Why Is Playing Brogue So Fun?

D0: A Beautiful Welcome Screen

Slow warm flames invite you. What is this game of mystery and intrigue?

A retro look with a modern pallete. Time for a New Game!

Brogue (2008) is a modern traditional roguelike game. These games usually feature these qualities:

Let's not bury the lead: I like this game because it is pretty, challenging, peaceful, fulfulling, complex, and streamlined. I like that it is turn based. I can really think about my next move or set the game aside easily. Though the game looks simple with text-only graphics the things you can do in the game are awfully expressive.

Players begin the game in a dungeon on Level 1. The goal is to explore the level and find a way down to the next floor. Players go down through ~25 floors until they find some ultimate treasure, "The Amulet of Yendor," then players run all the way back up floor escaping the dungeon with the treasure.

There are no save points. If a player ever dies the game starts completely over and the player has nothing but their lived experiences from their previous "dungeon run." The game presents another randomly generated dungeon and the player may only wander into wonder what they'll run in to this time.

Along the way players find items, fight enemies, and solve puzzles. Items are things like weapons, armor, potions, wizard staffs, magic wands, and food which the player must eat in order to not starve. Enemies start small and easy on the first floors and grow more fierce and complex as the player progresses. Players initially encounter creatures like rats, kobols, goblins and jellies. Eventually players run in to vampire bats, ogres, arrow-shooting centaurs, dragons and many many other monsters.

I want to show you some of my favorite moments from this game! These all take place during a single "run."

D3: A Treasure Room!

This is our first view of the game. Let me give you a rundown about what we're looking at here. Here are some important things to note:

That's the lay of the land. Sorry to start on Depth 3. I just hadn't taken any interesting screenshots on the first two levels.

Brogue presents us with these treasure rooms. They're an absolute joy. Normally you'll find items (weapons, armor, potions, scrolls, magic items) strewn around the floors of rooms you explore. These rooms have especially good items but you can only choose one. Once you choose an item gates fall down locking the other items in place.

These treasure rooms are locked by default. You always have to solve a little puzzle in the game to get a key to unlock the room.

On this floor you can see there's actually another treasure room up top, the silver

symbol represents a locked iron door. In this case we can choose to pick up the key from this first treasure room and unlock the second room to see if there's something we may like better than this charm or hammer.

This hammer is a very powerful weapong, but I'm not strong enough to use it yet. It requires a strength of 20 and I only have a strength of 12.

In this case I chose to take the protection charm. I can activate it to have temporary armor equal to some ~60% of my total health on top of my current health.

D4: Hallucinating On the Beach of A Lava Lake

Look how pretty that lake of lava is!

You can see in the top left I have a status bar indicating that I'm hallucinating. I forgot exactly what happened but I bet I drank a potion that turned out to be a potion of hallucination. You don't know what potions are until you taste them and "identify" them.

When you're hallucinating you, well, you can't trust what you see. Across the lake there are two items but we can see them flickering between realities. Are they potions, weapons, scrolls, armors or magic items? We have no clue because we're straight tripping.

We're only on Depth 4, so there's probably not many very dangerous enemies, but still I don't like to explore while I'm hallucinating because I won't know what enemy monsters I'm up against.

I chose to sit this out and skip through turns staying in one place while the effects of the hallucination potion wore off.

When the hallucinations recede I get up and walk around the lake to go grab those items. I run into a rat and a kobold on my way. It is good to know that I'm facing simple enemies. I wouldn't have had a clue what I was up against if I had walked through that room hallucinating.

I could have picked a better strategic place to wait out the effects of the hallucinations. Sitting out in the open next to a lava lake some enemy could have apearred, and god forbid it be a strong Ogre, perhaps I may have been pushed in and instantly died.

I chose to risk it for the biscuit and enjoy the idea of being an adventurer trudging through a dungeon tripping balls sitting next to lava lake.

This game is so pretty!

D5: Axing Golbin Conjurer Something

You start the game with a dagger. You attack enemies by moving into them and that automatically attacks. As the game progresses you find different weapons and the weapons behave differently.

I'm fighting a goblin conjurer here. These monsters can be annoying and dangerous because they conjur up magical spectral blades that can swarm you. The initial dagger is a terrible weapon to fight this monster with because you can only stab in one direction at a time and often the actual goblin is one step step away from you with the spectral blades between you. As you run toward the goblin you suffer a thousand nicks, over and over until you're bested and dead and wondering how you'll beat this type of enemy next time.

That's the fun part of this game. You play. You die. You reflect. You make a plan for how to avoid that death next time.

Probably the best way to handle this situation in general is to not fight goblin conjurers in wide open spaces. If I would have stepped back into the hallway I would have constricted access to attack me from the spectral blades. Only one could have hit me at a time. I could slash them down one by one while waiting for the conjurer to be in a postion where I can stab them.

I could have used the hallways to my advantage but I have a better tool. I have an axe!

Whereas a dagger stabs in just one direction, axes in this game attack every space around the player in a big circle arc. I love using access because they're great in crowded fights. Using the axe against a conjurer consistently slices away many of their conjured blades with each swing.

When I open my inventory you can see the axe is a "+3" axe. This means I've used some Scrolls of Enchantment a few times to upgrade the axe and make it more powerful. (actually in this case I just found the axe with +3 already)

The axe also has a message "unknown runic." This is rare! It means the axe has some currently-unknown extra special magical ability. The ability has some lower percentage chance of activating. I need to keep attacking with the axe until the runes randomly activate and I can observe the effect.

D5: Gelly, A Goblin Totem, and Enchantments

Here's another combat example. The

is a Jelly monster. They are generally not too dangerous, but watch out. Each time you attack a Jelly the Jelly splits in half, halves its health, and spawns a new Jelly. Like fighting Goblin Conjurers (and, heck, fighting most anything) it is best to constrain combat to a narrow hallway so you're not surrounded and overwhelmed.

You can see I specifically switched from using my dagger to using the axe to fight the jelly too. I want that wide arc to attack Jellys in both directions because I know they're going to spawn behind me. Free hits!

After defeatin the Jelly I head south and find a small room with two goblins and a Goblin Totem. The toem is a magic device that casts spells to help the goblins. I think it either "hastes" them to make them go faster and earn extra movement and attacks, or it casts protection on them so I have to fight through some magic armor before damaging their actual health.

The goblin totem room fight is sort of stupid. There's nothing actually in this room I need. I could have just walked away. On the other hand they weren't too hard to defeat and perhaps I may have needed that room to run, hide and heal in to stay away from another yet-met enemy.

At the end you can see me look in my inventory see see lots of scrolls. Each time you play this game you don't know what each type of scroll will do until you take a risk and read it. Some scrolls are bad and will summon monsters around you. Some scrolls will teleport you to a random spot on the map (not necessarily bad. Actually great to hold on to in case of an emergency.) Lots of different types of scrolls.

Since I don't know what scrolls are I like to wait to read them until I have lots. Then I generally assume whatever pile of scrolls has the highest number is a Scroll of Enchantment. These are important scrolls that make items better. These scrolls are more common than other scrolls, that's why I make that slop-weight-sighted prediction.

In this case I'm correct. I'm lucky to find out "herba nurt gana nidge" is indeed a Scroll of Enchantment. I use each of the three scrolls to improve my Protection Charm. This is a device I can activate that will give me extra temporary armor.

After charging the charm up several times you can see the stats. It will protect me with a shield worth 123% of my total health. This shield will stay on my for 20 turns. It will take 149 for it to recharge after I activate it.

I love that charm. It basically gives me more than an extra life temporarily that lets me get into some beefy fights. I plan to keep pouring enchantment scrolls in to it. I really want to get to the point it will fully recharge before the shield itself runs out. :)

D5: +1 Protection Charm Stats Pre-Enchantment

D5: +4 Protection Charm Stats Post-Enchantment

  • armor worth 123% of my total hit points
  • Armor lasts 20 turns
  • Recharges in 149 turns
  • D5: Armor States

    Here's a quick glimpse of armor stats.

    I'm currently wearing leather armor. The game is showing me the difference between the Leather Armor I have on now and what my armor stats would be if I put on this Split Mail armor.

    I currently have a strength of 12. The Splint Mail requires 17 strength. It would not be a good idea for me to put this armor on now.

    D5: Dagger vs Axe Stats

    I currently have the dagger equipped. This screen is showing me if I start using the Axe I will do 72% more damage, but lost 25% accuracy. I'll not suffer the accuracy bonus if I get stronger. The axe requires 15 strength to wield accurately.

    72% more damage in exchange for 25% less accuracy sounds like a fair deal to me! Plus, I sure do like that arc swing attack. Total win to use this even though I'm not completely strong enough to use it optimally yet.

    D5: It's A Trap!

    I said treasure rooms require keys. You get the keys by encountering things like this. This is a room with a key in it. But the key is hooked up to a trap. As soon as you pick up the key water will start flooding out everywhere. There are dangerous eel monsters in the water too and they will attack you. You must grab the key and find a good way out!

    Somewhere along the way I found a magic staff called a Staff of Blinking. This staff lets me aim in a direction a teleport a short distance away in a straight line. It is the perfect tool to get me out of this water trap!

    First I try to outrun the rising water. I only get so far. I start to fear I'll get attacked by eels. I pull out the Staff of Blinking, aim for the hallway out of this trap room and *snap* I blink on outta there.

    How cool is that?!

    Getting out of hairy situations like this is why I love the game so much. It is what I mean when I say the game is "expressive" too. There are so many ways to get out of trouble here. Perhaps I could have drank a potion of speed to run out quicker, or a potion of levitation to float over the water and eels on my way out. Or if I had a scroll or charm of teleportation I could have instantly escaped! Maybe I could have just walked on out but made sure to activate my protection charm. Look at the next page to see all the items in the game.

    Oh yeah, at the beginning of the video I used the staff to blink to the beginning of the hallway to pick a good spot to fight a group of jackals too. If I hadn't blinked over and contrained the fight to the narrow hallway they would have surrounded me and done much more damage in the fight.

    D5: All Game Items

    The game has this screen that shows all the kinds of items that exist. Their are "good" and "bad" items. Drinking those bad potions can harm you. But, once you know what potions are bad you can use them offensively and throw them at enemies!

    Some of the items here are bright and highlighted. These are items I've already encountered in this run and identified.

    Like a every-flavor jelly bean you don't know what a scroll, or potion or wand or staff or ring is until you try it.

    It is not uncommon to drink an unknown potion and burst into flames because you just drank a Potion of Incineration. Your character will take damage burning for a few turns. If you're standing on grass the fire won't go out and it will spread around the ground too. You can get fire to go out faster by moving around empty land. I often go back and forth two spaces to damp the flames out. I always feel like I'm performing "stop drop and roll." I'm telling you, this game has so much imagination!

    Eventually you learn it is a good idea to wait to taste unknown potions until you're next to a lake so you can hop in the water and put yourself out in case you burst into flames.

    D6: Identifying Staffs and Potions

    D6: Identifying A Magic Wand

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    D6: Reading A Scroll of Magic Mapping

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    D6: Managing A Full Pack

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    D6: Shitty Jelly Tactics, an Expose

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    D7: Axe Stats

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    D7: Sighting An Ogre

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    D7: Quaff Potion of Strength and Armor Rating Check

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    D7: Reading A Known Bad Scroll

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    D7: Setting An Ogre Trap

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    D7: Springing An Ogre Trap

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    D8: Acid Punching Gone Bad

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    D8: Armor Stats

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    D8: Sun Tzu: Stab Enemies When They're Paralyzed

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    D8: Setting A Wraith Trap (fails)

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    D8: Wrait Trap Fails Again

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    D8: Still Fighting Wraith

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    D9: Armor Stats Again

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    D9: Fighting An Acid Mob

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    D9: Gassing Acid Mound Mob

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    D9: Hidden Things

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    D10: Always Quaff Strength

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    D10: Being Poisoned

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    D10: IDing Bad Potions

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    D10: IDing Bad Potions (again)

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    D10: Level Start Inventory Check

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    D10: Leveraging Clairvoyance

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    D10: Full Bag In A Room of Treasure

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    D11: Macing Up

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    D11: Magic Map 2: Electric Boogaloo

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    D11: Sacrifice Mini-Game

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    D11: Sneaking Past Puzzle

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    D12: Blitzkreiging Acid Jelly

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    D12: A Promising Ally Trolled

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    D12: Start

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