Rogue, the original Roguelike from 1980, is now available on Steam

(Image credit: Epyx)

"Roguelike" is a well-known genre of videogame: Spelunky 2, Noita, Hades, Demons Ate My Neighbors, Caves of Qud, Stoneshard, and Atomicrops are all relatively recent examples. But have you ever wondered where the name actually originated—or more to the point, wished you had a chance to actually play the ancient progenitor that started it all? Now you can, and on Steam no less, thanks to today's launch of the original Rogue, developed by Epyx and released all the way back in 1980.

(Purists may want to point out that the original Rogue was actually developed for Unix-based mainframes at the University of California, but if a history lesson is what you're after I'd recommend a jaunt over to Wikipedia.)

Rogue is a top-down dungeon romp on a 2D ASCII map comprised of rooms connected by angular hallways, filled with weapons, armor, magical items, food, potions, traps, and all sort of monsters to contend with. The job is simple: Get through 26 randomly-generated levels, find the Amulet of Yendor, and then escape. (FYI, it is not simple and you will probably never finish it.)

It's primitive, but it was also one of the best gaming experiences of its day. I have no idea how many hours I sunk into Rogue but it was a lot, and it spawned dozens of clones and variants—never forget that when you strip away all the bells and whistles, the Diablo games are straight-up rogue knock-offs, even right up to Diablo 4

That's not to say that I'm going to jump back in with both feet, but I've got a lot of nostalgia for this one and I'm looking forward to indulging it. Friendly tip—If you'd like to give it a go yourself, you'll find the full list of commands (it's controlled entirely through keyboard) through the "?" key.

Rogue on Steam requires a functional PC of some sort, doesn't really matter what as long as it's capable of running Windows 7, and will take up 5MB of drive space. You can find it listed under the "Roguelike" and "Traditional Roguelike" tags. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.