Yeah the probably definitely isn’t too many roguelikes or roguelites as recent games like Unexplored, Cogmind, Dead Cells, and the annual helping of 7drl games prove that there are still interesting and fun things this genre can do. I think the issue is that some games that are billed as roguelites don’t seem to understand what makes roguelikes really tick.
Part of what makes Spelunky not only a good game but a good roguelike/lite is it’s reverence towards roguelikes. One of my favorite things about playing roguelikes is learning how to safely and efficiently navigate their deadly worlds. The first few hours of Spelunky are so memorable as they have you learning how to traverse through spikes, arrows, and falls, how to approach the variety of enemies, and how to use the enemies and environment to your advantage. Flinthook doesn’t really have that. You don’t win when you improve your understanding of the world, you win when your platforming skills, buffs, and understanding of repeated rooms all combine together to get you to the end. Flinthook isn’t going to give you any stories about how you were able to defeat a devastating enemy using the environment or other enemies to kill it because it doesn’t give you any tools to make that possible.
There’s not really anything inherently bad about the clicking prefab rooms together method of roguelike design. It works in Binding of Isaac because there is such a wide variety of items and combinations for said items. Yeah you might be playing the same room for the 100th time but chances are that the items you found have changed your approach at least slightly. When you’re playing the same room for the 100th time probably the only difference is that your numbers might be a little higher. Flinthook does have some subweapons and and some perk that change the way your shot works, it’s just not really to the extent to really make an impact on the way you approach familiar challenges. Flinthook isn’t going to give you satisfying moments like plowing through with the perfect combo of weapons and items or making major progress in spite of being stuck with a limiting cursed item because, again, it doesn’t give you the tools to have those moments. Flinthook is particularly frustrating because they went through the trouble of designing the rooms so theoretically they could’ve just put those rooms together in a satisfying order rather than put them in a roguelike structure that doesn’t really play to the strengths of the existing mechanics.