7DRL Challenge 2018 – Part 1
I’m in the mood for some quick deaths, and there’s no better way to get yourself killed in a jiffy than with the 7-Day Roguelike Challenge. Started way back in the distant year 2005, the roguelike community came together to create this annual ritual wherein participants get just 7 days to craft a roguelike. Every March the indie developers gather, churning out hundreds of new and exciting ways to die in a scant week. The goal is a complete game as well, so the results from this yearly exercise can be surprisingly involved.
I’ll be doing a quick look at three of the best browser-based entries today, but I can see this being a deep well I return to over the next few months. I encourage you to check out this year’s crop yourself if you enjoy procedural dangers around every corner, because they come in great variety here!
I was a big fan of Hand of Fate, and I enjoy card games in general, so I’m always up for another deck-based roguelike. Patient Rogue does not disappoint, with each floor of the deadly dungeon represented by a handful of cards. Each one you flip might be a monster to battle, or loot to add to your hand, or a trap, or the exit down. Flipping cards builds your hunger so you have to keep moving to find more food, and once you flip a monster it can chew on you if left unattended.
There are some quality systems stuck in here, like a charm spell that lets you add enemies to your hand and other spells that encourage you to play a bit loose with your hit points. I also really appreciate that damage taken is tied to your character level and dungeon level, which encourages you to explore a bit (but not too much) before descending. Starvation might claim you a bit more than it should, but otherwise this is an extremely solid little dungeon crawler that pushes all the right card-flipping buttons.
Golden Krone Hotel got a lot of props from me for taking the traditional roguelike formula and layering the whole vampire system over it to produce something special. It isn’t surprising that someone else found an equally-clever system to add to their roguelike, but it is surprising how compelling it is. In Crypt of Grimwin you have already met your end (and you get to select the circumstances!) and are now a spirit. You’ll vanish if you float around for too long but you can possess enemies to gain a body to soldier on in. Each foe has different stats and equipment slots of course, but some play completely differently like rats that can scurry under doors and over boulders.
You’ll need to collect orbs to empower your spirit as you progress, as harder enemies are naturally harder to possess. The fact that you still have equipment to manage and vast dungeon floors to explore, complete with traps and hidden treasures, makes this an impressively deep roguelike to find on this list. Honestly with such a solid foundation, Crypt of Grimwin feels like only a few content iterations away from classic status. Even as it is, though, you can get a lot of mileage out of possessing grave robbers and kobolds and smacking them into each other.
Do you like mechs? Do you like hacking? Do you like ASCII? No, this isn’t Cogmind, it’s DEAD FACE, a viciously cyberpunk adventure where you hack anything and everything to gain control of giant warmechs to blast other mechs with. Your goal is to hoover up as much data as possible but gaining control of deadly automatons will help you get there, since stealth is only going to be an option for so long. You have no combat skills of your own but you can weave through the bullet-hell salvos launched your way to get at the soft software of the murder machines and turn them against each other.
The hacking feels like a good version of the Bethesda Fallout hacking system. You get lines of hexadecimal that you need to zero out, and five programs that zero out specific values or shift all of them or delete lines that meet certain criteria. Using these programs in the right order and loading more will eventually get you through all the lines of code, but you’re on a timer that shrinks by a lot every time you have to load new programs. It’s a clever challenge, even if some of the harder hacks feel impossible. Between the neat hacking and the ASCII bullet hell attacks, DEAD FACE is one of the most unique cyberpunk roguelikes you’re likely to see.