Dungeons are dank, grimy, and full of spiders. Who would want to go crawling around in them? Oh, only the greatest adventurers the gaming industry has ever known, that’s who.
The dungeon crawler genre puts us in the shoes of the bravest sword-wielding, magic-throwing, loot-loving heroes as we explore levels upon levels of dark and claustrophobic dungeons. Filled to the brim with monsters, these locations should scare us, but there’s a thrill that comes with clearing out every floor of its malicious infestation and hunting down the rarest treasures.
The following games represent the best dungeon crawler games on the market. They’ll take you to distant lands to face off against unspeakable evils and will leave you hooked and begging for more.
The Best Dungeon Crawlers
15. Grim Dawn
Developer: Crate Entertainment Publisher: Crate Entertainment
In a ravaged world where there is little hope for humanity, heroes emerge, imbued with the powers of the enemies to lead a resistance and save mankind. Grim Dawn sends players to battle the unspeakable horrors of Cairn, a world overtaken by dark forces from distant worlds.
Players combine two of six different classes, each one powered by 25 unique skills that can turn the tide of war. Across the surface world and through rogue-like dungeons, otherworldly horrors await to prevent the rise of the resistance, which aims to use the powers of humans empowered by contact with the alien beings to reclaim Cairn.
Grim Dawn features extensive crafting with over 250 recipes, locked dungeons, plenty of secrets to scour the world for, and quests that come with unique consequences, all of which are linked together by the game’s fast-paced combat.
14. Enter the Gungeon
Developer: Dodge Roll Publisher: Devolver Digital
There is nothing that says a dungeon crawler has to take itself seriously. Most do, but Dodge Roll opted for something quirkier when it developed Enter the Gungeon. It’s a dungeon crawler-shooter that will have you flipping tables and round-house kicking barrels to locate helpful items as you progress through the Gungeon.
As you can guess by the title, your weapon of choice is firearms, which are available in a robust variety, each one providing you with an edge over your armed opposition. As you progress through the labyrinthian fortress and clear out areas, the Gungeon will be sure to return the favor by throwing even more perils at you. Every victory you earn is another opportunity for imminent death later in the dungeon.
From shotguns to AK-47s and more specialized weapons, you’ll collect hundreds of different firearms to make you feel like a dungeon-crawling John Wick.
Developer: Runic Games Publisher: Runic Games
If it’s a hack and slash, isometric dungeon crawler that you’re looking for, Torchlight is your game. Featuring fast-paced, exciting gameplay, Torchlight sends players through dungeons surrounding the town of Torchlight to battle the scourge that’s moved in and corrupted everything it touches.
Torchlight features randomized levels so every playthrough feels fresh and new. You’ll never know what’s coming for you as you plow through monsters and solve puzzles to uncover hidden treasures and helpful items.
There is a lot to enjoy about Torchlight, but it’s the mod support that really shines. Runic Games made everything it used to craft the dungeon crawler available for players looking to alter their gameplay experience and craft new places to explore.
12. Legend of Grimrock
Developer: Almost Human Games Publisher: Almost Human Games
Dungeon crawlers can present themselves in different fashions. While many opt for the top-down view, games like Legend of Grimrock aim to offer something somewhat different. The old-school gameplay is charming without feeling antiquated and gives players a nice break from the typical formats.
Legend of Grimrock charges you to explore a labyrinth of tunnels and secrets with a party of four heroes at your disposal. Use their unique skills and traits and weapons looted from the environment to take on the monsters that stand in your way. These fiends aren’t the only thing stopping you on this journey as every step can put you in danger. Pressure plates and trap doors line the floors of the Mount Grimrock dungeons, forcing you to watch your step.
The game is also best known for its Dungeon Editor, which allows players to create their own challenges or play those of other crafty individuals.
11. Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan
Developer: Atlus Publisher: Atlus USA
In a series that’s run for as long as Etrian Odyssey, it’s often difficult to determine which is most worth playing over the others. I struggled a bit to pick between a few, so I turned to the Internet to act as the swing vote. As it turns out, people, including myself, really love Etrian Odyssey IV.
The 3DS dungeon crawler doesn’t change too much from its predecessors, save for things like an overworld and using 3D models, so it has to rely on the story to shine. In it, players arrive in Tharsis in hopes of finding fame and fortune. Of course, things don’t go quite as planned and players are thrust into an epic adventure involving an underground empire and the mysterious Yggdrasil tree.
Commanding a party of different classes, including Dancers, Runemasters, Medics, and Snipers, players tackle enemies in turn-based combat. It’s gameplay isn’t revolutionary and if you’ve played one turn-based RPG, you know what to expect, but Etrian Odyssey IV offers a surprisingly engaging experience for the handheld console.
10. Titan Quest
Developer: Iron Lore Entertainment Publisher: THQ Nordic
Sometimes, the best part of the best dungeon crawler games is the enemies you face. That’s especially true with Iron Lore Entertainment’s Titan Quest. The game takes players on a grand adventure across Ancient Greece and Egypt to battle it out against classic monsters pulled from well-known mythologies.
The game doesn’t make incredible strides to deviate its gameplay and core mechanics from other dungeon crawlers, but that isn’t really a strike against it. Titan Quest may feel familiar, but there is enough to keep you from accusing it of being a clone of other games of the genre.
As you build up your character’s strength and travel across these mythical lands, you’ll unlock powerful skills and locate a devastating arsenal that will make you feel like you can take on the towering atrocities that stand in your way. If that isn’t enticing enough, I’m not sure what would be.
9. Divinity: Original Sin 2
Developer: Larian Studios / Robert Court Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
The original Divinity title was a welcomed addition to the dungeon crawler genre. The top-down RPG featured its own brand of humor and storytelling that worked well to create an engaging narrative that continued centuries later in Original Sin 2.
Some may have found the mechanics of the original to be a bit overwhelming, but after some time, it lent to a feature-rich experience that is expanded upon in the sequel. Original Sin 2 includes many upgrades to the original concept, including the ability to choose a race, more dynamic relationships with companions, a deeper store, more balanced mechanics, and a PvP arena.
Players may go back and forth on which of the two games is better, but Original Sin 2’s more robust experience and bigger story elevate it just a bit. However, it’s well worth downloading the original as it, too, is a phenomenal dungeon crawler.
8. The Binding of Isaac
Developer: Edmund McMillen Publisher: Florian Himsl / Edmund McMillen
The Binding of Isaac isn’t your typical dungeon crawler. By that, I mean you play as the juvenile titular character as he battles his way through nightmarish fiends roaming about the dungeons beneath his basement.
Based on the story pulled from Genesis 22 of the Hebrew Bible, Isaac’s mother is persuaded into killing her son from a mysterious voice from above. Not quite enjoying this outcome, Isaac decides to try his luck with the monstrosities that live beneath him.
And boy are they monstrous. Each procedurally generated level is full of grotesque creatures hellbent on devouring the small hero. Thankfully, Isaac comes packed with his own defense – his tears.
The twin-stick shooter is fast-paced and features a host of fun and helpful upgrades (as well as a few dangerous buffs). With 13 endings to earn, players have plenty of reason to go back and replay The Binding of Isaac.
7. Torchlight 2
Developer: Runic Games Publisher: Runic Games
Building upon the success of its predecessor, Torchlight 2 is an improved model that pits players in the role of four different classes on a journey across the vast world surrounding the titular town. As with any good dungeon crawler, Torchlight 2 throws armies of enemies your way, which you get the joy of slicing and dicing through using an assortment of weapons and skills.
The fast-paced gameplay offers class customization and spans randomized worlds for a unique playthrough every time. Torchlight II is heavy on the loot, which scatters throughout the environment as you frantically battle against hordes upon hordes of enemies.
The sequel to the popular 2009 dungeon crawler improves upon many of the original’s shortcomings, delivering on a memorable experience filled with epic boss battles and exciting treasures.
6. Path of Exile
Developer: Grinding Gear Games Publisher: Grinding Gear Games
In 2013, Grinding Gear Games took a proven concept and added something most players love – customization. Path of Exile borrows plenty from classic dungeon crawlers, but that doesn’t take away from the unique experience provided by the ample customization options.
When you’re not crafting the perfect hero to take on swarms of enemies, you’ll spend some time in scattered hideouts that you design and decorate to your liking. Though they’re primarily cosmetic, these hubs serve as waypoints to aid you on your adventure. It’s not much, but any bit of unique gameplay helps elevate Path of Exile above similar titles.
When you’re not busy slapping a new coat of paint on your hideout, you’ll be out in the world, firing off magic spells and utilizing skills to take on your foe. If you’re feeling brave enough, you can tackle the competitive PvP multiplayer and take down other players. It’s also free.
5. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment Publisher: Versus Evil
When Eothas, the god of light and rebirth, awakens under the Watcher stronghold, the world of Eora falls under the threat of ruin. As the violent god rampages across the world, players resume the role of the Watcher from Pillars of Eternity in an attempt to put an end to Eothas’ reign.
To succeed in his journey, the Watcher comes equipped with powerful spells and a party of customizable companions. Build relationships and watch their effect on your gameplay as you clear Eora of the evils that befell it.
Pillars of Eternity II expands upon its predecessor, offering a visually stunning experience and deeper mechanics sure to keep you returning time and time again. With deep character customization, players will be able to forge a hero capable of bringing down Eothas.
4. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance
Developer: Snowblind Studios Publisher: Black Isle Studios
Is Baldur’s Gate a Diablo clone? Sure, you could make the argument, however, it would mean overlooking the game’s ability to almost rise above Blizzard’s dungeon crawler with flashier gameplay and a deeper playstyle.
As you trek across the 3D world, various types of enemies threaten to end your quest early. With loot you pick up along the way, various weapons, and powerful magic, these villains don’t stand a chance against your hero.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is an accessible dungeon crawler that’s far-less punishing than other games within the genre. Using the Dark Alliance Engine, Snowblind Studios crafted a unique dungeon crawler that works hard to stand out, both visually and mechanically.
Developer: Blizzard North Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
It certainly wasn’t the first dungeon crawler, but Diablo was one of the most influential. Players take on the role of an adventurer seeking to rid the town of Tristram of the evil that plagues it. In the dank and darkened halls of a nearby cathedral, they find hordes of skeletons, fiends, and other horrors that threaten the mortal plane.
Diablo is a slow-paced gothic horror that charges players with working their way down the dangerous labyrinth. With character-specific magic abilities and a selection of mortal weapons at their disposal, they’ll scour dungeons, hellscapes, caverns, and so much more on their quest to slay the Lord of Terror behind it all.
Since its release in 1997, Diablo has inspired many developers and became a blueprint for many modern dungeon crawlers. While finding a way to play it today is quite the chore, those that experienced the haunting underbelly of Tristram never forget ghastly hellbeasts like the Butcher and the corrupted Archbishop Lazarus.
2. Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn
Developer: BioWare Publisher: Black Isle Studios
BioWare’s specific brand of gaming may have changed a bit during the current generation, but its classic titles are timeless. Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn is a clear indicator of the quality that we became used to from the studio.
Shadows of Amn follows the events of the original Baldur’s Gate, starting immediately after it concluded. The continuation allows players to import their character, ensuring they don’t lose out on the hours spent and progress made. While it cut down on the grind of leveling up, the level cap from Baldur’s Gate ensured players weren’t too powerful for the sequel.
Shadows of Amn is a bit more accessible and features faster-paced and more fluid combat to appeal to a larger audience. With a bigger and better story and a more robust experience, BioWare’s sequel was a notable improvement over a game that had already shown much success.
1. Diablo II
Developer: Blizzard North Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
The original Diablo put a heavy focus on creating a more horrific tone. Its monsters were gruesome and the atmosphere gloomy. The sequel took a very sharp turn away from the gothic visuals for something surprisingly cartoonish.
Of course, that’s not to say Diablo II wasn’t a great improvement over the original. After fighting through swarms of demons as any of the game’s five classes (a jump from the original’s three), it was difficult to go back to the predecessor. Diablo II is smoother, more robust, and, even today, doesn’t feel nearly as antiquated as the original, which is only four years its senior.
I could get into the story elements, which have always been the series’ weakest points, but all you need to know is that Diablo is back, archangels are involved, and some of it unfolds in some truly memorable cutscenes.
Diablo II introduced a multiplayer mode that allowed players to battle the forces of evil together. It was the perfect upgrade needed for a sequel that was bigger, faster, and brimming with things to slay.
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