The term 'roguelike' gets thrown around quite a lot, often as serviceable if somewhat sloppy shorthand for games with permadeath and procedurally generated levels and characters, but Cogmind is genuinely like 1980's Rogue, the text-based dungeon-crawler that started it all. It's flashier, sci-fi and considerably more expansive, but Cogmind echoes Rogue's minimalist retro design. It recently came to Steam Early Access and is currently on sale for $17.99. This discount runs through Monday, October 23, after which Cogmind will go for $19.99.
Cogmind takes place in a world ruled by robots. Players assume the role of the titular Cogmind and, on their quest for self-discovery, must fend off "dozens of robot classes, each with unique behavior within the ecosystem." As previously reported, by defeating and salvaging parts from other robots, you can expand your arsenal of abilities.
As you explore, you collect and attach new parts, building up your robot. But you can lose parts as well, so rebuilding is also critical. Developer Grid Sage Games, which really only consists of solo developer Josh Ge, says there are nearly 1,000 unique parts to find and salvage.
You'll also find impressive variety in Cogmind's fully destructible world, which features dozens of map types, hundreds of NPCs and seven different endings. Its turn-based combat is omnipresent, but stealth is also a focus, with systems like hackable terminals promoting sneakier play. Perhaps most impressively, Ge says Cogmind has "more [sound effects] than any roguelike, ever" and nearly 1,000 pieces of ASCII-inspired art which shape a finely crafted sci-fi aesthetic, all green text scrolling across layers of monitors and menus, but still clean and accessible.
Although Cogmind hasn't technically officially released, Ge says the Early Access version is "a very complete experience." It will remain in Early Access for "at least six months" while bells and whistles are added, but the main game is "essentially complete." Ge says a price increase is not planned upon exiting Early Access.
Cogmind has certainly been a long time coming. Ge says he's put roughly 8,000 hours into it in the four years it's been in full-time development, and we first covered it back in July 2015. More recently, we highlighted it in our look at boundary-pushing roguelikes. You can watch its alpha launch trailer below.