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The map is hidden by fog of war until you explore it, meaning you can't devise a solution from the start. Because revealing the map regenerates your health and mana you can't explore everything at the start. You need to spend most of the game not knowing the state of the rest of the map. See More
There are 7 races and 12 classes that are combinable as well as 4 extra monster classes that do not allow choosing of race making for 112 unique combinations, all with their own custom avatar. There are also 6 additional special races as well as 9 different gods you can worship during the game for even more abilities. See More
Random chance isn't going to kill you, you are. In order to progress through the game, you must reach the exit to the room. If you happen to clear the room of enemies, a shrine will become available to you for that floor, offering a single heart upgrade, healing all of your currently missing health, or an upgrade to your character (better upgrades cost you some permanent health). So right off the bat, you have some easy decisions: Gamble with a permanent upgrade, or focus on just getting through the floor? Sure, you only have 4 actions (throw, jump, move, bash), but which one is the perfect choice at this point in time? Bash a bomb back into its thrower, or knock someone into lava? Jump over someone, decapitate them, and move out of harm's way? The game doesn't have many great unlockables, and most of the mystery comes down to new enemy types or new upgrades. But this lack of the unknown prevents you from dying from anything more than yourself. Your are your biggest enemy in this game, as your survival all comes down to you. See More
Starting on level 16, the altars get replaced by a portal. The player has the choice to "win" the game by exiting through the portal; or to ignore the portal on that level and venture deeper, aiming for higher scores on progressively more difficult floors. See More
Most roguelikes, that when the player dies sees that they looses everything upon death to be forced to start from scratch to play again. Road not Taken is similar but with one tweak that the game has an in game notebook that remembers the players discovered recipes, even after death. This way some info is retained after death that can help the player when they start over. See More