Look, I know it’s the last day of April but that’s a really good name for this series and I couldn’t think of a better one for May.
Welcome to ARPGpril, then! I’ve been playing a load of action RPGs lately, games that are broadly characterized as being action-oriented while retaining RPG features such as character levels, skill, gear, and so on. Many people (including myself) use the term ARPG to describe games in the Diablo mold, featuring randomized loot and enemies as key features. That’s going to be a major feature of this little shindig, but like all my series you can expect a few entries to break from that theme.
I’ve previously reviewed some major names in this genre, including Grim Dawn, Titan Quest, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, and Tom Clancy’s The Division (yes it counts). This series will cover as many other notable ARPGs as I could scrounge up on Steam, which isn’t as many as you might think. I also won’t be touching Path of Exile (though I like it quite a bit, there’s your review) or non-Steam offerings like, well, Diablo. If you’ve got more suggestions they’re always welcome, though the schedule is tight so I might not get to them during the series.
ARPGpril will run for the first two weeks of May, from the 1st to the 14th. New reviews will be posted here daily at 8am PST, and the regular update schedule will be suspended except for Weeklong Roundups on Mondays. That means no indies or mini-reviews, but lots and lots of quality Steam reviews for you to peruse.
If you find yourself enjoying this series and would like to support my work, tell people about it! Introduce them to the site, link them to this series if they like ARPGs, and share any reviews you really like. You can show your support by following my curations and joining the official group on Steam, following me on Facebook and Twitter, or contributing to my Patreon if you have a dollar to spare a month. Every reader and follower makes a difference!
1. Victor Vran
8. Space Hack
10. Sacred 2 Gold
12. Depths of Peril
13. Drox Operative
We’ve reached the level cap for ARPGpril, so let’s sift through the loot and see what’s worth keeping!
If you’re here looking for ARPG recommendations, any of these four should do the trick. Book of Demons is a promising new take on the genre, and Dungeon Siege II is a perennial classic. Sacred 2 has a lot of jank to deal with but I’d say it’s worth it, and Drox Operative does something so different from the rest you really can’t afford to miss it.
THE DECENT ONES
It feels like a lot of ARPG fall into this middling category of playable but not super engaging, and it seems to stem from key design issues. Victor Vran is perfectly fine as a diversion but not terribly deep, and I’d say the same about Gauntlet and Torchlight in their own ways. Dungeon Siege has not aged gracefully and was always paced poorly for such a grand adventure. Depths of Peril is a fine proof-of-concept for the unique ideas that make Drox Operative so good, but isn’t terribly compelling on its own.
It comes as no surprise that crafting a compelling ARPG isn’t easy, and these games exemplify some of the reasons. Darkstone and Space Hack are both extremely dated takes on the Diablo concept that did nothing to really set themselves apart aside from be 3D. Dungeon Siege III is a decent adventure but one that stacks up incredibly poorly to its predecessors, and Megamagic takes a solid concept and does virtually nothing with it. I know I might get some flak over Borderlands but it’s always had serious weaknesses in its combat and loot, and time has only made those flaws look worse.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my adventures with the adventuresome side of RPGs! I’ve covered a lot of classics and lesser-known games owing to how small the genre is on Steam, but there are still a few flawed gems to pick out of the pile here and there. This isn’t the end of my adventure either, as there are still a few more ARPGs I’d like to try out when I get the chance, so if there are others on Steam you’d like to hear about, let me know! Until then, good hunting, happy looting, and thanks for reading!