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This new Steam roguelike lets you play as the enemies that killed you

Lost in Prayer is a new traditional roguelike coming to Steam, where you unlock new characters by dying as you flip between Heaven and Hell.

Lost in Prayer is a roguelike battle between Heaven and Hell - A winged, armored angel flies through a golden sky.

Hades, The Binding of Isaac, Monster Train – the conflict between Heaven and Hell is a recurring theme through many of the best roguelikes. So it is in Lost in Prayer, a new traditional roguelike game from Nine Dots Studio that has you flipping between the divine dimensions, where each enemy that kills you becomes a new playable character. Ahead of launch, PCGamesN speaks to Nine Dots CEO Guillame Boucher-Vidal about making the more classic roguelike format approachable and making players feel like a genius.

Described as “a roguelike true to its roots,” Lost in Prayer is a much more traditional offering than many of the best roguelike games, which lean much more into the ‘roguelite’ format of offering a gentle progression curve over time. Boucher-Vidal is a huge fan of the more classic, punishing format (he nods to the ‘Berlin interpretation,’ a notable attempt to define what makes a game a true successor to the original Rogue).

He admits, however, that oftentimes the more traditional style can result in something “dense and ugly,” and says he wanted to build something that’s more approachable; a game that makes dying “as rewarding as possible,” but that still keeps to the tenets of the traditional roguelike. Lost in Prayer, then, is very much a top-down, turn-based, grid-based roguelike with permadeath where you’re exploring deeper into dungeons, fighting monsters and gathering equipment while dealing with tough decisions and resource management.

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The thematic hook is the juxtaposition of Heaven and Hell and the fact each enemy that kills you becomes a playable character. This is something Boucher-Vidal hopes will solve another big problem with roguelikes – the fact players inevitably spend a lot more time playing through the first area than they do zones deeper into a run.

Here, you’ll flip between two completely separate paths, Heaven and Hell, meaning that you can keep runs feeling fresh time after time. Die to a powerful demon in Hell, and you’ll unlock it to add to your roster of characters to choose from next time, where it can offer a great way to take on the forces of Heaven. It takes the divergent paths of games such as Spelunky 2 and later-era Binding of Isaac to the next level, and that’s a really smart trick.

Boucher-Vidal says this currently means you can end up with about 50 different forms to choose from, each of which will define your character build – a four-armed angel could pick up and use four weapons simultaneously, for example, but might not be able to equip torso armor due to their form. Of course, the gear you find and the paths you choose mean that even with the same character, no two runs are quite the same.

Lost in Prayer - An angel fights through Hell in this new, traditional roguelike.

It also means that running across a particularly rare, strong enemy can present you with a difficult choice – it might be a great addition to your roster, and who knows when you’ll see it again? So you could, if you were so inclined, simply put yourself at its mercy and die to unlock it; but what if your current run is going especially well? Boucher-Vidal says he loves presenting such tough choices: “I want to make sure players are torn apart all the f***in’ time,” he laughs.

Boucher-Vidal is also very aware that roguelike games can be overwhelming, especially to new players. He says that the team is very focused on building an approachable user interface that makes sure you always “know how to do what you know you can do.”

Armed with that knowledge, Boucher-Vidal hopes players will hit those key synergies and moments that make you feel like a genius, hitting powerful “chain reactions” by utilizing tricks such as pulling enemies in the way of traps or slamming two foes into one another to damage them both.

Lost in Prayer - A demon fights through Heaven in this new, traditional roguelike.

Lost in Prayer currently has no release date, but you can wishlist it now on Steam. We’ll be sure to bring you more details on it when it arrives. You can also try a playable demo soon at PAX East on Thursday March 21, if you happen to be heading there.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the best turn-based strategy games for plenty more tough decisions to make, along with the best indie games in 2024 that you won’t want to miss.

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