Tech: A Roguelike Retrospective
The computer role-playing game has a long and storied history, and there are many different varieties of CRPG. From D&D-based properties like "Baldur's Gate" and "Neverwinter Nights," to sci-fi games like "Fallout" and "Knights of the Old Republic," to the current MMORPGs that dominate today's charts, there are a wide variety of settings to suit every taste.
All of these games, though, owe something to "Rogue". "Rogue" is a simple game where you descend through a treacherous dungeon, finding treasure and killing enemies. This certainly sounds exciting enough, except that all the graphics are rendered in ASCII. Still, the game was incredibly popular through the 80s and spawned dozens of clones and homages. I actually played "Rogue" back in the 6th grade (it was one of the only programs we could sneak onto the school computers), and it provided many hours of escape from Ms. Rao's dull Geography class.
The most famous "Roguelike" game, though, is "Diablo." Though it added the trappings of graphics, sound, and Internet multiplayer, the game, at its heart, was still a simple dungeon crawl. The randomly generated dungeon, the various character classes, the menagerie of baddies, and, most importantly, the epic amounts of loot you could acquire made "Diablo" an instant success. I never actually played the game until high school, but that first descent into the church of Tristram consumed almost four hours of my life. Most first-timers back then reported similar experiences.
I dabbled with some of the various Diablo clones out there - "Darkstone," "Nox," etc. None were as atmospheric and gripping as the original (even "Diablo II" wasn't that great). It's been awhile since someone has delivered a truly satisfying hack-and-slash dungeon crawling experience. Games like "Oblivion" are nice and all, but sometimes you just want to slice some zombies and balrogs up, without all that pesky plot in the way.