Grim Dawn was originally “kickstarted” before Kickstarter became the boomtown it is now way back in 2012. Now, years later, the Action RPG from Crate Entertainment is finally leaving early access and launching in the wild for all to play and enjoy. Frankly, if you’re a fan of ARPGs, you will not want to miss this one.
Set in the apocalyptic near future, Grim Dawn takes place in the world of Cairn – a once proud empire has fallen and the human race is near extinction. The humans have set up a refuge in a prison, and are besieged on both sides by two immense powers: the Aetherials and the Chthonians. The Aetherials want to use human bodies as a resource, while the Chthonians want to wipe out humanity before that happens. So, you know… it’s a sunny day in Cairn.
In terms of combat mechanics, Grim Dawn is what you’d expect from any point and click Action RPG – if you’ve played Diablo, Titan’s Quest, Path of Exile, you’ll feel right at home here. What sets Grim Dawn apart from the pack and puts it on the same level of excellence as games like Path of Exile is its insanely in-depth class progression trees and devotion system.
The class trees, known as Masteries are very similar to what’s found in Torchlight 2 or Titan Quest. You’ll invest points in the tree’s progress itself, unlocking newer and deeper skills while gaining stats that are crucial to that class. You’ll also be able to specialize in two masteries (or just one if you choose) making for an immense amount of unique class builds. There are sick main classes, and you can combine them in any fashion to make up to 36 unique classes.
Meanwhile the Devotion mechanic is similar to the huge open skill tree of Path of Exile. As you play through Grim Dawn’s four main acts, you’ll explore and find ruined and corrupted shrines. Restoring them, which will trigger events in the game world where you’ll have to defeat waves of difficult monsters, gives you devotion points from one of 5 types of constellations. The more points you put into the affinities and constellations, the more powerful bonuses and skills you’ll receive. You can also reset these by spending money and resources at the appropriate NPC.
Oh, and there are of course item-based skills which can give you even more abilities – some based on proc and others as on-use skills that you can put on your hotbar. There are also the usual socketable items that you can use to tweak and tinker your items to your heart’s content. Sets? Yep, it’s got ‘em. Factions to gain and get rewards from? That too.
You can play Grim Dawn completely offline or online in groups of friends, there are veteran, elite, hardcore, and even custom game modes where players can create and make their own campaigns and levels. And yes, like the good ol’ days of Diablo 2 you can make a game set for PVP, and if you’re not in the same party, you can kill each other. No looting though, but I’m sure someone will mod a game mode for that in due time.
There’s even a Survival game mode coming post release where players will fight against waves of increasingly difficult monsters. These options, when combined with the altaholism that’s bound to be rampant with the masteries and devotion systems means there’s a whole lot of reply value in Grim Dawn.
MMORPG.com’s own review is forthcoming from Suzie Ford, but for now if you’re on the fence… consider this my own glowing recommendation. Grim Dawn’s a gritty, dirty, but somehow otherworldly beautiful ARPG that deserves to be played by any fans of the genre. It’s out now on Steam for a mere $25, but there are Patron and Loyalist editions that get you a load more content for $40 and $75 respectively.
Go out, slay the monsters, and collect the loot. You won’t be sorry.