It’s unlikely that Risk of Rain went under any roguelike fan’s radar. It was developed by Hopoo Games and released in 2013 to great praise. To briefly summarize, Risk of Rain was a co-op 2D platformer that featured Metroidvania like level design and roguelike gameplay.
The game drops the players on an alien planet full of hostiles with no direction to go. There is a sense of pace to the game as the difficulty scales with time, so the players must be quick on their feet to gather procedurally placed loot that essentially boosts their stats, allowing them to combat the ever increasingly difficult enemies.
The primary goal for each player is to traverse the levels as quickly as possible before the enemies can overpower them. Games like Risk of Rain demand attention to the game’s mechanics; improving is the only way forward.
Sever years later, Hopoo Games released the sequel to this beloved game. Risk of Rain 2 features the mechanics of the previous game translated to a 3D world. It’s interesting to note that this was never the plan during the initial development of the sequel.
Instead, the developers saw fan art for their game that inspired them to change the course and develop Risk of Rain 2 in a 3D environment.
That’s not all that got changed; while the developer imported several playable characters, enemies and items to the new game Hopoo Games also added new content to keep the game fresh.
The game was released in early access in 2019 and received positive feedback from fans of Risk of Rain. In 2020 the game was officially released and has since sold over four million units just for PC. Here are some titles that share mechanics similar to Risk of Rain 2.
I find it strange that Ziggurat never exploded into popularity. Ziggurat is an FPS roguelike with RPG mechanics. It plays like a tight and responsive version of old doom with even more fast-paced action and randomly generated levels and items.
However, even though it has RPG elements, it’s not like you will ever have to stop to compare items and check their stats buffs, debuffs etc. Instead, the choice of equipment is pretty straightforward, and the RPG mechanics are limited to perks that allow you to trade stats essentially.
So, for example, you could exchange some of your HP pool for Mana pool, or perhaps something more influential like trading drop rates of items to refill ammo.
The game shines as a first-person shooter, the controls are fluid, and the gameplay is polished. Visually the game looks like a fantasy, and the weapons feel like they belong to the world; for a 2014 game, it doesn’t look half bad.
Ziggurat keeps players on their toes with always having a random level generation; not every playthrough is fair; however, like any roguelike of this nature, now and then, the RNG gods smile on you, and you get the run that’s unfair to the enemies. This game is worth it for any roguelike fan, but the game is not co-op, sadly.
2. Deep Rock Galactic
Deep Rock Galactic is an example of early access done right as rare as they are. Ghost Ship Games’ first-ever title stayed in early access for only two years before releasing in 2020. I wouldn’t be leaning towards calling it a roguelike, though; it’s a first-person co-op game that features procedurally generated caves that the players must mine and explore.
The co-op aspect works by assigning each player a unique class, each with its own mechanics to master, allowing versatility in gameplay and, more importantly, defined roles for the team members. The classes themselves are not uncommon; an engineer, a gunner, a driller and a scout the usual suspects.
The players are given objectives ranging from mining for a specific mineral to stealing an alien egg. Of course, the aliens are not happy you’re on their planet, let alone stealing their eggs, so they are standard enemy players will have to deal with. Aside from the main objectives, players can also choose to pursue side objectives that can fasten up the progression.
If you’re looking for an easier to get into co-op game with a lot of replayability Deep Rock Galactic might be worth looking into; however, it’s not nearly as difficult or complex as Risk of Rain 2.
3. Wizard of Legend
Another underrated title that surprisingly never took off. Looking at it now, it’s very much like Hades in terms of gameplay and the bird’s eye camera; however very lacking in content in comparison. Wizard of Legend was released in 2018 and has maintained positive reviews despite not being a prevalent title.
Wizard of Legend plays as a 2.5D roguelike dungeon-crawler with enough content to justify its price tag. The gameplay consists of quick and responsive combat, but players can mix up the gameplay using spell combinations and synergies that come in the form of unlockables.
The game features pixelated retro graphics that work well for the setting and makes it easy for the player to keep track of what’s going on the screen, a gripe I hold for Hades. There is also a local co-op mode that allows players to play together or even against each other.
I can’t recommend it over Hades unless co-op is a must for you. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its charms, it’s a bloody good game with content still being added with updates, but if you haven’t experienced Hades yet, I suggest checking that out first.
4. Prey (Mooncrash expansion)
Prey is my favourite video game ever made. I am not saying that it’s the best game ever to exist, but it ticks all my checkboxes for a story-driven RPG with complete freedom given to players to explore and achieve objectives as they see fit.
In 2018, the Mooncrash expansion was released for Prey; the premise is simple, players must take control of four survivors of a spaceship as they dodge the Typhon (the main enemy of the base game) and help them escape.
Now, of course, being built on Prey’s engine, it runs smooth and looks fantastic. The unique aspect of this expansion is as players take control of a survivor and successfully manage to make their escape, the next survivor will have to run the same level with the repercussions of the first survivor’s actions, and so the cycle continues. Players beat the game by having all survivors escape in the same run.
It’s honestly a game inside of a game; Prey is relatively on the cheaper side now. It’s a full-fledged RPG game with a minor roguelike DLC.
5. Killing Floor 2
It might seem random at first, but Risk of Rain 2 and Killing Floor might share more than you think. They are both co-op games that require players to beat a level to progress, and spending too long on a stage makes enemies stronger.
By stronger, I don’t mean they need more bullets to put down, but they also gain newer abilities that players have to learn and counter.
Killing Floor 2 is an FPS that was released in 2016 to great praise. The premise is simple: six players are dropped into a zombie-infested level, the number of zeds increases, and newer variants of zombies come into play, so like Risk of Rain, the priority is to end levels as quickly as possible while keeping in mind the resources and ammo left for the end boss of the stage.
Killing Floor 2 is a great co-op experience and a very polished shooter; however, it doesn’t feature the same sort of replayability, but still the experience it delivers is exciting enough to give it a try.
6. Gunfire Reborn
Gunfire Reborn is a mix of co-op FPS with rogue-lite and RPG elements. It’s an early access title that sees regular updates and an active development that takes player feedback into account and fixes the game’s bugs or glitches.
The game begins in a randomly generated level every time. It enables players to control heroes, each featuring their own sets of abilities and equip randomly dropped guns making each new game its own experience.
Gunfire Reborn has artistic visuals with solid core gameplay and unique items and weapons to keep players returning to the game.
7. Don’t Starve Together
While it may not be a first-person or platformer, Don’t Starve Together is perhaps one of the best roguelike co-op games available.
The game features an isometric camera with 2-D hand-drawn graphics, and though it might seem like a 2-D world, it does allow panning the camera to get more perspective of the field.
The premise is simple, you and your teammates will be dropped onto an alien world, and your objective is the title of the game, as you and your friends get wood to keep yourselves warm at night and further down the line, players will be able to develop machines far beyond the comprehension of science in an attempt to keep themselves safe from hostiles that keep growing in numbers as days pass.
Like Risk of Rain 2, DST has a learning curve and requires players to understand its mechanics with little to no hand-holding. Further on, as players progress, they might learn faster ways of building a base and beating the game.
I have great admiration for roguelikes. Games like Risk of Rain 2 allow players to have a familiar experience while changing key aspects every time they play a new game, enabling them to get more replay value. This is only enhanced when playing a co-op game as two or more players try to understand the game and the parameters to win.
Most games mentioned here are co-op titles barring a few that I believed shared elements with Risk of Rain 2 in other aspects. However, they are all titles that players can appreciate for their roguelike experience.