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Alternate floors in roguelikes

Gamingtodaynews1b - Alternate floors in roguelikes

So, the new Binding of Isaac expansion is out, and with it, a set of alternate floors. This presents an alternative route throughout the game, pretty much from the second floor onwards. It got me thinking about this topic, and I feel like getting the thoughts down

Of course, Isaac has had alternate paths for a long time. in the later floors, you can choose between going to… Forgot the names, basically heaven or hell. I think it's very different, considering that that's end game stuff, but with the new expansion, you can run pretty much to the end without seeing any of the original floors, apart from the first

It reminded me of two other roguelikes that did this: Coin Crypt and Spelunky 2

First, on Spelunky. Spelunky HD did have some optional alternative floors, namely the castle, the worm and the mothership. Going to the castle or the worm was very rarely worth it though, as, if you're going for a high score run, these floors just don't have as much money in them. The mothership, on the other hand, was always a good idea to visit, as it essentially gives you 2 extra floors instead of replacing one (which I guess makes it not an alternative floor, but instead an optional one)

In Spelunky 2, however, you're forced to choose between 2 different floors twice. The first choice is between the jungle or volcana, the second between temple or tidepool… Since the game's release, the community seems to agree that Volcana is just better than the jungle, and the tidepool is just better than the temple. I could go into the reasons for this, but I think it's slightly besides the point.


The other game, Coin Crypt, perhaps a less popular game, also got a DLC that brought in alternate paths. I'm not sure what the community consensus was, but for me, personally, not taking the alternate paths made me feel like I was "missing out"

Which brings me back to the new Isaac DLC… With a whole separate path being introduced, it makes me question if the normal route will still be popular at all. Maybe it's just my dumb monkey brain, but the few runs I've done that ended up with me going back onto the original path felt like losses (the alternate path has requirements to stay on it).

I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of this post is. I suppose we can discuss the pros and cons of having alternate paths. To me, right now, it feels like introducing alternate paths runs the risk of some parts being the preferred path, leaving the other paths somewhat abandoned. On top of that, going one path makes you lose out on what the other paths have to offer, which leads me to feel like you'd just choose the paths based on the ones that are most profitable.


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