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What action RPG should I play when I love the horror atmosphere and slow, cautious pace of the first Diablo?

Spectrum

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Nov 21, 2021
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I am a longtime fan of the Diablo series. I especially love Diablo I for the gothic horror atmosphere and the slow pace. In D1 each monster feels like a threat. I always advance cautiously, try to rouse as few monsters as possible at the time, and retreat a lot. And I love that!

D2 also has this to an extent in some of the tougher areas, such as the Chaos Sanctuary. I feel like it's easier to get to the point where you steamroll monsters in D2 than in D1, but in singleplayer the adjustable difficulty (with the "/players X" command) goes a long way to help the player set an appropriate difficulty.

D3 doesn't have this at all in my experience. D3 combat is smooth, fast-paced and steamrolling. I seldom feel like I am in danger. Cranking up the difficulty doesn't really make it feel more dangerous; it just makes monsters slower to kill. It slows the pace, but not in a fun way for me. It doesn't make me feel like I need to advance with caution like in D1.

But this post is not about dissing D3. That was just an introduction. My real point is: I want to try other action RPGs outside the Diablo franchise, and I want recommendations. What games would I likely enjoy, given my taste as I've described above?

I am not that much hung up about itemization and classes. They matter, but the main draw for me is the experience of fighting monsters. Moreover, I am more interested in the campaign and levelling part of games than the endgame. I am looking for a game to sink 20-50 hours into, or at most 100, but not 500 hours. So I don't want a game that "gets good" only when you reach the endgame.

Isometric camera (like in Diablo) is mandatory! I will not consider games with first-person or over-the-shoulder view. Dark Souls looks like it has a great atmosphere, but I am not interested in that kind of gameplay. This also rules out games like World of Warcraft.

I have played the first Torchlight. That was pretty good. I remember that I enjoyed the fact that, like D1, it took place entirely within underground dungeons and caves. That provided a claustrophobic feel which added a lot to the atmosphere.

I am looking at games like Grim Dawn, Inquisitor: Martyr and Wolcen.

Which ones do you think I am most likely to enjoy?

Thanks a lot in advance! :)
 
Sep 24, 2021
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Grim Dawn is great, but you may only want to play through on the standard difficulty; in order to progress in the equivalent of nightmare and hell you really need to grind faction loyalty in order to be able to buy augments to raise your resistance levels to survive. It has a good 30 - 40 hours gameplay in the standard difficulty, and certainly has the grim-dark feel of Diablo. As a bonus, I also feel like it has the best version of a necromancer class outside of D2 (although this is only available with one of the expansions). Definitely worth a punt, especially if you can pick it up on sale.
 
Mar 14, 2020
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I second @inspiredunease - I have picked up Grim Dawn again this week and it is awesome! It's more complex than D2 for me because of the additional classes/class crossovers and bazillion damage types, but I guess it may be the same for people picking up D2 for the first time 🤷‍♂️

Hven't played through Normal mode yet, but I like the atmosphere and how they implemented gothic aspects in the game (mad scientists doing "research" on people and the dead in their laboratory with green stuff? "Hey, do you think that green stuff on the floor is toxic to my character?" - moves over the green stuff to the next door - HP drop drop drop...dead. "Well, I guess that is answered!")

It is a bit more fast-paced than D1 - more like D2 from the fights. Lots of underground maps, and bosses hit HARD - I mean like dead in two hits hard. I am constantly afraid to die, esp. in areas that are marked as "dangerous areas" (yeah, those exist - when you enter them you get a message like "something far more powerful than you lurks here" 😵‍💫

Builds seem difficult though and I followed a rough build guide (not one of the too detailed ones).

What is additionally awesome about the game is the resoures: There's a site on which you can upload your character file to see if you missed a shrine, special chest, quest etc. It is really well done - but only possible, because you have static maps (with randomization of certain additional underground areas and boss and loot location).



Sacred 2 is probably closer to D2 than Grim Dawn, but lacks the Gothic atmosphere IMO. Well done game though.


Torchlight is veeeery cartoony. I spent some dozen hours in TL1, but didn't get hooked.

Tell us what you tried and how your experience was!
 

Glurin

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Well, I suppose Path of Exile is worthy of a mention at least. I've only dabbled a little bit in it, but it is very similar to the Diablo series. I don't know how long it is though, so I don't know if you can finish the campaign in the hours specified.

Torchlight is good, but didn't really hook me. As previously mentioned, it's also pretty cartoony.

Darkest Dungeon has the atmosphere, so I figure it's worth a mention as well, but it is a different type of game. You're not controlling a single character. You're controlling squads of characters you select and send into a dungeon and trying to keep them both alive and sane until they complete their mission. Also it's turn based and has a side scroller camera. But as I said, it's definitely got the atmosphere and is pretty fun IMO, so could be worth a shot. Maybe just grab it when it's on sale or something.

Other than that, I think all I've got is more isometric CRPG than ARPG. Baldur's Gate, Pathfinder, that sort of thing. They're really good, but not quite what you're looking for. Far more story driven than action driven.
 

Spectrum

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Nov 21, 2021
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Thanks for the replies, guys!

Sacred 2 is probably closer to D2 than Grim Dawn, but lacks the Gothic atmosphere IMO. Well done game though.

Sacred II, is that the game that has the Blind Guardian song in it? :D
 

Pacifister

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Back when I was waiting those long years for Diablo 3 to finally come out, I came across Titan Quest. I thought it kind of filled the gap between D2 and D3. One of the things I enjoyed the most was the ability to really create your own class and choosing the skills you wanted out of what might have been 15 skill trees? It's been a bit so I don't remember all the details of it. It was a lengthier campaign and also featured the same difficulty tiers that Diablo had (normal/nightmare/hell).

Another game that might be worth checking out, although it's a bit of a step away from Diablo, is Divinity 2. I was very skeptical about it at first because it's a tactical RPG, but the combat really fit what you were saying about Diablo 1. Each move you make matters, you can't just go storming through an encampment without a little bit of thinking first. It's a nice long campaign that never felt really repetitive, and I'm a player who always has to finish every side quest thrown at me. Can't help it. Anywho, I hope these suggestions help you find something solid to play next!
 

Glurin

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I've been a bit on the fence about Divinity for a while now. It looks like something I'd enjoy, but just haven't made the decision to pull the trigger on it yet. I just picked up Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous though, which will probably keep me busy for a while.
 
Sep 24, 2021
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I've been a bit on the fence about Divinity for a while now. It looks like something I'd enjoy, but just haven't made the decision to pull the trigger on it yet. I just picked up Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous though, which will probably keep me busy for a while.
I'm 52 hours into Pathfinder at the moment, and I believe I'm still on the first chapter. It's great, feels epic right from the start, and certainly has the angels vs demons vibe; it feels more D3 than D2 in its setting in that way.
 
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Glurin

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I'm 52 hours into Pathfinder at the moment, and I believe I'm still on the first chapter.
Yeah, that sounds about right. :p

I really enjoyed Pathfinder: Kingmaker, and it doesn't look like the developers have gone full corporate on us just yet, so I'm looking forward to what Pathfinder: WotR has to offer.