Tales of Maj'Eyal is a roguelike with plenty of accessibility features for those who balk at more traditional roguelikes' tendency toward obtuse interfaces and low-fidelity audio and video features. The game also features a robust user interface that allows for a control-panel feel, with powers and their cool down and resource amounts prominently displayed; quick access to inventory; optional daylight and atmospheric effects; damage numbers, status effects, and power availability messages that appear over your character or enemy characters for ease of play. The standard tileset and the optional music are quite advanced compared to the game's roguelike counterparts, if you're into roguelikes with a little more flair.
Players unlock races and classes by discovering archetypal examples in the game world, as well as an alternate mode. Identification of items is made easy, some would argue too easy, by the inclusion of an item that identifies most items when you stand over them, and unique items when you invoke its powers, allowing for the sense of discovery without too much time investment.
The overworld and towns are standardized, but the set dungeon locations are randomized, as are their loot, layout, and some of their monsters, although monsters tend to be themed within each location. There are also random locations that can lead to extra adventures. The game's difficulty varies depending upon the area being explored, but there is moderate scaling for unexplored areas.
The game is free and open source and can be downloaded on the official website. In 2013, a commercial version was made available for purchase from online stores such as Steam and Desura. This version unlocks a few extra features such as custom player tile graphics and an online vault for transferring items between characters. These features are also granted to players who donate to the developer directly.
ToME began in the late 1990s as a rewrite of PernAngband 5.x, which itself was a variant of the open source roguelike Angband. Throughout its history, ToME's development has primarily been led by an individual known as "darkgod." Around 2002, PernAngband was retitled to Tales of Middle Earth or Troubles of Middle Earth, and its references to Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern fiction were excised and replaced with Tolkien-themed elements. Versions of ToME 1 and ToME 2 were released throughout the middle part of the decade, up to at least 2008. ToME 2 was notable for introducing several experimental and over-the-top concepts. For example, one of the player races was Death Mold, a sentient fungus that lacked the ability to walk. The player would have to rely on on blink and teleport spells to move. Another unusual option was the ability to create a character as a Lost Soul, meaning that a new level 1 character would start in the Halls of Mandos, a level 98 dungeon. Obviously, most Lost Souls would be killed nearly instantly, but sometimes through use of luck, clever tactics, and/or abuse of stair-scumming, a Lost Soul could survive and escape the dungeon, having gained a great head start from the high-level treasure found within.
The next major revision was ToME 4, which was built in and released alongside T-Engine 4, a new game engine. At this point, the Middle Earth references were also toned down or removed, and the game was renamed to Tales of Maj'Eyal. ToME 4 first introduced the more graphical user interface, including the MMO-like action bar.