Pixel Dungeon, the most played roguelike on Android

Pixel Dungeon is a roguelike for Android that, being both free and open source, has allowed for the creation of tons of remakes and versions of the original game.

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If you’re looking for a textbook example of the roguelike genre, look no further than Pixel Dungeon. You could pretty much consider it one of the heavyweights of the new silver age, way above and beyond the rough ASCII environments used in Rogue, Hack or Moria. Although it was initially released for Android in 2012, the fact that it was distributed under a GNU license and shared its source code publicly, has led to countless clones and remakes. These new versions have continued to add endless content to the already enormous number of possibilities of the original game.

Pixel Dungeon art

The Russian developer Oleg Dlya (most well-known for his online pseudonyms like Watawatabou), was most inspired by Brogue, another old-school roguelike based on the almost academic NetHack. Thus, the objective in all of them are always the same: to descend through various randomly generated levels of a dungeon until you find the amulet of Yendor in the deepest level. A nearly impossible feat considering your adventure starts over from scratch as soon as you run out of health…which unfortunately, happens time and time again.

Pixel Dungeon comparative

The game was later ported to other platforms since it was developed in Java and used the Libgdx libraries. In fact, in 2015 it moved to Steam Greenlight and you can currently find the desktop version in the Valve store for a reasonable price. But that’s not its natural environment; where it’s really managed to thrive is on Android. At one time or another, we’ve all searched for a dungeon crawler, RPG, or roguelike and have seen at least a dozen titles with the icon of the pixelated chest in all colors and shapes. 

Of all the remakes, the most successful, without a doubt, has been Shattered Pixel Dungeon, which expands and improves upon the original formula in many aspects both visually (with a more elaborate tileset and adjustments in various sprites), as well as in terms of content (with more enemies, objects, and general balance). In this case, the game is 100% free, open source, and ad-free, making it the most downloaded out of all of its peers. Although both this game and the original have been around for over six years, both continue to receive constant updates and improvements.

In addition to the ones mentioned above, it’s also worth mentioning Sprouted Pixel Dungeon (a version that’s practically identical to the original but easier), Pixel Dungeon ML (a translation of the original Pixel Dungeon into different languages), and Remixed Pixel Dungeon (which adds a new character class and more different enemies). All it takes is a quick search to find tons of other versions to fit the likes and preferences of any player.

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