Zangband (also Angband, Moria)
Zangband actually belongs to a complex family of roguelikes which all trace themselves back to an earlier Tolkien-inspired game called Moria, which itself was one of the first clones of Rogue. Zangband, based on Angband, is one of the “must-plays” of this particular lineage. Apart from Rogue itself, it’s perhaps the seminal example of a run-of-the-mill roguelike; permadeath, item randomization and the like. Don’t think about giving it a go before you’ve earned your roguelike blackbelt with these other titles… or, if you’ve played TOME.
Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead
We’ve certainly had our fill of zombie apocalypse games, but Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead could quite easily be the seminal survival game, long before we were treated to the likes of DayZ. You have to keep tabs on not only your character but also your individual body parts, and becoming maimed or seriously injured can, well, ruin your day, shall we say. You can choose to board yourself up in the forest and deal with threats piecemeal or venture out into the city with a noisy car and risk becoming a zombie snack. It’s all good and you gotta try it.
Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup
Although this is another candidate for “gateway” roguelike, it doesn’t dumb down things to rope in new converts. Rather, it makes it more accessible by including a detailed tutorial, mouse controls and a surprisingly intelligent training system that adapts itself to your skills. Best of all, it has tile graphics, so you can put aside your ASCII hate for just that much longer. A personal favorite feature is the existence of personal deities whom you worship and who judge you on your actions; a prototypical morality-based system. Of course, if you really want to have fun, you can choose to worship the god of chaos and watch the fireworks unfold…