Axe of the Blood God Episode 7: The Wonderful World of Roguelikes

Jeremy, Kat, and special guest Steve Tramer jump into the prickliest of subgenres — roguelikes.

Analysis by Kat Bailey, .

In this week's episode of Axe of the Blood God (download here), special guest Steve Tramer joins Jeremy and I to discuss a subgenre that has recently gotten a huge boost from the indie scene — roguelikes.

What makes a good roguelike? Why have they recently become so prevalent? And where is a good place for newcomers to start. These are all questions that we explore as we dive into the land of item checks and permanent death. Plus, Jeremy shares his thoughts on Etrian Mystery Dungeon, which he recently reviewed here.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of roguelikes, but it's always interesting to hear a couple hardcore enthusiasts express their appreciation for something they love. Also, I'm still playing Darkest Dungeon, which is a really fabulous roguelike for PC. You should check it out! And if you're still curious, there's always Jeremy's Gateway Guide to Roguelikes.

When you're finished, we'd love to hear your thoughts. If you want to talk about roguelikes, or just RPGs in general, drop a line in the comments below. Conversely, you can reach me at We may read and discuss comments we like in an upcoming episode of Axe of the Blood God.

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Show Description

Guest Steve Tramer joins Kat and Jeremy to talk roguelikes on the occasion of the release of Etrian Mystery Dungeon in the latest episode of our RPG podcast. What makes a good roguelike? Why are roguelikes suddenly so prevalent? And where should a curious newcomer get started? The answers lie within! (Answers contingent on successful item check).

Music from Axe of the Blood God is courtesy of Lena Chappelle, who has also contributed the themes to Active Time Babble and Roleplayers' Realm. I also use music from the RPG Music Pack over at Check it out!

Next week: It's still up in the air, but there might be a little Super Robot Wars talk, and we still have to sit down to really analyze Xenoblade Chronicles. Stay tuned!

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Comments 11

  • Avatar for Dylaniskillin #1 Dylaniskillin 2 years ago
    Hi! Looking forward to listening to this as usual. Just wondering if USGamer has plans to make it easier to find podcasts in the future? Sometimes I don't visit the site for a while, and it's a bit cumbersome to scroll through the melange of articles to find the latest podcast, and I noticed the meta-tags aren't always consistent. Wondering if it might be easier to just add a "Podcasts" header to your "sections" section?

    Thanks, and keep up the great work!
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  • Avatar for ChairmanYang #2 ChairmanYang 2 years ago
    Roguelike elements (especially procedurally-generated levels and permadeath) are too good to be confined to roguelikes. The fact that these mechanics are spreading like wildfire in lots of genres--instead of just turn-based dungeons crawlers in ASCII--is a very good thing.
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  • Avatar for hxlf-nxxsx #3 hxlf-nxxsx 2 years ago
    I'm really glad it's not called NetHacklike.
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  • Avatar for ping33 #4 ping33 2 years ago
    When Steve mentioned getting his Roguelike start on old Macs I got excited... only to be let down by what game it was...
    I got my Roguelike start on Dungeon of Doom (
    I never got to the end and spent more than 10 years never seeing another game like it, I just assumed I was bad at games (there are 40 levels in the game and I think I got to the low-mid 30s)
    it was back in the 1Up days when I heard Jeremy talking about Shiren and realized what kind of game DoD was and why I had never beaten it.
    I would like to belatedly thank you guys for drawing attention to Roguelikes (before they were cool)
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  • Avatar for Kadrom #5 Kadrom 2 years ago
    My first true Roguelike experience was Dungeons of Dredmor. I had never played any of the mystery dungeon games growing up and was a bit too young to play Rogue/Nethack etc. back in the day. I ended up beating Dungeons of Dredmor and getting the Left for Dread achievement (beating the game on the hardest difficulty with permadeath turned on) which remains one of my favorite accomplishments in gaming!

    But I'm convinced I will never beat FTL. The Rebel Flagship wrecks me every time, even on Easy.Edited April 2015 by Kadrom
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  • Avatar for StevieWhite #6 StevieWhite 2 years ago
    My craziest roguelike death: In Nethack, you get a pet. If you are a knight, you get a horse. Playing a knight named "Batman," I named my horse "Joker." Until you become proficient at the "riding" skill, there's a slight chance your character will slip and fall when attempting to ride any creature. I attempted to ride my horse away from an angry horde of orcs after taking substantial damage. Being unskilled at riding, I fell from my horse and died. His tombstone read "Batman: Killed while attempting to mount Joker."
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  • Avatar for boatie #7 boatie 2 years ago
    For anybody interested in further topics on roguelikes, make sure to check out the devoted podcast Roguelike Radio (featuring John Harris on certain episodes, who was mentioned in this episode)! The episode on Shiren the Wanderer is a standout imo.
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  • Avatar for ryanstevens01 #8 ryanstevens01 2 years ago
    Great episode. Wish there had been some talk about ADOM.
    Also, the guests mic seemed to cut off during his mention of his twitter and the like. His knowledge was impressive, I was wondering if he had anything to say about Beneath Apple Manor. It predates Rogue by 2 years and even has graphics.
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  • Avatar for HoChiWaWa #9 HoChiWaWa 2 years ago
    My first roguelike was actually Dragon Crystal on the Game Gear, I was like 9 or 10 at the time and I really got into it. Looking back I am a bit surprised at how well I understood the game and its identification system. Years later I discovered Nethack and was completely in love it was just so much more in depth. When they started resurfacing more recently i initially was annoyed by how many skipped over item and potion identification which I saw as an integral part of the formula, but I've since learned to love many of the likes and lites.
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  • Avatar for SomeKindaWizard #10 SomeKindaWizard 2 years ago
    I'm getting a really annoying blipping sound when listening to this :(
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  • Avatar for Arvis-Jaggamar #11 Arvis-Jaggamar 2 years ago
    Really awesome to hear FTL get some discussion in this episode. One of my all-time favorite video games.

    I think a Roguelike-like that doesn't get enough credit is Oregon Trail. That game was HARDCORE. It even had job classes!
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