If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Roguelike, Roguelikelike, Roguelikelikelike, Or Rogue?


Rock, Paper, Shotgun have been on the cutting edge of the ludic lexicon since 1873. We coined 'Minecraftbut', 'Zachlike', 'Uppie', and more 'em ups than is reasonable. We were there on the front lines, staring at trees, when 'walking simulator' was seized as positive. And it's only mostly for funsies that we/I distinguish between Roguelikes, roguelikes, and roguelikelikes.

Everyone calls their game a 'roguelike' lately, it seems sometimes. If you're a developer concerned about the serious harm your flippancy may be doing, relax! Simply turn to Ben Porter's tool How Roguelike is your game? and discover whether you've made a Roguelike, a Roguelikelike, a Roguelikelikelike, Roguelikelikelikelike, or just plain Rogue.

Simply go down the list and tick off any aspects found in your game - permadeath, turn-based, hacking and slashing, random environments, ASCII, being named Rogue, and so on - then the handy AND VERY SERIOUS tool will spit out your game's Rogue rating. Then take that finding and correct your marketing materials, you scamps.

Thank Moonman developer Ben Porter for making it, and DoomRL dev Kornel Kisielewicz for inspiring it.

You might think that Porter's deadly serious definitions jump from Roguelikelike to Roguelikelikelike too quickly, but do note that it's Roguelikelikelike - not roguelikelikelike. That capital R warrants an extra 'like'.

'Roguelike' is such a funny term. It had a very specific meaning once, directly referencing the game Rogue. Now the baseline of lower-case-r 'roguelike' is perhaps games which have procedurally-generated levels and minimal exposition, but the term will also sometimes imply any combination of permadeath, dungeon crawling, persistent unlocks, high difficulty, and... you know, I'm not even sure.

It's a word so very bendy and too confusing to throw around without explanation. I like using 'roguelikelike' because it recognises both the historical roots and modern usage yet is so patently silly. And I do try to remember to explain quite what that means, and which roguelikelike characteristics any particular game possesses.

'Roguelite' can do one, mind. It's not 1997, grandpa.

P.S. 'video games' is absolutely two words.

Topics in this article

Follow topics and we'll email you when we publish something new about them.  Manage your notification settings .

About the Author
Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.

Rock Paper Shotgun logo

We've been talking, and we think that you should wear clothes

Total coincidence, but we sell some clothes

Buy RPS stuff here
Rock Paper Shotgun Merch