Enter the Gungeon is a unique hybrid between bullet hell and roguelike developed by Dodge Roll and released in 2016. The game is regarded as one of the finest examples of roguelikes, and with good reason, the game takes the concept of bullet hells and pushes it to 11.
Games like Enter the Gungeon are easy to pick up but hard to master; if players ignore the game’s mechanics, they’re going to have a tough time for sure. The game plays as a procedurally generated dungeon with pre-built rooms filled with various random enemies and pickups.
Players must clear multiple floors like these to beat the game. In true dungeon crawler fashion, each floor has at least one boss to deal with; bosses generally drop good items/weapons that empower the player to face the next floor as each floor becomes progressively more challenging.
The game even features high replayability using a simple mechanic; sometimes, players might run into NPCs in the dungeon, rescuing these NPCs brings them to the hub world, where they sell players permanent upgrades for their future runs.
Like many roguelikes before it, Enter the Gungeon saw many updates inspired by the community; for example, the Rainbow Mode that ensures each level contains at least one type of unique rainbow chest (They are a rare reward for room clears) was a game mode that was popularized by the community.
Here’s a list of other roguelikes that share elements with Enter the Gungeon.
1. The Binding of Issac
The Binding of Issac is one of the best video games I have ever experienced; it’s a roguelike released in 2011 and developed by one person Edmund McMillen. The game carries serious subject matter for a 2D game that follows a boy shooting tears at monsters living in his basement.
The game begins with a cutscene explaining that Isaac’s mother is a religious fanatic deluded enough to believe God has asked for her son as a sacrifice. Isaac, to save himself, runs to the basement where the monsters surround him.
Despite the depressing tone of the game, it’s entertaining and rewarding to play. The Binding of Isaac features a top-down camera and is structured like Enter the Gungeon, with pre-made rooms in a random order and numbers filled with procedurally generated items and enemies.
At the end of each floor is a boss. The game has plenty of unlockables that players can obtain by finishing various challenges; some challenges are pretty straightforward to get, like winning two floors without taking damage. Some are very challenging, like beating the game’s main boss seven times using the weakest playable character.
The Binding of Isaac embraces its complicated nature. Each floor has one item pickup room, generally, in most games, these pickups are to be picked up blindly, but in Isaac, players shouldn’t be so hasty; some items don’t do much, others might ruin your build.
In addition, there are over 500 unique items to collect, and knowing all of them is an unrealistic expectation, especially from a new player.
This game is excellent, and if you enjoyed Enter the Gungeon, you’d surely love it. However, I’d ask you to research for some newbie-friendly mods so at least you know item descriptions etc., from the get-go and are not lost on your first playthrough.
Spelunky is a 2D platformer roguelike developed by Derek Yu (Yes, another one-person venture) and released in 2008. It’s one of the first 2D roguelikes and ushered in a slew of roguelikes following its release.
Spelunky gives players control of Spelunker, with only one objective in mind; collect treasure and survive while doing so. Players have to explore a network of tunnels in search of treasures while avoiding traps and enemies.
Like Enter the Gungeon, the game divides itself into four areas with progressively increasing difficulty. Players must juggle their resources (namely bombs and ropes) to navigate the tunnels and stay alive. Losing all HP results in a game over, and since all run-throughs involve procedurally generated maps, players don’t have a second attempt.
Spelunky is another easy to pick up hard to master title, and there’s a lot of trial and error involved before a player can make any meaningful progress. Spelunk 2 was released in 2020 to a similarly favorable reception.
3. Crypt Of The NecroDancer
Like Enter the Gungeon is a hybrid of bullet hell and roguelike, Crypt of the NecroDancer fuses the roguelike and rhythm genre; it was developed by Brace Yourself Games and released in 2015.
The game features a top-down view; players control Candence, the daughter of a missing treasure hunter who falls into the crypt while searching for him. The crypt, like titles, previously suggested, is procedurally generated, making each replay unique.
Unsurprisingly, the game plays like a giant dance pad. Players must sync their movements and attacks with the music. Failure to do so results in the coin multiplier resetting to zero and leaves Candence vulnerable to attacks. So, the core gameplay loop revolves around memorizing the music pattern and the move-set of the enemies.
Like Enter the Gungeon, there is a hub world where players can use diamonds acquired in runs to investing in permanent upgrades making subsequent playthroughs easier.
Crypt of the NecroDancer is a unique title with a mix of genres that can’t really be matched in any other title imaginable. It also features a compelling story about family and supporting each other.
Enter the Gungeon players will enjoy this one, although I’d point out the learning curve is much steeper than what they previously experienced.
4. Nuclear Throne
Nuclear Throne is the closest thing to Enter the Gungeon because it combines the same genres, bullet hell and roguelike. The game was developed by Vlambeer and released in 2015.
Nuclear Throne features a top-down camera and allows players to select ten different unlockable characters to play as each has its ability. These abilities accommodate different playstyles adding a layer of gameplay missing from Enter the Gungeon and making it less repetitive.
In addition, the game has a light RPG mechanic that allows players to pick up various mutations from enemies altering their power levels. Past level 10, players are granted a unique modification specific to the character they choose to play.
These features combined with procedurally generated levels make it more replayable than Enter the Gungeon; while both games are great, I find myself gravitating towards Nuclear Throne for repeat playthroughs.
5. A Wizard’s Lizard
A Wizard’s Lizard is a top-down roguelike developed by Lost Decade Games and released in 2014. The game looks to have taken a lot of inspiration from The Binding of Isaac, so much so that if it weren’t for the distinctly different art style, one might get confused between them.
The game puts players in the shoes of a pet lizard whose owner is kidnapped by death, and it is the players’ job to save him. A Wizard’s Lizard plays a lot like Binding of Isaac with similar controls and approach to game design with one difference; players are tasked with restoring a town that they can do so by rescuing various NPCs in the dungeon. This adds a layer of mechanics missing in Isaac (not that I think Isaac should have it).
In addition, rebuilding the town grants access to better weapons and armors; players are also tasked with restoring the museum with artefacts and legendary weapons.
The game is not as deep or complex as The Binding of Isaac, and I’d recommend this to people who are having trouble getting into the genre because of the punishing difficulty; specific mechanics in A Wizard’s Lizard make it a less tedious effort.
6. Diehard Dungeon
A relatively less known roguelike title, Diehard Dungeon, was developed by Tricktale and released in 2012. It features a 2D top-down perspective; the gameplay is similar to other roguelikes on the list, with players diving into procedurally generated dungeons, collecting better items and fighting challenging mobs.
The game differs because it features a dynamic difficulty scaling, meaning like A Wizard’s Lizard, this game is more for newcomers to the genre, but that’s not to say it’s an easy game or that veterans won’t have a hard time.
Still, the game does go easy on players who are not doing so well. So again, I’d recommend this to people who are looking to get into the genre.
7. Neon Chrome
Neon Chrome is a mix and match of roguelikes and Hotline Miami. The game was developed by 10tons Ltd and released in 2016. It features procedurally generated levels, and unlike most games that revolve around going deeper into a dungeon, Neon Chrome sees players ascending a corporate building in a dystopian cyberpunk setting. The final boss of the game resides on the top floor.
Neon Chrome features the most appealing visuals of any game on the list. The environments light up in a vaporwave aesthetic featuring many barrels and enemies to blow up.
However, I find it baffling that this game is still relatively unknown and doesn’t have a good score on various review websites, which I find very odd.
If you enjoy games like Hotline Miami or want a faster-paced roguelike, Neon Chrome is the one for you.
I have always enjoyed roguelikes more than the standard linear experiences of AAA gaming.
Instead of handholding players and letting them know what they have to do using text on screen, roguelikes encourage players to understand the mechanics for themselves and experiment with them. Roguelikes have always been a more rewarding experience. (at least for me).