Brogue is a roguelike that’s been in active development since 2009. It’s unique in that it eschews all other attributes – dexterity, intelligence, charisma, wisdom, etc. – in favor of strength, which can only be gained through potions. Likewise, this single stat only determines one thing: whether or not you can wield better weapons and armor without incurring a penalty. Potions of strength are obviously important in Brogue, but so are scrolls of enchantment: enchanting items not only increases their power, but also reduces their strength requirements.
In a game like Nethack, for example, you’ll often encounter monsters and items that are similar to one another, like the four different types of short swords that only deal slight differences in damage. In Brogue, however, everything is much more distinct. Many monsters have unique attacks, like thieving monkeys or goblin conjurers that summon spectral blades to chase you. And it’s easy to tell whether a weapon or armor is better by simply looking at the strength requirement (although some types of equipment have special abilities, too, like hammers and spears which deal damage across multiple spaces).
Brogue is streamlined, and even though it sports ASCII graphics it reminds me of console roguelikes like Shiren the Wanderer, due to its intuitive interface (fully mouse-accessible) and simplified mechanics. It still manages to be challenging, but the challenge lies less in knowing trivia about the game than simply making smart decisions. The graphics are actually very pretty, too – Brogue’s dungeons are quite naturalistic and sport all kinds of colorful areas, from green-and-brown fungus forests to blue-and-purple sun-lit grottos. Even caustic gases and deadly wildfires look great as they spread slowly across the floor… just make sure you don’t get backed into a corner while you’re admiring them!
TIGdb: Entry for Brogue