Looking for a certain type of Xbox game
March 31, 2024 11:11 AM   Subscribe

I think they're called platformers, my husband is looking for some new options to try on his Xbox One.

He plays a lot of Dead Cells and we've both played quite a bit of Undermine. He also likes Pixel Dungeon, so I think part of the appeal is constantly starting over and finding random weapons, etc. He wants something that's not too character build focused and bonus if it's available free with gold.
posted by Eyelash to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hollow Knight? It's free on GamePass, as are Pikuniku, Bro Force and Gris. Maybe look at Neon Abyss as well?
posted by aramaic at 12:26 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]

Hades is super cool and matches your request quite well, here's the Hades Metacritic page
posted by Perplexity at 12:37 PM on March 31 [5 favorites]

Dead Cells can be called a platformer, and from your description another useful genre search term would be “rogue-like” or “rogue-lite,” which is what you’re describing. Hades and Hollow Knight are big names (deservedly) in that genre, on par with Dead Cells.
Spelunky might hit the spot.
I also hear good things about Ori and the Blind Forest (and its sequel/add-on), though that might be more of a “metroidvania” platformer.
There’s a new Prince of Persia out, which is a side-scrolling combat-focused platformer. Not a roguelike, but may scratch the Dead Cells itch.
posted by TangoCharlie at 12:51 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]

Want to clarify TangoCharlie's response above: Hollow Knight is definitely not a rougelike. It's a metroidvania as well. Would still highly recommend!
posted by Teadog at 12:53 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]

Whoops, thank you. :)
posted by TangoCharlie at 1:03 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]

I love Dead Cells. It's really special mix of 3 genres (like other posters have noted)

2D Platformer - Movement based games usually with jumping and environmental hazards. View is side-on versus top-down.

Metroidvania - A game where you explore areas, unlock character skills, and use skills to open new areas. Often non-linear. Often a subtype of platformer but not always.

Rogue-like (or lite) - a game where you restart at the beginning after death. Usually has randomized levels. Often very challenging to make it through a full run. Very replayable.

Others have recommended the Ori and Hades games both of which I second. Let me throw on there:
Steamworld Dig 1 or 2 - platformers with exploration. Dig 1 has random elements, Dig 2 has more metroidvania style play. Not too challenging.
Celeste - beautiful and challenging platformer with some exploration. No random elements.
posted by Wulfhere at 2:00 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]

I'd recommend search terms like "traditional roguelike" if you're looking for games more like Pixel Dungeon. Roguelites (though some would fight me on this point) usually lean heavily into a game design element called metaprogression - you get resources to make the baseline stats of your character better after each run, which can either be a benefit to help more novice players eventually clear the game, or a padding effort to increase the runtime of the game (essentially requiring you to slowly gain and use these upgrades unless you are incredibly skilled).

Without knowing how far into Dead Cells he's gotten (in terms of difficulty), it's a little difficult to get a sense of what particular flavor of roguelike // roguelite your husband would like. That being said, Have a Nice Death shows as available on Xbox One, and is a delightful (if slightly difficult) platforming roguelite about personified Death experiencing burnout. Revita and Neon Abyss are more shooty, but also fit as a recommendation here.

Hades is highly recommended, and if he likes that style of game I'd recommend Enter the Gungeon as well. If your husband isn't squeamish about body horror, The Binding of Isaac is a further step in that direction, and was very influential on many of the other games listed here.

On the more traditional roguelike axis (a la Pixel Dungeon), Stoneshard would probably be the closest option there. Curse of the Necrodancer is a classic, but the beat-matching in the game may not fit well if your husband likes sitting back and considering things.

A couple of wild cards that are personal favorites, that also appear to be on Xbox One:
Dungeon of the Endless (roguelike exploration meets resource management and tower defense)
Risk of Rain and its sequel (no weapon variety, but tons of characters with different loadouts and playstyles)
posted by isauteikisa at 2:11 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]

On the rogue-like side of things I can't say enough good things about Vampire Survivors. Its slightly its own genre but it hits that whole level up get new weapons, get stronger itch super hard.

Hades was super fun, another vote there and anything. Everything by Supergiant is worth a play though this was there first rogue-like game, they're worth picking up when on sale.

Castle Crashers is also worth looking into. Its a sidescroller beatemup like the arcade machines of old, except with leveling up and other features. Also 4 player coop is pretty great as well if you game together.
posted by Redmond Cooper at 2:20 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, these are some great options and I especially appreciate people taking the time to explain more about genres/search terms! Still reading if anyone has anything else to add.

Without knowing how far into Dead Cells he's gotten (in terms of difficulty), it's a little difficult to get a sense of what particular flavor of roguelike // roguelite your husband would like.

He says he's defeated the hand of the king, whatever that means :)
posted by Eyelash at 3:24 PM on March 31

Action-oriented and challenging in the way 8-bit NES era platformers were: Shovel Knight.
posted by cape at 4:40 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]

Retromation on youtube is a great way to discover new roguelike / roguelite games (the focus is on PC games but the popular ones likely end up cross-platform).

Someone already mentioned Vampire Survivors, another similar top-down action "shoot all the critters in the arena in the arena & use upgrades to survive as long as possible" is Brotato.

Heat Signature & Nova Drift are both great top-down action games with a lot of replayability, but they are PC only.

Aside from platformers, there's a whole genre of roguelike deckbuilders that are definitely worth checking out -- the first one to try would be Slay The Spire which is a turn-based roguelike dungeon crawl that throws out the usual rogue grid movement, inventory management and skills with replaces it with a deck of cards that you improve over the run. Short runs, many hours of replayability. If that turns out to be a good recommendation then Monster Train is also fantastic -- it is similarly very polished and highly replayable, where you tune a deck of cards for turn-based tower defense. Recently there is also Balatro where you start with a deck of cards and need to win higher and higher scores by playing better and better poker hands. The game is all about modifying the rules of the game & your deck. These deckbuilder games all become rather build-oriented on high difficulties, so these suggestions might be missing the mark.

Braid is not what you are asking for, unlike all the roguelike/roguelite games it does not offer replayability, but it is a fantastic brain-bending platform puzzler with handcrafted puzzles where each section of the game introduces a weird new mechanic and then faces you with successively harder puzzles until you master it. Definitely worth playing once. To give a taste, this is a platformer where basically from the start you are given a button you can hold down to rewind time.
posted by are-coral-made at 5:32 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]

New Super Lucky's Tale is an excellent 3D platformer. It's cute and very approachable, but also has some tougher challenges for the completionist. The controls and camera controls feel very natural. It's cute and fun without being overly so; what violence there is (smooshing enemies, boss fights) is cartoonish and wacky. No blood, no gore.
posted by xedrik at 6:01 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]

Spelunky has been mentioned in passing, but it's the game that more or less invented the roguelike platformer game and it's spectacularly well designed. Rogue Legacy is another one which plays very similarly to Dead Cells and is a bunch of fun - it feels very different every time you play.

It's not a roguelike, but Blasphemous is a beautiful platformer (if you're ok with pixelated ick) that I'd recommend to any fan of Dead Cells.
posted by dudekiller at 2:31 AM on April 1 [1 favorite]

Neon Abyss (available on Xbox) is a rougelike 2d platformer with a focus on projectile weapons more than melee (though it has melee as well), and as someone who has played lots and lots of Dead Cells, it scratches a similar itch quite nicely, and has an impressive amount of depth to it.
posted by VeritableSaintOfBrevity at 4:55 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]

I suggest Rogue Legacy and its sequel Rogue Legacy 2. They are quite similar to Dead Cells, but with a fun system that changes your character a bit each play through.

Here's a review to give you an idea what the game is like.
posted by tacodave at 4:55 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]

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