So I’ve been playing a lot of “roguelikes” on my XBox One recently (Brig Bother, add me!!!).
Roguelikes are based on an 1980 game called Rogue, a dungeon crawling adventure from 1980 played with ASCII art, the main ideas being procedurally generated levels (basically: random, but within certain creator-defined confines), monsters and treasure, and importantly permadeath – you die, you start right back at the beginning – you have to learn from your mistakes. These games also have a winning condition – defeat the big bad at the end of the last level.
Modern roguelikes have a fun mechanic in that although you start from scratch after dying, you might have unlocked some of hundreds of different objects, each with various effects which then may or may not turn up in future runs. Every game is different, if you’re fortunate the random number generator favours you with excellent items and weak monsters, sometimes it hates you. The Binding of Isaac and Dead Cells are undoubtably the cream of the genre at the moment, although we’re currently also addicted to Ironcast (a steampunk tile matching game) and Rogue Legacy, which has a neat passing-your-genes-on mechanic. And also Crypt of the Necrodancer (and direct Zelda spin-off Cadence of Hyrule) takes the ideas and puts it to an incredible beat. And Slay the Spire!
Is this an untapped genre for TV formats? Knightmare is an obvious example of what is basically what a roguelike could look like. But what about quizzes? 1 vs 100 (the original version of the format) basically fits doesn’t it? One contestant goes on a run and either succeeds in glory or crashes out never to be seen again. Millionaire is almost a roguelike I reckon, but falls down in being able to walk away. Randomize the lifelines and make it all or nothing though…