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Updated 08-24-2011
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Cardinal Quest

A few years ago, one of my best friends bought Baroque, an Atlus-published roguelike, after I turned him onto Persona 3. It didn't go well: lured by the Atlus name and the misconception that Baroque was another RPG, he wasn't ready for the strictures of perma-death.

Roguelikes are unabashedly brutal, but I think the bait-and-switch is part of the frustration. How many people bought Shiren the Wanderer or, to a lesser extent, Demon's Souls only to get crushed underfoot?

Enter Cardinal Quest, the goodwill ambassador for the entire genre. Ido Yehieli's tile-based dungeon-crawl isn't any less punishing -- I died four times in quick succession -- but it's packed with elegant, streamlined ideas that do much to lower the barriers to entry.

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