What is a ‘roguelike’? And a ‘metroidvania’? On Steam they try to explain it without much success

roguelike 1000x600.jpg
roguelike 1000x600.jpg

What is a roguelike? And a roguelite? A metroidvania? And how about a “type Dark Souls«? Steam has gone to work trying to explain what some of today’s most popular subgenres consist of… without much success, to tell you the truth, or at least that’s my impression after digging a bit at an organized celebration by the great online game store and, how could it be otherwise, has been accompanied by special sales that you can still take advantage of.

In To the Dungeons: Festival of Perseverance on Steam, they fully enter all those denominations to label subgenres of subgenres that, when they do not try to limit themselves under specific parameters, go very well to describe what you have in front of you at a stroke of the pen. But they are only used for that. It’s like judging a book by its cover, it doesn’t always work as it should and if you keep that, more than once you’re going to be disappointed. The same thing happens with terms like the ones we are dealing with.

Thus, it can be useful to answer ‘roguelike’ or ‘metroidvania’ when asked what you are playing, but only if the person in front of you understands games and only if you add an explanation, because… what does it mean that you are playing? to a roguelike? What are you playing a game like the Rogue original 1980, in which the stage is a randomly generated dungeon, with permanent death, turn-based combat…? They tell in the special article that they dedicate to the subject that I don’t know what agreement was reached at a developers convention about fifteen years ago…. But no.


Rogue, the original from 1980

A handful of developers don’t decide what is something as abstract as a roguelike, nor do they want something as seemingly boxy as a metroidvania. At most, a “type Dark Souls» because of the obviousness of the term, which simply refers to, forgive the redundancy, the reference to the genre, in this case an action game with hints of RPG, high difficulty and a fantastic, but dark, setting. It’s like saying a game “type Super Mario“, or “type Call of Duty«. That way we understand each other.

However, when you stay in the mere roguelike, the only thing that ordinary mortals will understand is that it is a dungeon slayer… A game “type Devil«? If it is that the more you try to delve and specify, the worse, the more confusing everything becomes. For things like this I said in the last analysis I did, the one about Imp of the Sunwho preferred to call it games of 2D action and platforming, instead of metroidvania. For starters, because it has nothing to do with Castlevania.

But the fact is that if you start looking at games on Steam labeled roguelike or metroidvania, you will find a lot that have little to do with each other, and even step on each other. For example, Hollow Knight It’s a very cool title that I would also describe as 2D action platformer, with its own nuances. On Steam, however, it’s listed as 2D, platformer, metroidvania, and “type dark-soul«. Take it now! What do I say, is it necessary so much roll?

I mean, yes Hollow Knight it is a metroidvania, it is understood that at least it is a 2D platform, although it is not only that. The “type” Dark Souls» it is already beating around the bush, because what brings it closer is that it has a dark atmosphere. The point is that this thing about games and subgenres works a bit like language, you can’t force inclusion or a certain way of speaking, because people do what they want. And what he does.

For this reason, you may be wondering what all this story is about, when it is evident not only that it has no solution, but that it is bullshit without any real significance. Well, it’s Sunday and I felt like it. To nothing else. well, that’s it dungeon sale ends tomorrowin case you want to go fishing for some roguelike, roguelite, metroidvania, «type dark-soul«… or, in short, a game of this style that interests you.

Oh, and who says Steam, says the Humble Store, where they are having a spring sale without being restricted to any particular genre. After all, games are games.

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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.