Ascii Dreams holds a poll to choose the roguelike of the year 2010. Amazing number of candidates could make casting your vote a complicated matter. Even if your favorite game does not win remember there are also runners up and honorable mentions to be claimed.
Previous winners of this contest were Dwarf Fortress, DCSS and DoomRL.
Teratogen began as a project to test how well Go language lends itself to roguelike game development. It is graphical and hex-based. There have been several roguelikes with hex maps but Teratogen does it right. Your goal is to go down and find the source of mutagenic Tau wave while not getting chewed, bitten, maimed, crushed or shot. Survival horror adventure at its best.
On each floor there will be zombies and other mutated monsters. You have your hand gun and ammunition for fifty shots. When that ends or you get cornered prepare for a brawl. Various inhabitants of this wasted world generally do not exhibit much intelligence although eagerly follow blood trails. Whenever you splat a monster a disorganized red stain appears. Walk through it and you will leave bloody shoe marks.
The difficulty in Teratogen is your survival is based on two factors. Not getting killed which barely works on top floors and not losing one’s humanity which hardly works on deepest floors. Every defeated monster takes some of your humanity on death. As you become more and more deprived of your very self mutations manifest in your body. These are always very beneficial and useful. You are tempted to fully clear each floor … but that way lies madness. Before you make it halfway to the heart of evil you will turn into a chaos spawn without aware mind.
Mutations are especially noteworthy. One of them is lightning usable every fifteen turns. Use it near a group of enemies and watch as it arcs from monster to monster electrocuting everything in its path. Another is named cryogenics. Freezes targets into neat ice cubes patiently waiting to be shattered. Do so before they thaw or take time to run away. There is space for eight skills but only two are going to be filled.
Sadly development appears to have been put on halt. Google dropped a certain module from Go which is crucial to Teratogen’s code. Since the language has incomplete Windows support the game is playable only on Linux. Without a significant code overhaul this project will get easily forgotten.
Dance of Death is a flash roguelike game. You could be playing it right now instead of reading this review. While wonderfully portable you may need to agree few times to give it more storage on your hard drive. World inside is fully persistent and needs some space. It is divided into pieces just like wilderness map of ADOM. In DoD though, you can only move by going through borders of current area. Remember to use the ‘m’ap key to find the stairs to visit. Look for hints in your quest log. Finishing this dungeon means victory.
Skill based nature of Dance of Death makes creating right character crucial. Carefully tuning your attributes and skills can make the game a breeze. Lets take armor skill. The more heavy pieces of protective gear you wear the more it encumbers you. Up to a certain point decided by armor skill adding new parts will enhance your safety. Continuing above this threshold actually decreases your protection because burden makes you less capable of efficiently using your armor.
Hit point regeneration system is unusual. This does not happen automatically as time goes by reducing tedium of resting after every battle. Boring pillar dancing is gone as well. To heal you have to eat corpses. After a meal you will be revitalized for a short time. During this phase your health regenerates very fast. It is actually so quick there is no need to wait for hit points to reach maximum. Go find another monster or some new treasure. Revitalization is likely to end sooner. Unfortunate blow to this good design are never rotting monster corpses. With several in your pack you can munch some when in bad condition then run away a little while revitalization lasts and come back to finish wounded enemy.
Inventory takes a while to get used to if you have played roguelikes before. Hit ‘i’ to access it and when you highlight an item DoD will present you with number of actions you can take. Remember you need to eat not just to repair health. Bad things happen when your sustenance counter reaches zero. Overall a fine game with a strong coherent world but lacking in content due to still early development phase. Winnable in 15 minutes on second playthrough.