i spent a couple of decades playing nethack. what's my next roguelike?
December 2, 2019 12:57 PM   Subscribe

so. i've spent like the last 20 years or so getting unnervingly good at exactly one roguelike — that'd be nethack. but i think i'm finally bored of it. what's my next roguelike?

  • the display must be ascii characters on the terminal. i cannot compromise on this
  • likewise, i must be able to use the vim movement keys to move my character. again: there can be no compromise here
  • the gameplay must be relatively varied. there's a reason why, back in the day, i ended up fixating on nethack rather than angband. i fixated on nethack because angband was boring
  • the gameplay must be relatively polished. i know nothing can compete on polish with a game that's been in development for like 35 years, but nonetheless i don't want to invest time in a game that's just kinda janky
  • bonus points if i get to compile it myself
if it helps: other roguelikes i've enjoyed include adom, which at the time i played it sort of failed the no-jank criterion, and legit 100% old-school rogue, which was delightful but which sort of failed the varied-and-interesting-gameplay criterion.

anyway. plz help an old man find a new old game.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Off-the-wall suggestion, maybe Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead It might fail your stability requirement, but is a ton of fun if you approach it as a role-playing sandbox in my opinion. There are enough oddball characters and situations to keep entertainment for quite a while, and it's under constant development. It definitely fits your ASCII/terminal related requirements, or I wouldn't be able to play it.
posted by Alensin at 1:07 PM on December 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

Sil/Sil-Q - Not as varied as Nethack (what is?) but there are a number of character creation/building options, some pretty unique mechanics, very stable, and a classic ASCII aesthetic.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:12 PM on December 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup seems like it might fit the bill. I love both DCSS and nethack, so I can say: get ready for a little adjustment period. DCSS has some very different design goals than nethack. They explicitly try to make it accessible, to remove rewards for un-fun gameplay behavior, and to foster a variety of gameplay styles. So towards the first goal, information on monsters and spells and items and so on is available through the in-game interface. It even shows you which monsters it thinks are going to be particularly dangerous to you. Towards the second, stuff that's tedious they try to automate or make unuseful to do. So there's never going to be anything like hanging around on an altar level for a billion turns or whatever. To the third goal, there aren't the tools nethack gives you that make all endgame kits almost identical. You can't wish for stuff, and you can't control your stats or intrinsics as easily.

Despite the first goal, I think you'll find DCSS has plenty depth and learning curve.

Though it is possible to play in a terminal, I, a nethack player who never could get into tiles, recommend playing DCSS with tiles. Particularly via the web interface. But you can ssh into a public server and play in a shell, or download it and play it locally (either with tiles or with ASCII).
posted by aubilenon at 1:20 PM on December 2, 2019 [10 favorites]

Seconding Dungeon Crawl as a reasonable alternative to nethack. It's been in development for almost 20 years.

And if the ASCII is important you can definitely still play without tiles. And there are lots and lots and lots of species and lots and lots and lots of classes with lots and lots and lots of viable paths to beating the game.

(I'll admit that DCSS is my ASCII rogue of choice, though, because I tried playing Nethack 20 years ago, and it was too fucking impenetrable and I spent a very frustrating weekend dying over and over again. So YMMV.)
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:04 PM on December 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

DCSS also has a thriving community and surrounding ancillary goods, if you’re into that. You can chat with a group while you all watch others play online, use very good knowledge bots or the wiki, post on reddit or the Tavern etc. The tourney just wrapped up but that’s also a big source of engagement and fun.

I’m still not on MeFight Club but one of the main servers (berotato) is run by one of our own, whose name escapes me atm.

DCSS is famously hard almost all the time, whereas NH is critiqued are being fairly easy once you have made an ascension kit and know how to (ab)use Elbereth.

Unlike NH; DCSS is actively evolving. You may dislike the moving target nature but for me, it keeps it fresh and I’m always interested to see a new mechanic or race, god etc. Right now there’s a very interesting ‘positional magic’ overhaul in an experimental branch that seeks to further differentiate blasty magic from mundane ranged combat.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:14 PM on December 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Brogue has some amazing ANSI-type graphics though I think it can’t technically run in a terminal due to advanced glyph processing it does. Your build is directed by what you find, there are no races or classes or backgrounds. It was one of the first to offer seeded play, so you can return to seeds you like or try ones suited for a certain build (DCSS now supports seeds btw, a recent development.)

Anyway of all the modern polished offerings it may be the only one sees itself —and succeeds—as a direct Rogue descendant, but with more rich and varied gameplay. That’s part of why I don’t play it much after checking it out btw, you gotta be super sneaky and clever and adaptable and rogue-ish in mindset, I’m more into combat, strategy and tactics, YMMv.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:26 PM on December 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Have you read through the @Play archives? If there's a game out there for you, I suspect JHarris has written about it.
posted by Sibrax at 3:43 PM on December 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Dwarf Fortress is insanely complex and has roguelike elements, although I think it focuses more on exploration/building.
posted by Pfardentrott at 1:29 PM on December 4, 2019

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