Enter an apocalyptic fantasy world where humanity is on the brink of extinction, iron is valued above gold and trust is hard earned. This ARPG features complex character development, hundreds of unique items, crafting and quests with choice & consequence.
User reviews:
Very Positive (713 reviews) - 88% of the 713 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Very Positive (10,194 reviews) - 93% of the 10,194 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Feb 25, 2016

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Recent updates View all (36)

August 24

V1.0.0.5 Hotfixes 1 and 2 are Live

The Crucible DLC has been out for a few weeks and we've been hearing your feedback! In addition to a number of bug fixes, we have released two hotfixes for V1.0.0.5 that have made great improvements to the new DLC, based on your input.

Key changes include:

  • Checkpoints saved across all Crucibles
  • Purchaseable Tokens to unlock Crucible difficulties on other characters
  • More Experience
  • Better Rewards

Visit the forum for the full list of changes.


33 comments Read more

August 3

Grim Dawn's First DLC, The Crucible, is Now Available!

We are proud to announce that Grim Dawn's first DLC, The Crucible, is now available on Steam!

The Crucible introduces a brand new way to experience Grim Dawn's cruel menagerie of enemies while gathering sweet sweet loot through its 150 waves.

To coincide with this release, patch has also gone live. The latest update to Grim Dawn features a number of balance changes that should open up even more options for you to build your characters. For the full list of changes, visit the forum.

Good luck in the Crucible. May Lokarr have mercy on your souls.

83 comments Read more


“The "spiritual successor" to Diablo 2 that fans have been pining about for years.”

“Blow for blow, this is one of the best ARPGs in years.”
8.7 – IGN

“Grim Dawn’s the action RPG I’ve enjoyed most in quite some time, and I’m very keen to try the later chapters as they’re released. More so than Torchlight 2, which was a bit too much of a sugar rush experience for me, and certainly more so than Diablo III”
N/A – Rock Paper Shotgun

About This Game

Enter an apocalyptic fantasy world where humanity is on the brink of extinction, iron is valued above gold and trust is hard earned. This ARPG features complex character development, hundreds of unique items, crafting and quests with choice & consequence.

Key Features

  • Dual Class - Combine any of six distinct classes with over 25 skills and modifiers per class. Base classes include Soldier, Demolitionist, Occultist, Nightblade, Arcanist and Shaman.
  • Hundreds of Item Skills - Augment your class build with a diverse array of over 250 unique skills granted by items and equipment add-ons.
  • Collect hundreds of Items - Common, magical, rare, epic and legendary classes of loot. Plus over 20,000 possible magical affix combinations and over 200 rare affixes.
  • Quests with Choice and Consequence - You will face tough decisions that leave significant impacts upon the world. Strangers on the road, desperate families and even entire villages may live or perish based on your actions. Currently over 35 quests with 75+ lore notes to be collected.
  • Friendly and Enemy Factions - Earn favor with human factions to unlock additional quest lines, vendor discounts and special faction-based items and augments. Some neutral factions you can be turned into allies but aiding one will make the enemy of another. Hostile factions will remember your deeds and deepen their hatred of you, sending out large packs and elite heroes to hunt you down.
  • Devotion, an additional layer of skill customization allows you to acquire bonuses and powerful secondary effects for your class skills. These are unlocked from a giant constellation map with points acquired by finding and restoring destroyed or corrupted shrines hidden throughout the world.
  • Rebuild the World - Help human enclaves survive and flourish by securing vital necessities, rebuilding structures and rescuing survivors who can then lend their services to your cause.
  • 4 Person Multiplayer - Connect with Friends or make new allies in glorious multiplayer. Multiplayer encounters will put your teamwork to the ultimate challenge.
  • Fast-paced Visceral Combat - Enemy blood spatters, ragdoll physics and satisfying enemy death effects. Smash in doors and fight house to house, leaving a path of demolished furniture in your wake.
  • Rotatable Camera - If you choose to survey the full beauty of the world and always fight from the most optimal angle. Levels are still designed so that players are not forced to rotate the camera; it is purely optional.
  • Secrets and Perils Abound - 200+ Enemy heroes and bosses, hand-configured with their own unique arrays of deadly skills. 20+ secret areas hidden behind crumbling walls, hidden gaps and mysterious locked doors. Explode obstacles or repair structures to open new paths.
  • Rogue-Like Dungeons - Descend into special locked challenge dungeons that require a rare crafted key, where enemy levels increase as you progress and player teleport is disabled. There is no way out except to complete the dungeon or die trying.
  • Dynamic Weather - The world is brought to life with region-specific climates and a variety of weather effects. A sunny day can cloud over with mild rain showers that builds into a booming thunderstorm. Variable wind gusts blow grass and affect objects like windmills.
  • Recipe Based Crafting - Collect over 250 crafting recipes that allow you to combine salvaged components into unique crafted items and then, later, use those basic crafted items with higher-tiered recipes to complete items of amazing power.
  • Reclaim Skill Points - The ability to pay to reclaim points alleviates the fear and frustration of having to make early, uninformed skill choices that could permanently gimp a character.

Crate Entertainment is a small indie studio founded by the lead gameplay designer of Titan Quest and includes veterans from such companies as Blizzard North, Irrational and Harmonix. Join the Grim Dawn community and provide feedback on the ongoing development of the game. Help shape the future of development and be among the first to receive news about Grim Dawn by participating in polls and discussions on our forum. http://www.grimdawn.com

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7 / Windows 8 / Windows 10
    • Processor: x86 compatible 2.3GHz or faster processor (Intel 2nd generation core i-series or equivalent)
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 6800 series or ATI Radeon X800 series or better
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 5 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible 16-bit sound card
    • Additional Notes: 4GB of memory is required to host multiplayer games
    • OS: Windows 7 / Windows 10
    • Processor: x86 compatible 3.2GHz or faster processor (Intel 4th generation core i-series or better)
    • Memory: 6 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 1.5GB NVIDIA GeForce 500 series or ATI Radeon 6000 series or better
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 5 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: 4GB of memory is recommended to host multiplayer games
Customer reviews
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Very Positive (713 reviews)
Very Positive (10,194 reviews)
Recently Posted
21.2 hrs
Posted: August 29
This game is a great time sink that, at time of playing I have put nearly a day into and feel like I've gotten somewhere more or less. The only problem I can bring up is that a boss wearing armour and using weapons that are leagues behind mine, and dropping very little XP despite the fact that he's two levels ahead of me feels like either a poor quality loot generation system, or just a contrived load. Other than that I find the health system to be quite a nice one, giving credence to both regenerating health, and pickup based health regen. Multi-classing is relatively intuitive, though it'd be nice to see some variety in terms of the hardest weapon type. For me it tends to look like a clear progression, where I level up, and happen to be able to suddenly use a weapon make that has a higher attack value, but I can never find another that does comparable damage.
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87.7 hrs
Posted: August 29
Now we're talking...if you're a stupid faggpt wheo lvoes to see numbers icnerement then thisi st he game for you. And i am one of those
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29.6 hrs
Posted: August 29
Awesome game. Screw the tiny amount of haters
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300.7 hrs
Posted: August 29
Boring terrible game. It brings nothing new to the genre, and it doesn't even have any cute outfits. These clouds are anything but sick. 1/10

*updated review to copy and paste an essay that i typed out in the comment section to respond to the game devs response because it couldn't fit there.*

The bulk of the 300 hours, that i'm guessing you're insinuating that i've gotten my money's worth, were spent alt+tabbed watching videos of better games or trying to come up with reasons i should continue playing through the repetitive content (i.e. reused zone layouts throughout every difficulty, bland skill design etc etc).
In actuality the majority of my time playing the game was pre-release, coming back and checking out the game to see if it was worth playing. Once the game actually came out I gave it some more time and honestly? still feels pretty incomplete. Being a game dev for an ARPG i'm sure you're probably aware that generally ARPGs are known for being large time sinks and 300 hours isn't really that high. Instead of taking the time to rapidly respond to negative reviews maybe you could spend some of that time coming up with a better DLC than some terrible arena arcade mode that should have come with the base game. I get that not every game is going to live up to my expectations and that's cool, much like every person isn't going to like your game and i'd say trying to make a snarky comment to discount someones review isn't exactly the best way to go about things.
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1,007.0 hrs
Posted: August 28
Great game. Everything has been said already, but they did a great job and deserve another positive review. The few negative reviews are generally honest and list things that maybe if you expect, won't be there, but I went through a drought of finding games I could get into, and Grim Dawn got me for a couple of months or so. Enjoyed it immensely.
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4.0 hrs
Posted: August 28
Imagine Diablo 3.
You got it? Good, now remove all the bad ♥♥♥♥ from that game and add some cool ♥♥♥♥.

That's Grim Dawn.
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69.6 hrs
Posted: August 28
This game is a definite 8 out of 10 only because of a few minor things that may or may not bug you. As a hack'n'slash type RPG, it offers everything you might expect from the genre. There are tons of loot to be found, secret areas to be explored, powerful heroes & bosses to be fought, etc. The classes are varied and each are unique in their own way, depending on your playstyle and skill choices, of course. In addition to the skill tree, there is a system called "devotion" with its own and fairly complex tree to further specialize your character.

If you have played Titan Quest before, then Grim Dawn will feel like a sequel in terms of gameplay mechanics. Like in Titan Quest's Epic and Legendary game modes, Grim Dawn allows you to play the game again while maintaining your equipment, level and skills. This mode is split into two parts, elite and ultimate, respectively. The game gets a lot harder each time, but the loot gets better too. The game's top-tier legendary items are only available from elite onwards.

So why 8? Because I didn't find the maps particulary interesting. While they certainly convey feelings of dread, war and destruction, I kinda expected more variations. There are caves, grasslands, dungeons, caves, grasslands, and more dungeons. That is not to say there is no unique landscapes, but the variety is fairly limited. Although there are nice little secret areas, it's a bit tiresome to grind through the game with little change in environment. Other than that, Grim Dawn is spectacular game with great graphics.
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32.0 hrs
Posted: August 28
This game is so fun much, a great price and brings back the memories of D2. Maps are huge, graphics are amazing and loot is plentiful. One of the best ARPGS on the market. 10 out of 10 for me!
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Gudang Garam
12.7 hrs
Posted: August 28
Are you a fan of the ol' days on Diablo 1 and 2? Then read this:


Okay, well I'm not going to say it's a bad game, but it's far from good. I'm a HUGE ARPG fan, and of course like most of you, started in the Diablo days. After getting bored of the grind in Diablo 3, I went to PoE and that was great for 1 month, but then that started to wear down and thus lead me to Grim Dawn.

Here's what I like and dislike about Grim Dawn:


+Great artwork & design

+Runs very well even on low-spec PC's


-No community (Yeah I know you can find players to play with, but no global chats, no trade chats, nothing)

-Skill system and stat system is not exciting (I normally get excited leveling up to use new skills. Grim Dawn just doesn't seem to do that for me. Skill tree feels quite bland)

-AI isn't on point (The mobs don't offer much of a challenge. Bosses seem a little too easy)

-PVP Disappointing (As a huge fan of the crazy havoc Diablo 2 offered in terms of PVP and the toxic community that came with it, I am disappointed to see no effort made for PVP on Grim Dawn as well as the other top ARPG's)

-Pathing and movement (I found the pathing of the characters was not as smooth as the other ARPG games. Especially when going up and down narrow sets of stairs)

-Story line is flat (I found myself mostly skipping all dialogue interaction with NPC's just to hurry up and progress forward. What happened to those amazing cinematic days like in Diablo 2 and the amazing voice overs?)

-Just feels like a single player game (I want to be emersed in an online world, especially when it's the type of game which requires grinding for gear pieces and so fourth. Playing with 1-3 other players is just not much of a multiplayer game).


So I guess with more negative's than positives, I'd have to say I don't recommend this game for those who have the same types of expectations and needs in a type of game like this. They need to put in a lot more work before I can actually even casually play this.
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7.9 hrs
Posted: August 28
Bland characters, with a trite and predictable story. Feels like more boring, Early Access version of Diablo III.

Your character is ugly, and there's no cool armor to hide it. There aren't nearly enough active skills to make gameplay interesting. And although you can be a sorcerer, the game will insist to use a melee weapon or gun.

It has massively positive reviews because its only real competitor in the isometric ARPG genre is Diablo 3, and it's apparently cool to hate Diablo 3.

It's competent, yet does nothing new. It's nothing special, but at least it's cheap.
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Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
40 of 44 people (91%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
558.1 hrs on record
Posted: August 2
Grim Dawn is one of the best ARPG. You can make a variety of builds like pet army, magic caster, dual blade/gunslinger, or even a tanky afk build. 15 class combinations from 6 bases with over 25 skills per class, excluding lots of skills from devotion system and items.
While finding the right build is hard to decide early, there's a ton of guides or shared characters for testing purpose from Grim Dawn forums (always backup your save files first). Sometimes you'll find a fun build that's yet to discover.
If you like Diablo, PoE, or Torchlight, this game will suits you.
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31 of 33 people (94%) found this review helpful
186.5 hrs on record
Posted: August 12
Grim Dawn

Im just having a blast with this game, I wish I had bought this game sooner none the less Its still worth every penny in my book. Seeing some friends playing it made me want to also delv in and enjoy the game, and that I most certainly am.

The maps are huge, there are tons and tons of quests to aquire and complete as you play through, the lands are massive and beautifully detailed compared to what I have played in the past. There is stacks of items to pick up, crafting, and alsorts of stuff to do in this game, so much so Im so lost with it all. I mostly just equipt the best weapons and items checking the stats then sell the rest, so I can stock up on health and energy vials. You can also store your items in storage places in the towns as well

You get to make rifts (portals), but only 1 at a time, so I use this when out exploring hacking & slashing away while having fun, so if I die I can warp back to where I was or nearing a mission and OR a Boss fight. When you die you will loose your experiance points, so make sure you go back to your grave marked with a skull to reclaim them. At times I could not do this as I lost my place and or was a dare devil and ran through the green stuff, dont run through long paths of green stuff ok, try find a way round.

There are also pets you can earn to help you, I have 2 plus a pet that spawns on his own, dont ask me how I got them, I have no idea, but I have them now. Maybe thats why Im slower at leveling up in the game, because Im sharing my points I earn around to my pets, as they not strong yet. But they do help me out, I love my pets :)

Anyway there is just to much to explain with this game, and I cant possiblly explain it all, nor word it all appropriately. I just wanted to share that I am having a blast with this game, its addictive but only if its your kinda game. I will continue to play this game and hope I can finish it as well. Who needs more games ?, I now have Grim Dawn :)

Price wise to me its worth the full price, BUT if your patient wait for another sale, this game does not disapoint.;)

Just for the record, game plays great with the Xbox controller, but was a pain to work out how to get it all set up. I managed and I now play this with my Xbox controller :)

This is the set up guide for the Xbox controller, a friend was happy for me to share on my review for anyone looking for help in setting the Xbox controller up. Thank you @powbam for the guide and letting me share it as well

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12 of 12 people (100%) found this review helpful
746.7 hrs on record
Posted: August 17
Grim Dawn is the spiritual successor to Titan Quest, an ARPG set in Greek Mythology, only this time it is an original setting with an original story. The game begins as you awaken from a hanging. Your crime: being corrupted by Aetherial energy. Coming under the influence of this energy gives the gift of superhuman abilities (aka the skill tree), but can also turn you into a shambling undead. You are sent to investigate this Aetherial energy in a nearby cave to win the influence of the town that tried to hang you, and the story carries on from there.

There are 6 different classes in the game: Soldier, focusing on physical, bleed, and internal trauma damages with a focus on defensive shield-use; Shaman, a two-handed weapon focused character that deals a combination of lightning, bleed, and retaliation damage with defensive life leech and regeneration abilities, and can also summon a briarthorn beast; Nightblade, a very offensively minded melee dual wield character with a cold, pierce, and poison/acid damage focus, and can also benefit from guns or crossbows; Arcanist, the spell-caster with a bevy of elemental skills but is very strong with fire and aether damage, and uses damage reflection and damage mitigation sphere skills for defense; Occultist, a summoner focused caster strong with chaos, vitality, fire and poison/acid damage that uses a combination of acid retaliation and life leech for defense; and finally Demolitionist, a bomb tossing, trap throwing gun toting pyromaniac using mostly fire and lightning damage and uses a variety of stuns, blinds and fumbling attacks for defense.

You pick your first class on your first level up, with the ability to pick a second class at level 10. It is highly recommended to do so as each class has multiple synergies with another and leveling up two skill trees instead of one provides you with more character stats: PHYSIQUE, CUNNING, and SPIRIT. Physique regulates your hit points and ability to wear heavy armor. Cunning regulates your pierce and bleed damage as well as chance to hit and critical chance. Spirit regulates your mana pool, and elemental damage.

Another important part of your character is the Devotion map. Throughout the game there are shrines that require certain craftable materials in order to restore them. Restoring a shrine gives you a devotion point. On the devotion screen are many constellations, each a cluster of connected devotion points that provide themed skills and abilities. Some of the skills gained from the completion of a constellation can be attached to a skill on your skill tree, making it more powerful. It adds another satisfying layer of complexity to your character, and is absolutely necessary to master in order to tackle the harder difficulties.

Crafting is very deep and involved. At around character level 15 you recieve a quest to recruit a blacksmith. There are two different blacksmiths to pick from, one is stronger for magic based characters, the other for physical damage characters. This blacksmith can make either a random magic weapon armor for you or you can find rare and unique recipes dropped by monsters. The ingredients for these recipies are also dropped by monsters. The ingredients can also be infused into weapons to give them different stats and abilities.

There is also a faction system. Defeating certain types of enemies raises your influence with the 5 or 6 different factions in the game. Different levels of influence allow you to buy different tiers of equipment from faction vendors. It should also be noted that defeating enemies also lowers their standing with you, and you can even become so hated that special super unique enemies can spawn from that group of enemies, and hunt you down.

Combat is very visceral and satisfying. Critical attacks shake the screen and send send your enemies flying. All skills have a unique animation and are very fun to use. There are 4 Acts and 3 difficulties. The max character level is 85.

I've been playing the game since build 15 and every build since then to the release and beyond has drastically improved the game. I highly recommend this awesome ARPG.
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7 of 7 people (100%) found this review helpful
331.3 hrs on record
Posted: August 1
Grim Dawn may be a little harder to get into than most hack n' slashes, but it's crafted with an old-school gaming approach coupled with newer solutions found in the latest games.

Rich, dark atmosphere has a surprising amount of depth and choices that impact gameplay. While the storyline isn't that involving (saving the world from invading monster factions and learning why), seeing how the people in-game are affected definitely is. Under all this there's plenty of cleverly hidden lore and hard-to-find secret areas.

+Good twist on typical skill tress, where you select two classes and find synergy between them, and decide how deeply you invest into a class
+Devotion is a system of common abilities that can back up the weakness of your character. For example, if you lack survivability, you can go for a number of defensive procs. The shrines for these devotion points are found throughout the world, which encourages exploration
+Very cool bosses, tough dungeons, good enemy variety
+An interesting faction system to make the grind matter a little more
+Powerful legendary items that are rarer than in most ARPGs, making them more prestigious
+After 200 hours, there's still so much to do

- Netplay experience may vary
- Often doesn't feel rewarding enough. You'll have a very hard time finding legendaries for your build, may have to trade
- Feels grindy. It takes a lot of time to slog through all the difficulties to get to Ultimate, and farming infamy for the enemy factions can be very tedious

With hundreds of build combinations, an expansive world, and the ability to play with friends, Grim Dawn breathes new life into the old-school hack n' slash games. It may feel too grindy at times, but the combat is crisp and satisfying at all times.
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10 of 13 people (77%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
22.1 hrs on record
Posted: August 7
Grim Dawn is an excellent addition to the Diablo genre. In fact, I definately prefer this to the Diablo and Torchlight series. The whole thing is very polished and creates an overall really great playing experience. The universe that Grim Dawn is set in is really cool and definately has me and my wife hooked.

For those that are not familiar, games in this genre basically boil down to grinding for XP and better loot. It's very fun. You crush a dungeon and then upgrade your stuff. The underlying premise is that simple.

+Great universe with metric tons of lore and personality
+Everything is very high quality - from the music to the artwork to the game balance (which can make-or-break games like these)
+The controller support is awesome
+I love being able to multiclass; it breathes so much more replayability into it
+I love all the graphics settings - I can play it on my gaming rig in all of its splendor, or on my laptop and still get smooth play
+The new DLC is fantastic and even adds more replayability
+The user interface is well done; there is a bit of a learning curve for any game like this, but that curve is definately reduced with the intuitive interface
+Multiplayer is super easy to set up and a lot of fun
+Super cheap for the quality and value

-Some of the voice acting is 'meh', but honestly, just the fact that they have voice acting at all is bonus to me
-Yeah it is grindy; all games in this game are

If you are fan of Diablo-esque games, this is a no-brainer. Totally worth full price.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
46.0 hrs on record
Posted: August 7
Every time I play this game, I left amazed by its sheer vastness. It is just SO big. Most of the areas are huge, winding labrynths filled with stuff to kill. The loot is great, the combat is great, the skills are great. It is everything you want in an ARPG. This ranks up with Path of Exile as the two best ARPGS of recent times. It took everything that was great about Titan Quest and made it better, darker, and larger. The dual classing is just as amazing as TQ, and the game is more fun and robust.

There are a couple things I don't like. The UI is dated. It looks exactly like the UI from Titan Quest, which is something like a decade old. It's time for an update, even if it's just cosmetic. That being said, everything is functional and works. The Auto Sort and Auto Combine features are a huge lifesaver. The other thing I don't like is the game occasionally crashes, for me it is mostly on startup or shut down, but sometimes when Alt+Tabbing as well. Fix those things and this game would be nigh on perfect.
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8 of 12 people (67%) found this review helpful
73.4 hrs on record
Posted: August 8
Wonderful child of Diablo 2 and Titan Quest. And also addictive. Dangerously Addictive. :)
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
39.8 hrs on record
Posted: August 17
I've just found myself in a world where the, "Oh, thank you!", I receive after pulling another poor soul's ♥♥♥ deep from the fire, is always followed by a limp and shuddering handshake. Where "Help me," is always followed by " kill, destroy, avenge, revenge, death, or slaughter". Where my MORAL choices amount to one pile of corpses a fraction of an inch smaller than another.

If every road I tread is paved with corpses, how am I better than the supposed villains who I've slain?

THEY say, "Stop them! They Murder! They Torture! They are Evil!".

And I say, "What would you have me do when I find them?"

And THEY say, "Make them Suffer! Flay them! Burn out their Eyes! Sever their Limbs! Kill them until NONE remain."

And I say, "Pay me".

And THEY say, "Of course."

And I murder and torture and burn and cripple and slay and poison and slaughter until NONE remain. Just as I have been asked.

But as I return, THEY evaporate. The ones that cried loudest to see their enemies blood shrink away when they see it splayed across me. And all I get is a limp, shuddering, and pathetic handshake, and a bag of money hurled at me like a rotting skunk carcass.

And I ask myself, "Is any of this worth it? If not, does it matter?"

And to both counts I answer, "NO."

But enough about my life...

As far as the game goes, Solid aRPG. Great char system, interesting world. Click click click click click...LOOT...SHINIES YAY! What more could you want?
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
123.5 hrs on record
Posted: August 15
Very good game in the "diablo-like" universe of games, Played both this and Path of Exile and this is far more polished (and less confusing when it comes to builds that massive passive tree sheesh) controls better and has much better animations and effects I highly recommend this
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
68.6 hrs on record
Posted: August 7
Grim Dawn is an "action RPG", a genre kept famous by the Diablo franchise which kicked off ARPGs as a popular genre. ARPGs focus heavily on straightforward monsterslaying and lootgathering and as such there's not much that one ARPG can do better than another. That said there are definitely things they can do wrong and as a consequence not be enjoyable to play. The developers offer an appealing list of traits, but do they get it right?

TL,DR CONCLUSION: Grim Dawn is a solid addition to the genre. It is fun, it feels rewarding, it looks gorgeous, and while it may stick to a tried and true formula of ARPGs, it does it right and the devs deliver on their promised game.

Character creation isn't more than picking your name and sex, and whether you want hardcore mode or not. All character development including your choice of classes ("Masteries" as they are called) happens during playing. Of your character choices only your Masteries and your Attribute points are permanently invested, your skills can be changed at a price which is definitely a good thing, especially for the beginning player.

Story (small spoiler alert):
Entering the game we are treated to a cartoonesque cutscene of a possessed human being strung up by a party of apparent vigilantes. You're the victim, and you're possessed by an Aetherial, an otherworldy race of beings that take over host bodies, willingly or unwillingly. The "Grim Dawn" is the event where they made their move and conquered the world, and the remnants of humanity are left to survive in a world of hostile monsters. Before you die on the rope, the Aetherial flees your body, leaving you apparently with the ability to make portals, and the rope is cut at the last moment.
From this point on we are left to roam the world and help what's left of humanity. The game provides us with various lorebooks along the way, that flesh out the story (and give bonus xp) and tell you more about what is going on. The reading is optional for those who just wish to slay monsters.

Buildwise, we have a lot of options for the character, but as with any game with a lot of options it remains to be seen which of these choices are actually viable at the higher difficulties. On Normal or even Veteran mode, there's little you can actually do wrong and there is room for experimentation.
Having two classes at your disposal each class comes with their own selection of skills/spells to use, as well as passives that modify/upgrade these. Additionally the Devotion system, where you allocate points onto a star-map of constellations, allows you to gain additional powerful bonuses and modify these abilities further with powerful bonus effects. As a new player I found the amount of options a little overwhelming, but reading carefully does the trick and even if you make a "wrong" choice it's not immediately punishing even if you don't reset the points.

The game does its best to throw a cornucopia of monsters at you. The monsters themselves are straightforward and have simple abilities depending on their type but with the exception of bosses you're going through most like butter (Note: at Veteran difficulty). Tactically there's not much to do, most of the game is a question of who runs out of hitpoints first. Like the player, monsters have different damage types they can inflict which makes specific preparation difficult if not impossible. As a consequence I found myself just stacking damage and health/regeneration rather than defenses, which has served fine for the first part of the game. The only time I ran into trouble was when I decided to take on a boss 6 levels higher than me.
The most tactical movement you'll be doing is getting out of persistent ground effects, which are fairly painful. The only problem is there is a lot going on around you at once which may make it difficult to see what effects are yours, what are theirs, and what's hurting whom and why. Occasionally I died in a fight, only to cakewalk all over it after respawn. Whether this was because of something I did or something the monsters didn't is hard to tell. This is further hampered by the fact that the game pace is fairly high, the undead don't even shamble, they sprint.
Which brings me to monster AI. This could use some work. The abilities the monsters throw at you appear rather random, even though there are only a few monsters (typically bosses) which have enough abilities to even randomize. As a result some fights can vary hugely in difficulty depending on how the RNG works out. The second bad part of monster AI is targeting. The game has solid objects, but monsters don't seem to realize this. The pathfinding works and melee monsters will approach you but ranged monsters will keep stupidly firing at the wall you're behind as if they're going to fire through some day.

With loads of monsters comes loads of loot. What loot you get is random and to mitigate the randomness there's a LOT of it, which is another staple of ARPGs. There are some vendors about to offer additional loot choices and to dump your truckload of gear on for some coins, which are made of iron rather than rare metals because usable materials have the most value in a postapocalyptic world. Which'd make sense if the game did not rain items on you but the formula of ARPGs requires some suspension of disbelief. In addition you can find or buy schematics that let you craft items with more predetermined stats, but as usual there's always a random component to keep you spending.

The world itself is beautifully crafted, though a bit linear. There are some alternative paths to getting to places and some optional bonus areas, but most of the time you are moving in a predetermined direction. However the game does a decent job of not making you feel that you're just clearing one minimap after another. Moving around is quick, especially with your personal rift-creating ability which does not only let you portal back home, but also to any rift on the map.

The last bit to touch on is the "impact" you have on the world. The devs promise choices that have consequences, and factions present in the world that like or dislike you depending on your actions. In my experience so far these factors are minor, my choices gave me an optional guy to kill but so far don't affect the main story much if at all. The factions are a grind-reward system where playing the game essentially gives you access to better vendors, a design that definitely will appeal to the grinders ARPGs typically attract. Nice details but unlikely to impact gameplay significantly.
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