Hooked On Failure: How I Learned To Love The Roguelike Genre

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We're in May now, barrelling toward E3 (and goodness knows how many other events), but we've been treated to a smorgasbord of gaming delights already this year.

Hitman 3, Monster Hunter: Rise, and Resident Evil: Village are all quantifiable greats, but one game has gotten under my skin more than any other – Returnal.

As I mentioned before, I don't usually play hard games, but something about Returnal has its claws in me deep – and I'm still early in the game.


I can't stop dying in Returnal, and I kinda like it.

Read More: Returnal Is The Perfect Showcase Of PS5's Dualsense

Hooked On Failure: How I Learned To Love The Rogue-like Genre

Hot damn, Returnal is good
Hot damn, Returnal is good

Throughout each run of Returnal, I'm making progress, and a lot of it will be moot as soon as Selene, the protagonist, succumbs to the hostile alien world's variety of nasties.


That fancy new weapon? Gone. The upgrades to your suit? Gone, as are the resources you were just about to spend on more.

What does carry over, though, is knowledge. I know where at least some of the enemies will come from, and I know how best to take them on. I know where I'm likely to find secrets and chests.

That knowledge is, if you'll pardon the cliche, power. It's the difference between early runs running in circles and trying to dodge enemies and now being almost guaranteed that I'll make it to a boss.

The more I look back, though, this love of the infinite loop has been there for years.

While many touted The Binding of Isaac as the roguelike du jour, its gross, body-horror theme put me off. In fact, the first roguelike I found myself hooked on was the superlative Dead Cells.

Why that game? Well, because it appealed to my 'loot hoarder' sensibilities. I played also games like Slay The Spire and Monster Train because card-battling appealed to me.

Once I learned to relish the respawn (or should that be restart?), I fell in love with Risk of Rain 2 and Hades, the latter of which became one of my favourite games of all time.

Hades offers roguelike perfection
Hades offers roguelike perfection

I'm sure many will have had the same 'eureka' moment when playing Soulslikes, but it probably says something about how much I enjoy repetitious actions that I'm in flux between roguelikes and Destiny 2.