What are the best roguelike games? It’s a question that seems impossible to answer if you’re a massive fan of the genre like I am, as there are so many to choose from. But The Game Awards has shown how 2023 may just be another banger year for the genre, as we got the surprise announcements of both Hades 2 and Castlevania-themed Dead Cells DLC, as both games just refuse to die, which seems only fitting.
Roguelike games haven’t exactly gone anywhere in recent years, with a constant stream of excellent endless oubliettes keeping us fat and fed, but getting to see Dead Cells and Hades 2 surprise at The Game Awards – ostensibly the biggest industry event of the year – has been an absolute treat.
Supergiant Games’ Hades is an absolute all-timer, so there’s no doubt in my mind that Hades 2 is going to be in the Game of the Year 2023 conversation. Supergiant is clearly going for bigger and better, with what I imagine are many ideas left on the cutting room floor of the original making their way into this sequel.
Hades 2 is also the first direct sequel from Supergiant, which says “one such challenge we’ve long considered was to try and make a sequel that could somehow re-capture the sense of wonder and delight of its predecessor,” adding that they “always imagined the possibility of new stories in its world.” So it’s abundantly clear that Supergiant is only making this because of how much they think they can squeeze into it.
For my money, roguelikes are some of the most true experiences in the medium, combining art and storytelling into an interactive experience the way only games can, and Hades is one of the best, so seeing the sequel front and centre at The Game Awards is my highlight of the show. Time to jump back into the original I guess.
That wasn’t it for roguelikes though, as Dead Cells: Return to Castlevania was announced as a new DLC for the endless platformer. Developer Motion Twin just can’t seem to let Dead Cells go, and I’m all here for it.
Coming full circle, Dead Cells is crossing over with a series that was undoubtedly one of its main inspirations for the fast-paced and frenetic 2D combat. Getting in with something like Castlevania also shows the sheer size and reach of the roguelike genre and Dead Cells more specifically, and I’m sure if Geoff Keighley put up a ‘Best DLC award’ in 2023, Dead Cells would be in the running.
No stranger to a crossover, this new Dead Cells DLC just further proves my point: roguelikes are going to dominate 2023, with continuations to some of the most infinitely replayable games making them even more replayable, even though that sounds impossible. I’m also at the stage where I’d happily see Motion Twin revamp any classic 2D platformer in the modern era, as I’m sure they could manage it.
There was plenty going on at The Game Awards, so we decided to put together all The Game Awards nominees and winners for your easy perusal. If you want to see games like Hades and Dead Cells though, we’ve got a list of the best action-adventure games available now, alongside the best platform games too.