Astonishingly, Balatro's creator had never even played Slay the Spire and intentionally "cut myself off" from roguelikes to create the best game possible

 Balatro Joker card.
Balatro Joker card.

Poker-themed deckbuilder Balatro is finding huge success, but its creator explains that they actively avoided similar roguelikes to engineer the best game possible.

Developer Localthunk recently held a Q&A session on Reddit where one player asked about what influenced the enigmatic creator, and whether other card-based roguelikes had made their way into Baltro's DNA. Surprisingly, the game's biggest influence was another deckbuiding roguelike, but not the one you might guess.

"The one largest influence on Balatro was Luck Be A Landlord," Localthunk revealed. Watching YouTuber Northernlion play the game "for a few videos" made the developer fall in love with the concept of a "non-fantasy themed score-attached roguelike a ton." Localthunk then "modified" the card game they were already developing to fit within the roguelike structure.

Aside from Luck Be A Landlord (which is actually discounted on Steam right now), Localthunk explains that they consciously avoided the genre. "I cut myself off from the genre at that point intentionally," they explain, "I wanted to make my own mistakes and explore the design space naively just because that process is so fun."

Localthunk says they hear the Slay the Spire comparisons "a lot," but astonishingly, the developer has never played or seen footage from the other smash hit card-based roguelike on the market. At least, not until "much later."

The unconventional research process still yielded unbelievable results. Balatro rocketed past 500,000 sales in only 10 days, a result that the developer didn't expect until "the day before launch." Rating boards recently threw a snag in the road when one accused the game of promoting gambling, which left the developer "disappointed" that actual gambling games weren't held to the same standards.

Check out how we ranked the best roguelike games available now.