I was scrolling through my game library the other day when I noticed something striking. Turns out, the majority of the games I’ve played in the past year have been dungeon crawlers! Who woulda guessed?

I suppose there is something cathartic about having gold and goodies literally explode out of an enemy after you’ve killed them — a reward in more ways than one. Beyond that, however, I think it’s that they so frequently have varying levels of intensity. It doesn’t take a lot to be good at most dungeon crawlers (depending on your difficulty setting), but a single dungeon can be home to both pretty basic fights and the most hectic and fast-paced battles you’ve encountered in the campaign so far. It’s fun and engaging and simple – and it doesn’t get much better than that.

I’d like to take a moment to share some of the best dungeon crawlers with you and explore this fascinating genre in more depth. Ready to enter the dungeon? Let’s get started.

Top 10 Best Dungeon Crawlers

In the list below, we’ve curated some of the best dungeon crawlers on the market.

1. Children of Morta

Children of Morta
  • Developer: Dead Mage
  • Release Date: September 3, 2019
  • System(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Children of Morta holds its hopeful theme close to the heart, championing the power of love in the face of darkness and adversity. The game follows the Bergsons, a family of warriors that act as wardens against a mysterious corruption encroaching on the land and its inhabitants. 

The game is classified as a rogue-lite, combining procedurally-generated dungeons with grinding and looting opportunities that grant experience points and tidbits of lore. Like most rogue-lites, you can repeat the dungeons time and time again to find new relics and treasures for use in future runs.

The idea of familial love penetrates every aspect of Children of Morta’s gameplay, with each Bergson offering their unique talents and passives that bolster the power of other characters. Check out our review for a more detailed breakdown!

2. Darksiders Genesis

Darksiders Genesis
  • Developer: Airship Syndicate
  • Release Date: December 5, 2019
  • System(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia

Darksiders Genesis is a ridiculously fun, banter-filled Diablo clone that highlights all of the best aspects of dungeon crawling while minimizing the dull downtime characteristic of the genre. This prequel-slash-spin-off introduces Strife, a debonair gunslinger and the fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, who works with his brother War to restore the balance between heaven and hell. 

The game combines dungeon crawling with hack-and-slash gameplay that’s just wild and violent enough to be fun without being excessive. It also encourages the use of unlockable power moves and combos that you can use to destroy big bosses within the world’s beautifully-designed and detailed dungeons. Each level feels unique, rewarding exploration and clever puzzle-solving. Check out our review of Darksiders Genesis for more in-depth information!

3. Persona 5

Persona 5
  • Developer: P-Studio
  • Release Date: September 15, 2016
  • System(s): PS3, PS4

Persona 5 is admittedly a bit of a stretch for this list, but I’d argue that the game’s highly-stylized JRPG structure and aesthetic highlights its distinctive approach to dungeon crawling. The game follows Joker, the leader of a group known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, who use their special powers to infiltrate the hearts of their adversaries and make them repent for their evil actions.

The game’s dungeon crawling elements take place in the Metaverse, the mental plane where their targets’ intents and desires manifest as dungeons and enemies. The Phantom Thieves use their Personas to progress through these dungeons, fighting enemies in true JRPG style with beautiful, fluid animation and a foot-tapping soundtrack.

4. Crypt of the NecroDancer

Crypt of the NecroDancer
  • Developer: Brace Yourself Games
  • Release Date: April 23, 2015
  • System(s): PC, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Mobile

Crypt of the NecroDancer is a delightful rhythm-based game that delves deep into musical dungeons for its adventure and combat. Players take on the role of Cadence, who had her heart stolen in a quest to find her father. Now forced to move in rhythm with the beating of her heart, Cadence must fight through the dungeon and defeat the evil NecroDancer.

The game ambitiously combines rhythm, roguelike, and dungeon-crawling elements throughout gameplay. Moreover, it rewards players for staying on beat with gold and equipment that’s lost if Cadence dies during the run. Longer runs are rewarded with gems that can be used to purchase permanent upgrades for the character.

Crypt of the NecroDancer also has a Zelda-themed sequel called Cadence of Hyrule. Check out our review here!

5. Enter the Gungeon

Enter the Gungeon
  • Developer: Dodge Roll
  • Release Date: April 5, 2016
  • System(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Enter the Gungeon gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “kill time.” Players begin the game by choosing from a group of gunslingers willing to brave the perils of the Gungeon for a chance to win its ultimate treasure – a gun that can kill the past.

This game is a roguelike dungeon crawler that uses shoot-em-up style combat, forcing players to survive intense waves of enemies to proceed through the dungeon. Enemies drop loot that can help the player during their run, adding to the challenge and fast-paced fun.

6. Divinity: Original Sin II

Divinity- Original Sin II
  • Developer: Larian Studios
  • Release Date: September 14, 2017
  • System(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

A large appeal to Divinity: Original Sin II is its similarity to tabletop RPGs. Having D&D-style mechanics translated into a visual, playable medium takes the high fantasy setting to a whole new level and really makes the characters come alive. The game builds on its predecessor by exploring the power of Source and the history of its weavers, adding pre-written character backgrounds for a group of Sourcerers trying to escape oppression.

True to its tabletop inspiration, Divinity spends a lot of its time exploring complex dungeons full of traps, treasures, and enemies. The turn-based combat gives players time to plan and coordinate their moves, and smart gameplay is often rewarded with valuable and exciting loot.

7. Crawl

Crawl
  • Developer: Powerhoof
  • Release Date: April 11, 2017
  • System(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Crawl is a ridiculously fun multiplayer experience that combines competition and co-op in a brawler-style dungeon crawl. The game opens with a fight to the death between players, with the last man standing emerging victorious. This player becomes the human hero, while the other players act as spirits that can generate monsters and possess various environmental hazards throughout the dungeon. Every time the hero player is killed, the player who dealt the final blow becomes the new human and proceeds through the dungeon.

The game’s progress is fueled by players advancing through the dungeon, leveling up with gold and experience to bolster their character (or monster of choice). The players’ ultimate goal is to have control over the hero when the boss room is finally reached. Fight against the boss as the other players control it in an epic final battle. Emerge victorious, and you win!

8. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

The Binding of Isaac- Rebirth
  • Developer: Nicalis
  • Release Date: November 4, 2014
  • System(s): PC, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Wii U, 3DS, Switch

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a remake of the original title of the same name, adding additional endings and characters to the core story. Players control Isaac and any of fourteen other unlockable characters in their efforts to escape Isaac’s deranged mother and her belief that his sacrifice will bring his salvation.

The game’s dungeon-crawling elements take place primarily in Isaac’s basement, where he must fight monsters in order to escape from his mother. The dungeons in each level are procedurally-generated, and contain many terrifying monsters that threaten Isaac as he runs.

9. Gauntlet (2014)

Gauntlet (2014)
  • Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios
  • Release Date: September 23, 2014
  • System(s): PC, PS4

The original Gauntlet was a 1985 arcade game credited as one of the founders of the dungeon crawler genre. The franchise has seen new installments and multiple remakes over the years, all of them building on the original arcade structure and mechanics that made the game so fun to begin with.

As is the case with classic dungeon crawlers, the story of Gauntlet is relatively scant. Players can control one of four playable characters, allowing for a four-player party, including all of the races. The players must progress through a series of dungeons, fighting monsters and looting treasure in their efforts to reach the final boss.

10. Creature in the Well

Creature in the Well
  • Developer: Flight School Studio
  • Release Date: September 6, 2019
  • System(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Creature in the Well is a pinball-themed dungeon crawler that combines hack-and-slash combat with clever level design to further its unique approach to the genre. Players act as the last BOT-C unit, exploring the remains of an ancient facility in an attempt to save his city from ruin.

The handcrafted levels and stylized graphics create significant visual appeal, but the timed gameplay and clever puzzles are what really bring this game home. Exploration plays a significant role in the player’s progression through the facility, but a sense of being pursued drives the game forward and ensures that there’s always enough tension to keep going.

What is a Dungeon Crawler?

Dungeon crawlers are games that feature (what else?) dungeon crawling as their primary mechanic. Players delve into large, often complex dungeons during their adventures, avoiding traps, fighting enemies, and solving puzzles as they loot the treasures hidden in the depths.

Gauntlet
Original Gauntlet (1985)

It’s worth noting that most titles that fall under this umbrella aren’t pure dungeon crawlers. Since the genre is identified more on structure and level design than it is on storytelling or gameplay, dungeon crawlers are often combined with RPGs, roguelikes, hack-and-slashers, and other genres that drive the game forward.

Further Reading

Thanks for checking out our list of the top dungeon crawlers! If you’re interested in more of our genre roundups, check out the articles below!

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