Best Dungeon Crawlers
Dungeon crawlers have long captivated gamers with their immersive gameplay, treacherous dungeons, and thrilling encounters. These games invite players to delve into the depths of perilous labyrinths, facing off against hordes of enemies, solving puzzles, and unearthing hidden treasures. Here is the list of the top 10 best Dungeon crawlers as of 2023:
Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Path of Exile
Grinding Gear Games
The Binding of Isaac
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Larian Studios / Robert Court
Iron Lore Entertainment
Top 10 Dungeon Crawlers
Whether exploring vast underground caverns, ancient ruins, or otherworldly dimensions, the best dungeon crawlers offer a sense of discovery and progression that keeps players engaged for hours on end. From acquiring powerful weapons and equipment to unlocking devastating spells and abilities, the journey through these games is a constant evolution of power and mastery.
With their blend of exploration, combat, and character development, the best dungeon crawlers continue to captivate gamers and transport them to worlds of adventure. Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a newcomer to the genre, these games offer an enticing escape into the depths of imagination, where danger and glory await at every turn. Get ready to embark on epic quests, face fearsome foes, and uncover untold treasures as you enter the realm of the best dungeon crawlers.
1. Diablo II (Blizzard North)
Diablo II, developed by Blizzard North and published by Blizzard Entertainment, diverged from the gothic visuals of its predecessor to adopt a surprisingly cartoonish art style. However, this shift in visual tone did not detract from the game’s overall quality and improvement over the original Diablo. With the addition of two extra character classes, bringing the total to five, Diablo II offered players a wider range of options to battle against hordes of demons.
Compared to its predecessor, Diablo II felt smoother, more robust, and less dated even to this day, despite only being released four years later. One significant enhancement was the introduction of a multiplayer mode, which allowed players to team up and confront the forces of evil together. This addition further expanded the game’s appeal, as players could now experience the thrill of cooperative gameplay, making the sequel even more engaging and enjoyable.
While the Diablo series has often been criticized for its weak storytelling, Diablo II managed to deliver a compelling narrative through memorable cutscenes. The return of Diablo, the involvement of archangels, and the unfolding events all contributed to creating a captivating storyline that complemented the game’s action-packed gameplay.
Overall, Diablo II was a significant step forward for the series, offering improved gameplay mechanics, expanded character options, and a multiplayer mode that added a new layer of excitement. Its enduring popularity can be attributed to its timeless appeal and the lasting impact it has had on the action RPG genre.
2. Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of AMN (BioWare)
Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, developed by BioWare and published by Black Isle Studios, stands as a timeless example of the quality games that BioWare has produced. While BioWare’s gaming style may have evolved over the years, their classic titles continue to captivate players.
Shadows of Amn picks up the story immediately after the events of the original Baldur’s Gate, allowing players to import their character and carry over their progress seamlessly. This feature ensures that players do not lose the hours they invested in their character’s development. While the sequel reduced the grind of leveling up, the level cap from Baldur’s Gate prevents players from becoming overly powerful in Shadows of Amn, maintaining a balanced progression.
Shadows of Amn aimed to appeal to a broader audience by making the gameplay more accessible. It introduced faster-paced and more fluid combat mechanics, enhancing the overall experience. The game featured a larger and more compelling story, building upon the success of its predecessor. BioWare’s commitment to creating a robust and immersive world is evident in the improvements made in this sequel.
Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn represents a significant advancement over the already successful original game. Its accessibility, improved combat, and expanded narrative make it a standout title from BioWare’s portfolio. The enduring appeal of Shadows of Amn showcases the lasting impact of BioWare’s ability to deliver high-quality gaming experiences.
3. Diablo (Blizzard North)
Diablo, developed by Blizzard North and published by Blizzard Entertainment, holds a significant place in gaming history as one of the most influential dungeon crawler games. Released in 1997, it captivated players by immersing them in a dark and gothic world. The game revolves around the player assuming the role of an adventurer who ventures into the town of Tristram to combat the evil forces plaguing it.
Within the eerie halls of a nearby cathedral, players encounter a myriad of horrifying creatures such as skeletons, fiends, and other monstrosities that pose a threat to the mortal realm. Diablo’s gameplay is characterized by its deliberate and slow-paced approach, emphasizing the exploration of treacherous labyrinthine dungeons.
Players have access to character-specific magic abilities as well as a range of mortal weapons, empowering them to navigate through hellish landscapes, caverns, and other perilous environments on their quest to defeat the Lord of Terror, the ultimate antagonist behind it all.
Over the years, Diablo has left an indelible mark on the gaming industry, serving as a blueprint and inspiration for numerous developers in the creation of modern dungeon crawler games. Its atmospheric setting, engaging gameplay mechanics, and memorable encounters with fearsome creatures like the Butcher and the corrupted Archbishop Lazarus have left a lasting impression on those who have experienced the haunting depths of Tristram.
Although playing the original Diablo today can be challenging due to its age, the impact it has had on the gaming landscape is undeniable. Its enduring legacy as a pioneer in the dungeon crawler genre continues to be felt, with subsequent titles and the franchise as a whole building upon the foundations established by this influential classic.
4. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (Snowblind Studios)
While one could argue that Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance bears similarities to Diablo, dismissing it as a mere clone would overlook the game’s ability to surpass Blizzard’s dungeon crawler with its flashier gameplay and deeper playstyle.
In Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, players traverse a 3D world filled with various types of enemies that pose a threat to their quest. As they progress, they gather loot, including weapons and powerful magic, equipping themselves to overcome the villains standing in their way. The game offers a satisfying sense of empowerment as players unleash devastating abilities and decimate their foes.
What sets Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance apart is its accessibility and forgiving nature compared to other games in the genre. Snowblind Studios, utilizing the Dark Alliance Engine, worked diligently to create a distinctive dungeon crawler that stands out visually and mechanically. The game’s engaging gameplay, combined with its visually appealing aesthetics, allows it to establish its own identity while still delivering an immersive and enjoyable experience.
While it’s true that Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance shares similarities with Diablo and other dungeon crawlers, it manages to carve its own path by offering a unique blend of gameplay elements. The game’s ability to captivate players with its flashier combat, deeper mechanics, and distinct visual style solidifies its position as more than just a clone, deserving recognition in its own right.
5. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire (Obsidian Entertainment)
In Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Versus Evil, the world of Eora faces imminent destruction as the god of light and rebirth, Eothas, awakens beneath the Watcher stronghold. Players once again assume the role of the Watcher from the first Pillars of Eternity game, tasked with stopping Eothas’ rampage and saving the world.
As the Watcher, players wield powerful spells and lead a party of customizable companions on their quest. The game emphasizes the importance of relationships, as players’ interactions and choices with companions can have a significant impact on gameplay and the overall story. The journey takes players across Eora, where they confront and vanquish the evils that have befallen the world.
Pillars of Eternity II expands upon the foundation set by its predecessor, offering a visually stunning experience and deeper gameplay mechanics. The game’s visuals are captivating, immersing players in a beautifully crafted world. The character customization options are extensive, allowing players to create a hero tailored to their preferred playstyle and capable of taking on the formidable challenge of bringing down Eothas.
With its rich storytelling, strategic combat, and intricate world-building, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire offers an engaging and immersive role-playing experience. The game’s emphasis on player choice and consequence, coupled with its expanded gameplay mechanics, ensures that players will find themselves returning to the world of Eora time and time again.
6. Path of Exile (Grinding Gear Games)
Released in 2013, Path of Exile, developed and published by Grinding Gear Games, introduced a fresh take on the dungeon crawler genre by offering a remarkable level of customization. While it draws inspiration from classic dungeon crawlers, Path of Exile distinguishes itself through its extensive customization options, providing players with a unique and personalized experience.
One of the standout features of Path of Exile is the ability to craft and shape your hero according to your preferences. The game offers a vast array of customization choices, allowing players to tailor their characters’ skills, abilities, and equipment to create the perfect build for battling hordes of enemies. This emphasis on customization adds depth and replayability, as players can experiment with various playstyles and find the one that suits them best.
In addition to character customization, Path of Exile introduces scattered hideouts that serve as player hubs. These hideouts can be personally designed and decorated, although they primarily serve a cosmetic purpose. Nonetheless, they provide players with a sense of ownership and serve as waypoints to aid them in their adventure, further enhancing the game’s unique gameplay experience.
When not engaged in hideout customization, players venture into the game world, unleashing magical spells and utilizing a wide range of skills to combat their foes. Furthermore, Path of Exile offers competitive player-versus-player (PvP) multiplayer, enabling players to engage in thrilling battles against other players, should they desire a more challenging and competitive experience.
Through its emphasis on customization, player-owned hideouts, and engaging gameplay mechanics, Path of Exile offers a distinct and memorable dungeon crawler experience. Its ability to cater to individual playstyles and provide unique gameplay elements helps set it apart from similar titles in the genre, making it a beloved choice for fans of action RPGs.
7. Torchlight 2 (Runic Games)
Torchlight 2, developed and published by Runic Games, builds upon the success of its predecessor to deliver an enhanced dungeon crawling experience. In this action-packed game, players assume the role of one of four different classes, embarking on a grand adventure through the expansive world surrounding the town of Torchlight.
As expected from a dungeon crawler, Torchlight 2 inundates players with waves of enemies, providing them with the exhilarating opportunity to engage in fast-paced combat. Armed with a variety of weapons and skills, players can slice and dice their way through hordes of adversaries, reveling in the joy of vanquishing their foes.
One of the standout features of Torchlight 2 is its class customization. Players have the freedom to personalize their character’s abilities and playstyle, allowing for diverse and unique approaches to combat. Additionally, the game features randomized worlds, ensuring that each playthrough offers a fresh and distinct experience.
Loot plays a significant role in Torchlight 2, with valuable treasures scattered throughout the environment. As players battle their way through countless enemies, they have the opportunity to acquire a wide range of equipment and items to enhance their characters’ power and capabilities.
Improving upon the shortcomings of its predecessor, Torchlight 2 delivers a memorable experience filled with epic boss battles and exciting rewards. The game’s addictive gameplay, coupled with its satisfying loot system and class customization, keeps players engaged and eager to explore the expansive world of Torchlight.
8. The Binding of Isaac (Edmund McMillen)
The Binding of Isaac, developed by Edmund McMillen and published by Florian Himsl/Edmund McMillen, offers a unique and dark twist on the dungeon crawler genre. In this game, players take control of the young protagonist, Isaac, as he embarks on a treacherous journey through the nightmarish dungeons beneath his own basement.
The game’s narrative draws inspiration from the story of Isaac found in Genesis 22 of the Hebrew Bible. Isaac’s mother, influenced by a mysterious voice, is compelled to sacrifice her own son. Disliking this fate, Isaac decides to confront the horrific creatures lurking beneath his home instead.
The dungeons that Isaac navigates are procedurally generated, ensuring that each playthrough offers a fresh and unpredictable experience. Within these levels, players encounter grotesque and malevolent creatures relentlessly pursuing the small hero. Fortunately, Isaac possesses a unique defense mechanism: his tears, which serve as projectiles in the game’s twin-stick shooter mechanics.
The Binding of Isaac features fast-paced gameplay and presents players with a wide variety of upgrades and power-ups, some beneficial and others potentially dangerous. With 13 different endings to discover, players are encouraged to replay the game multiple times to unlock the various story outcomes and uncover its secrets.
The Binding of Isaac stands apart from typical dungeon crawlers with its disturbing narrative and dark themes. Its procedurally generated levels, intense gameplay, and numerous endings provide an engaging and replayable experience for players seeking a challenging and unconventional dungeon crawling adventure.
9. Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Larian Studios / Robert Court)
The original Divinity game introduced a refreshing take on the dungeon crawler genre, featuring its own unique blend of humor and storytelling. The top-down RPG captivated players with its engaging narrative, which continued to evolve in Divinity: Original Sin 2, centuries later.
While the mechanics of the original game may have initially appeared overwhelming to some players, they ultimately contributed to a feature-rich experience. Divinity: Original Sin 2 builds upon this foundation, introducing numerous upgrades and improvements. These include the ability to choose a race for your character, more dynamic relationships with companions, an expanded store system, balanced mechanics, and even a PvP arena for competitive gameplay.
Opinions may differ on which of the two games is superior, but Divinity: Original Sin 2 stands out with its enhanced experience and larger-scale story. The game offers a deeper level of immersion, providing players with a rich and expansive world to explore. However, it is highly recommended to also experience the original Divinity game, as it too delivers a phenomenal dungeon crawling experience.
Both Divinity and Divinity: Original Sin 2 offer exceptional dungeon crawler experiences. The original game set the stage with its humor and storytelling, while the sequel expands upon it with additional features and a more immersive narrative. Both titles are highly regarded in the genre and offer players hours of enjoyable gameplay.
10. Titan Quest (Iron Lore Entertainment)
Titan Quest, developed by Iron Lore Entertainment and published by THQ Nordic, offers players an exciting dungeon crawler experience with a unique twist. This game takes players on an epic journey through Ancient Greece and Egypt, pitting them against legendary monsters drawn from well-known mythologies.
One of the standout features of Titan Quest is its diverse array of enemies. From fearsome creatures of Greek and Egyptian mythology to other classic monsters, players will face a thrilling lineup of adversaries throughout their adventure. The game’s immersive setting and mythological creatures add an extra layer of excitement and wonder to the gameplay.
While Titan Quest doesn’t stray far from the core mechanics and gameplay elements typically found in dungeon crawlers, this familiarity doesn’t detract from its overall appeal. The game strikes a balance between delivering a familiar experience and offering enough unique elements to set it apart from other titles in the genre. It manages to capture the essence of the genre while providing its own distinct flavor.
As players progress through the game, they will have the opportunity to strengthen their character, unlocking powerful skills and acquiring a formidable arsenal. These advancements empower players, making them feel capable of taking on the towering monstrosities that stand in their path. The sense of progression and the satisfaction of acquiring new abilities and equipment are key components of the game’s appeal.
Popular Dungeon Crawlers
Dungeon crawlers have amassed a dedicated following of gamers who relish the thrill of exploring treacherous labyrinths and battling formidable foes. Within this beloved genre, several titles have risen to prominence, captivating players with their unique gameplay mechanics, immersive worlds, and captivating narratives. Here are some of the most popular dungeon crawlers that have captured the hearts of adventurers worldwide:
Hades: Developed by Supergiant Games, Hades is a unique dungeon crawler with a roguelike twist. Set in the Greek underworld, players control Zagreus, the son of Hades, as he battles his way through ever-changing chambers filled with mythical creatures. With its stylish art, engaging narrative, and addictive gameplay, Hades has received critical acclaim.
Minecraft Dungeons: This spin-off of the popular sandbox game Minecraft, developed by Mojang Studios, offers a family-friendly dungeon crawling experience. Players venture through various levels, fighting hordes of enemies and collecting powerful gear. With its accessible gameplay and cooperative multiplayer, Minecraft Dungeons appeals to a wide range of players.
Children of Morta: Developed by Dead Mage, Children of Morta combines dungeon crawling with a captivating story about a family of heroes defending their homeland. Players take on the roles of different family members, each with unique abilities, as they battle through procedurally generated dungeons. With its beautiful pixel art and emotional narrative, Children of Morta has garnered praise from players and critics alike.
Risk of Rain 2: This sequel to the indie hit Risk of Rain, developed by Hopoo Games, offers a cooperative multiplayer dungeon crawling experience with a unique 3D perspective. Players navigate through alien landscapes, battling challenging enemies and collecting powerful items. With its fast-paced gameplay and dynamic difficulty scaling, Risk of Rain 2 provides a thrilling and unpredictable adventure.
These are just a few examples of the popular dungeon crawlers that have left a lasting impact on the gaming community. Each title offers its own unique blend of exploration, combat, and character progression, inviting players to embark on epic quests and discover the mysteries hidden within the depths. Whether you prefer the gothic horrors of Diablo or the challenging trials of Dark Souls, the world of dungeon crawlers is brimming with thrilling adventures waiting to be explored.
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