Dark and Darker takes you in to terrify the soul out of you and makes you stick around long enough to probably escape with the loot or die trying.
We want the challenge in a game. And even though Dark and Darker does get predictably grinding, that’s up until you get a player coming in around the corner and you’re starting off again.
Between traps, more traps, zombies, monsters, skeletons, even more traps, Dark and Darker does it better with its Battle Royale format. It’s when the last few players are left and the portals are just about to come out, that’s when Dark and Darker makes you helter-skelter and come back for more.
In this blog, I’ve compiled a list of the best games like Dark and Darker in 2023 and this is probably a list I’ll stick to unless some other indie game comes out of the blue and does it better.
But there’s nothing like that on my radar so this is all you get. And I have a few surprise inclusions that are worth it.
15 Best Games Like Dark and Darker in 2023
|May 17, 2022
|August 3, 2023
|April 29, 2015
|January 23, 2016
|PC, Xbox One
|June 5, 2023
|PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
|Early Access: December 18, 2015
|Path of Exile
|October 23, 2013
|PC, PS4, Xbox One, Steam
|June 26, 2006
|PC, PS4, Switch, iOS, Xbox One
|April 29, 2019
|PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S
|February 18, 2020
|PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S
|Escape from Tarkov
|July 27, 2017
|The Cycle: Frontier
|June 8, 2022
|March 26, 2019
|PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S, Stadia
|Remnant: From the Ashes
|August 16, 2019
|PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch
|Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem
|February 13, 2020
|PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S
15. Wolcen Lords of Mayhem
A late addition to the list, Wolcen is an attempt worth making better. Few Dark and Darker like games have a better skill tree in them or even concentrate as much effort on one.
Wolcen takes the puritan route. You can’t smash the buttons to get special attacks going. There’s no key buffer, demanding players to use their keys tactically and well-aligned with their combat plan.
The only thing that’s keeping Wolcen at the bottom of the list is – if the monsters don’t get to you the bugs will and that’s something WOLCEN studio should get to, soon. If not for that, Wolcen can be as immersive as Dark and Darker in solo gameplay in its own way of course.
14. Remnant: From the Ashes
Not in dungeons but in just as gloomy soaking-wet outdoors of a post-apocalyptic world, Remnant is a grindingly good gaming experience where no two playthroughs will ever be the same.
It’s tough enough to make you keep going a couple of times, despite the lackluster storyline. The graphics are straight-up great for an indie. Add to this you get less than 50% of the total game content with each average 20-hour playthrough, Remnant is a good few days’ worth of soulslike fun.
But it could do well with more variety. Also, soloing the game is almost too hard to the point of a tiresome pursuit of perfection and almost necessitates co-op. Gunfire Games just needs to add a bit more to Remnant and I can see this game making a name.
What could have been a runner-up for GoTY is now making it to this list of games like Dark and Darker almost rock bottom.
Outward slows things down to the point that you are literally living every second of it and by living I mean surviving. The open world is as open as RDR2, well almost. You need to think a week ahead (in-game time) to survive the week. The learning curve is a SpaceX rocket about to launch for Mars.
But. Don’t judge a book by its cover. And don’t judge a game by the first hour. In that first hour, you get a glimpse of what Outward was meant to be and sadly didn’t. An exquisitely rendered world full of goodies and enemies who are just as strong if not stronger – Outward sets the right tone, tough-but-fair.
But then the game starts failing when you get to the point that you’re getting beat more by the bugs than by enemies, AI or player. And even losing the battle takes a few hours to set in sometimes. Then there are even more glitches down the road. That’s all that Nine Dots needs to do, get some dev hours behind the game that can potentially outdo RDR2.
12. The Cycle: Frontier
For a while, TCF makes you feel like you’re on top of the best PvPvE around and there’s nothing better, not even Tarkov. It has the guns, enough combat fun, and an easy-to-go futuristic environment that makes the game hit the sci-fi trendline.
All that TCF ever needed were little tweaks to the PvE and the combat movement. It’s all about the gunplay in this genre unless you’re in the dungeons and there’s no gunplay. Sadly, they didn’t and this game is shutting down on September 27.
You can still get it on Steam and enjoy a couple of playthroughs. And for an F2P extraction shooter, it almost did well enough.
11. Escape from Tarkov
Should be way higher up the list but I just put it here to talk about it earlier. Because EFT deserves a spot in the top 3 on any best games list. But it should not anymore.
Despite the excellent realism in combat movement and gunplay, the hardcore depth in weaponry, and lastly the best gaming physics engine in all FPS games where you have to think every move before making and at one point achieve instinctive abilities to all that, it’s not worth it anymore.
Not for the must-buy-from-company-website-my-friend approach, but that you won’t get by a single game without game-hacking geniuses who kick the fun out of EFT. Unless that’s sorted, there’s no way EFT should be played anymore. If only that weren’t the case.
10. Hunt: Showdown
Hunt is where you get when you’re monstrously serious about an ARPG that looks good and plays better. The level of detail makes this a winner and it’s not just the excellent soundscape.
When a true-blue FPS slows things down and bares it to the bones with no shields, the damage is real and brutal. This is a game where a careful bowman can bring down a trotting sniper. It’s where the monsters are not to kill you in the first place but just to make you vulnerable to other Hunters.
But to get a hunter kill is a big thing. Although Hunt’s been steadily building a strong gaming base, we only hope there’ll be finally enough hunters in the game to make it PvPvE and not just PvE which as I said, is not the focus of the game. Until then, wait up.
Mordhau is fun in its very medieval way and it’s probably the best fun you will have in hacking and slashing or shooting arrows anywhere in the gaming world, unless you prefer Ghosts of Tsushima or the AC gameplay.
This is a heady PvPvE experience where you are slashing your way through enemies to cause immediate and visible damage. But if you’re not a fan of severed bodies sprouting blood, Mordhau has little more to offer.
The combat is exhilarating and winning a small-scale medieval war does come with adrenaline and dopamine, that’s about everything there is to Mordhau. So, unless this is your cup of tea and you want PvPvE, Mordhau is limited in its scope and that’s going nowhere.
8. Titan Quest
If you’ve played Diablo II, chances are you might’ve put in a few hours in Titan Quest too. Playing your way through Greek, Egyptian, and Chinese history, you will feel the game’s a bit outdated for 2023 but you’re not here to play Starfield.
Titan Quest has a PvP mode and honestly, you’ll start thinking beyond the PvE after the first playthrough or two. What this game excels in is its minimalism, keeping the gameplay intact. You start with nothing but a choice of tunics and make your way through the ranks with different masteries and weapons.
The best news probably is that Titan Quest II is in development. Worth the wait.
7. Path of Exile
Smack in the middle of this list is perhaps the one game that’s still as worth playing as Skyrim. With Path Of Exile II closed beta in 2024, this is the perfect time to go back to PoE and enjoy perhaps the largest skill tree and character customization table out there.
It’s more MMORPG than PvPvE like Dark and Darker although it shares a lot of common gameplay features. But when you bring in a party of up to 6 friends to a randomly generated PoE map zone, that’s where PoE gets its brownie points – replayability.
PoE is an example of a game staying true to its fans and delivering what they want in consistent tweaks and leagues. PoE should be higher up this list but we’re in 2023 so all eyes ahead for PoE II.
Barony is one of the best games like Dark and Darker given that you love Minecraft. If you’d rather enjoy a game for what it brings to the table in gameplay mechanics and the system instead of how it looks, chances are you’ve already played Barony so you know exactly what I mean.
In case you haven’t, you need to be prepared to die a hundred deaths before making it past the initial levels as that’s when the Barony really takes off. The learning curve’s steep, too steep for some. And late-game is just the same no matter what build you have since if you’ve made it to late-game you already have a good build.
Barony is loved by cult roguelike fans and is a great game to get started on in case you want to get over Dark and Darker.
5. Diablo IV
For those who love Diablos, Diablo IV is the best in the series. For those who liked what it brought to the table, Diablo IV is a reboot and Diablo V should do better since IV is just like what it was before but a bit better here and there, nothing spectacular.
If Diablo 3 was not dark enough, Diablo IV is darkness gamified into an endless journey through misery. There’s nothing new to the storyline and despite the side quests, you still end up playing through the game only because it is Diablo.
So, even though this technically should be the best game like Dark and Darker, it’s not. Even though it’s perfectly haunting, abominably chilling, and hellishly deep, it falls short of expectations. Diablo IV is a great game but IMO no Diablo game will ever live up to what we want and perhaps that’s the very point of Diablo.
4. Grim Dawn
Grim Dawn is almost perfect. It’s paced to not make skill-farming seem like mindless grinding. It’s deep enough for spontaneity across playthroughs and overall replayability. Its dual-class mechanics make each upgrade count in the long run without getting lost in all the skills, masteries, weapons, and items late-game. GD is a full package.
What GD does better than Diablo IV is making each death worth more. While GD does have a similar learning and leveling curve, it’s slower and more intentional. Every upgrade has an impact that lasts. Every armor or weapon makes the game harder but not without giving you a fair chance.
GD simply delivers a better risk-reward ratio making it ulteriorly more enjoyable. But it’s best for solo and there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to PvP. That’s all that Crate needs to do if they want GD to get better at what it’s already good at.
Exanima is a drunken brawl that you can’t stop trying to master. The unique simplicity of this game makes it unputdownable, addicting, and worth hundreds of hours. If you’re hooked, plan out your days ahead and the nights now.
The secret sauce to Exanima is the physics behind its combat movement. That’s the meta and meat of the game. You can wield the perfect strike, but you cannot get it right every time. And you are not OP either. At any stage of the game, 3 hits and you’re dead and that’s after you get some armor to put on.
Every fight and monster can take you out. A huge range of items for many unique playthroughs. But there’s just one thing not in Exanima despite it being one of the best games like Dark and Darker. Exanima can get all Battle Royale with exclusive PvPvE but that can be an expensive proposition.
2. Baldur’s Gate 3
This is one of the biggest game releases in this calendar year and Baldur’s Gate 3 is right up there for GoTY. And despite the CRPG quips, its limitations while sticking to D&D lore, and the unavoidable grind, BG3 is a hit.
It is the perfect ode to games like Dark and Darker, built in the same environment and world where imagination runs from dark to light and back again. Gameplay is complex but explainable and diverse in its approach. You can replay the game, even each little battle, just to strive for perfection which is exactly what BG3 wants you to do.
But dice rolls are more frustrating than boss battles. Why not let players go ahead with the situational choices as they would? Why let dice rolls pop up and destroy the tensive flow that the game so happily delivers in full? Remove that and Baldur’s Gate 3 is the best Dark and Darker game around and it’s better at it.
1. V Rising
What makes the best game of a genre is how it blends everything in seamlessly to balance for mastery in any one aspect. V Rising does everything that’s expected of it, but it does each of them better.
From building your castle to upgrading weapons inside it, crucial to win boss fights, this game will require dedication and grey matter to avoid an unending circle of grind. You get to enjoy a wonderfully detailed world in 3rd person and a lively combat system that will make you think before you hit a button.
But what makes this game top this list of best games for Dark and Darker is that Stunlock Studios may have found a way to make it worth playing in PvPvE mode.
You can set PvP servers across highly detailed settings (that will demand serious in-game knowledge to pull off) for a homogeneous gaming experience that’s properly synced to your gear score, and how high your gear stats are. You will struggle in higher-level areas even if you’re partying with leveled-up friends unless you’re leveled up to at least meet the mark. Tough. But fair.
Stunlock Studios seems to have cracked it with V Rising. All this is in the latest update. This is why V Rising is at the top of this list. It does differently but it has done it better than BG3.
These are the best games like Dark and Darker in 2023. But all this is from my perspective of survival RPGs PvPvE set in dark medieval or supernatural worlds. Outward is the odd one out and V Rising might be a surprise number 1. But every game in this list is worth playing if you want to move on from Dark and Darker. I’d suggest playing BG3 first and then moving on to V Rising for a more linear RTS experience!