There’s nothing quite like a good dungeon crawler, is there? That evergreen sensation of battering up some bad monsters, collecting loot, getting stronger and then repeating the whole thing again in new locations and against new baddies. It never gets old. So we thought it would be rather fabulous if we let you know what our favourite dungeon crawlers are – not least because there might be an overlooked game or two in this list that you haven’t heard of before. Onward, then, to discovery!
Curse of the Dead Gods
Curse of the Dead Gods plonks players into the well-worn adventuring clogs of a nameless mercenary who stumbles upon a temple literally stuffed to the brim with loot, danger and death. Though Curse of the Dead Gods embraces the standard dungeon crawler design bedrock of “smacking things until they don’t move anymore before scooping up the loot from their broken remains”, this is one just a little different from your usual dungeon crawlers.
You see, the titular Dead Gods aren’t especially chuffed that you’re rummaging around their digs and half-inching their treasures, so to even things up a bit they thrust a new curse upon you with each level of the temple that you enter. It’s essentially a double-edged sword; these curses not only have the potential to handicap your physical abilities, but they can also benefit you too, providing more loot in exchange for a smaller health bar. Look, Curse of the Dead Gods is basically great and very much overlooked, so get stuck in at the earliest opportunity.
A truly groundbreaking effort from the now-defunct Bullfrog, which was co-founded by industry veteran Peter Molyneux (of Fable fame). The legendary Dungeon Keeper flips the very notion of the traditional dungeon crawler on its head by putting players in charge of the baddies running said dungeons, rather than the heroes themselves.
Tasked with preventing an increasingly-powerful band of heroes from plundering your dungeon and murdering all of your evil mates, Dungeon Keeper remains a triumph of tactical design that only gets better with age. You’ll be kept busy by stuffing your nefarious creation with all manner of bad dudes, traps and much more besides, as well as seeking out rival Keepers and absolutely destroying them. It also doesn’t hurt that Dungeon Keeper is filled to the brim with dark satire and laugh-out-loud comedy too. A true classic.
Heroes of Hammerwatch
Don’t let the minimalist, 16-bit veneer of Heroes of Hammerwatch fool you; this is a dungeon crawler with depth and sophistication for days (well, years actually). Heroes of Hammerwatch has all the things you could want from a dungeon crawler – tons of loot, tons of new weapons and tons of different monsters to use them on.
Absolutely stuffed with all manner of dungeons, temples and castles set across a series of very different areas, where Heroes of Hammerwatch really excels is in the progression systems that it bestows upon the player. Though the expected levelling up and accumulation of new abilities do feature, Heroes of Hammerwatch also allows players to level up a whole town too, unlocking new skills, dungeon modifiers and upgrades in the process.
Representing a stellar marriage of Minecraft and the dungeon crawler genre, the superb Minecraft: Dungeons is a deliciously stylish and easily-accessible dungeon crawler that has players specialising their class and ploughing through a range of colourful worlds as they attempt to reach the nefarious Arch-Illager.
What Minecraft: Dungeons gets especially right, though, is the number of secrets that are stuffed into each level, all of which provide players with ample incentive to revisit seemingly already conquered areas.
Path of Exile
The longest free-to-play dungeon crawler ever, Path of Exile has spent many, many years building upon its initially humble launch, adding a seemingly endless avalanche of content to its base offering. Boasting a wide variety of classes, near-endless progression and a wealth of PvP opportunities in addition to a series of gargantuan, story-driven campaigns, Path of Exile is a great, no-cost way to get into dungeon crawlers. Coincidentally, it’s also a great, no-cost way to lose your social schedule in its entirety, too.
A dungeon crawler with style to spare, Victor Vran has a whole heap of things going for it that help to elevate it in the genre. First off, it has none other than Doug “Geralt” Cockle lending his tones to the titular character, while the actual action itself is far more physical than other games in the genre, as our hero can evade and leap around the place like a cat on crack.
Fundamentally solid with more than a dollop of satire, Victor Vran is the sort of immensely satisfying dungeon crawler that you can hop in and out of at a moment’s notice. What’s not to like?
That’s it for our favourite dungeon crawlers. Did your favourite make the list? Head over to our Community Forum to share your thoughts.