ADOM get some love here!

  3. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    Wow, the last time I played ADOM it looked 16-bit. That screenie up there is trés sexy though.

    • Tacroy says:

      Yeah at this point the version of ADOM on Steam is nearly as accessible as Dungeons of Dredmor, but is as deep and complex as it ever was.

  4. caff says:

    Love ADOM.

  5. April March says:

    Wow, ADOM looks so different from the last time I played it. I don’t mean the graphics, I mean all the races and classes. It’s starting to look like Dungeon Crawl, which these days is my favourite classic roguelike by a long shot.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      ADOM’s always had a pretty wide smorgasbord of race/class types available. But I still almost always played a wizard…

  6. JD Ogre says:

    Huh. I haven’t played ADOM since v1.0.0 – or whichever version it was that added the bug dungeon with the really, really fast and hard-hitting light green I’s…

  7. Neutrino says:

    Is it possible to use ranged weapons without having to be on a horizontal or vertically aligned grid square? I bought this but found ranged weapon usage really offputting compared to Tales of Maj’Eyal.

    • Improper says:

      Yes, you can shoot in all directions. Range and damage might be limited by your character’s skills, equipment, class and so on. I haven’t played much of ToME (well not lately, it used to be an Angband variant of a variant called Tales of Middle-Earth before they reworked it, maybe it’s high time I try it again!) so I’m not certain what you’re comparing it to.

      ADOM can take a long time to really get used to all the different features it has, it’s a downright masochistic experience sometimes but also very rewarding when you make it through a hurdle that killed dozens or hundreds of characters before. It’s understandably not everyone’s cup of tea, however if you feel like it I encourage trying different class and race combinations, custom difficulty and such.

  8. level12boss says:

    For those still on the fence about this one, I’m happy to say that this update kicked ADOM off my shelf of yet-and-perhaps-never-to-be-played-Steam-games. It’s been a bit of a leap for me as I’ve generally enjoyed the more graphical and forgiving roguelikes including Dungeons of Dredmore and Shiren the Wanderer (both of which I’ve beaten several times) and action roguelikes (Diablo, PoE).

    Overall I’m liking ADOM Deluxe with about 20 hrs of gameplay in the last two weeks, and around 8 dead characters to my credit (current and best being a level 13 human archer (level cap being 50)). Simply put, this game is a pure distillation of all your favorite roguelike tropes and conventions, and well worth a play if you’ve been curious about it in the past, or are nostalgic for an old-school experience that still holds up.

    That said, I do foresee two game design choices that standout as a little anachronistic, and which are quickly becoming tiresome to deal with.

    First is the mostly invisible and unpredictable difficulty scaling of MOBs. On one level of the dungeon you’ll two-shot a doppelganger while on the next level the evidently exact same MOB will be an order of magnitude stronger and considerably more deadly. I’m OK with difficulty being driven by randomness, but dying to one of these MOBs feels like a real rip-off. In fairness to the gamer there’s got to be some obtainable cue that the ocean you are facing today is different than the kiddie pool you tipped over yesterday. Something as rudimentary as the World of Warcraft “green yellow red gold-elite” relative threat indicator would suffice, for example.

    Second issue relates to a few quality-of-life game design decisions that add nothing but repetition without interest or challenge. Playing as an archer, for example, my starter fletching tools only give me 4 or 5 attempts at creating arrows (producing 3 to 12 at a time). This is a rather modest amount of ammo when I’ve probably killed 400+ MOBs by now. After that the entire raison d’etre of my ranged class is on hold until I either randomly find more fletching tools (note: in 20 hours I’ve never randomly found fletching tools) or cheese the game to get roving bands of super-weak MOBs to chase me around for 30 minutes, shooting at me and dropping arrows to be picked up later. I get that roguelikes are an economy of pain and failure, but in this example I’m not facing failure, nor is it hard just for the sake of being hard. It’s just… cheesing the game for 30 mins. Wasted time.

    These old legacy design decisions aside, I’m generally liking the ADOM experience and now really keen on what the Dev has up his sleeve for this new Ultimate version.