6 Video Games To Play If You Like D&D
Published on February 1, 2021
If you can’t get your group together to play D&D, or if you just want more RPGs in your life, these video games are great for scratching that D&D itch!
Kamil S - - Unsplash
All of us here at Arcane Eye have been avid gamers our whole lives. A few months ago we discussed our favorite tabletop games, and you guys loved it! So this time we are taking another crack at it, but discussing our own list of best video games to play if you like D&D. Just like in our previous article, you will find some video games similar to D&D, or at least video games that we recommend for fans of the world’s greatest roleplaying game. There are some obvious choices, and we’ve decided to include some of them, but we would like to also suggest some games that you may not have heard of or think of right away. Don’t expect them to all be D&D in a visual format, but read our descriptions, see what we think of them, and decide for yourself if they might be interesting. Enjoy!
Darkest Dungeon is a role-playing video game in which the player takes a group of adventurers and guides them through a series of dungeons below a mansion they inherited. The core gameplay loop consists of spending time in town outfitting your party for a dungeon, and then heading into the dungeon in the hopes of coming out alive (and sane!). As you progress through the game, you will uncover more of the mysteries surrounding the mansion, the original owner of the estate known only as the “Ancestor”, and the truth about the evil lurking below.
The allure of Darkest Dungeon lies in learning which heroes are best for which tasks, which supplies you need to survive a dungeon, and when to give your favorite heroes a break so they don’t go completely insane. Resource management and strategic decision making are the keys to success in this game.
The fun (and frustration) of Darkest Dungeon is that even with exceptional planning, something always goes wrong. Accepting this, and making the best of a bad situation, will eventually lead to overcoming the insurmountable odds. When you get wiped out, dust yourself off, hire some new expendable heroes, and get back in there!
- Amazing narration that contributes to the interesting lore
- Perfectly encapsulates the oppressive atmosphere of gothic/Lovecraftian horror
- Procedurally generated dungeons and many character classes is great for replayability
- Playing on harder difficulties can feel grindy in the middle game
- Bad luck can result in a party wipe and needing to hire new heroes, extending the length of the game
- Hired heroes are expendable and die often, resulting in a lack of emotional connection to your party
Available on: Windows, macOS, Linux, PS4/5, PS Vita, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
In Disco Elysium, the player is in control of a detective who has lost their memory and must solve a noir-style murder mystery in the fictional world of Elysium. As you progress through the game, you uncover more about the protagonist’s past and learn more about this fascinating world. Disco Elysium is such a unique and beautiful game that I am reluctant to talk much about the plot here. A large part of the game addresses what takes place in the protagonist’s mind and is a very introspective experience.
This is one of those rare games that stuck with me for a long time after completing it. Some may find Disco Elysium dreary and slow paced, and while there is no real “beat ‘em up” combat for a change of pace, I never once felt bored in my 30+ hours with the game. The main reason why this is a video game similar to D&D is that skill checks occur frequently. The likelihood of success is determined by your ability score in that skill combined with a dice roll.
Very much like D&D, nearly everything you want to do aside from walking around will require a skill check. Stats of course influence what you are best at, and there are three main archetypes for your preferred playstyle of detective (Thinker, Sensitive, and Physical). To take things further, conversations and events lead you to unlocking choices in the “Thought Cabinet”, a system that allows you to internalize certain thoughts about who you think you are. Once internalized, these beliefs come with bonuses or handicaps to your character’s abilities.
All in all, Disco Elysium takes elements from Dungeons & Dragons and expands on them in ways not possible in a traditional pen-and-paper medium. If you are interested in playing Disco Elysium, we would recommend waiting until March 2021 for the updated “The Final Cut” version. This definitive version will include full voice acting for the entire game, plus new quests, characters, and more.
- Beautiful art direction
- A story that makes you invested in the narrative and forces you to think about deeper topics than most games
- Skill check system that is very reminiscent of D&D
- No real combat system for those that love action RPGs
- LOTS of reading (a free update with full voice acting is on the way!)
- This game is not lighthearted and features heavy subject matter throughout
Available on: Windows, macOS, PS4/5, Stadia, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the most obvious video games for people who like D&D. Set in a classic fantasy world called Rivellon, you take control of a party of adventurers who were banished to an island due to their ability to use “Source” (a powerful type of energy stronger than regular magic).
Trying to escape the prison, the party stumbles upon something much more disastrous – evil beings from another world have begun to invade Rivellon! Quests and NPC interaction are definitely the highlights of this game. Every quest seemingly has multiple outcomes, and choices in sidequests can have a powerful effect on your options as you move through the main story. The main quest seems to have the most choice; there are at least four ways just to escape the starting area, and possibly more that I haven’t discovered yet!
In addition, using the environments to your advantage and coming up with interesting ways to approach a situation is often rewarded. So many times I’ve thought “I wonder if I can…” and the game actually lets you do it! Perhaps the most exciting thing about Divinity 2 for D&D players is the fact that the entire story can be played in co-op mode. In single player you have control over up to four characters, but if you play online, you and up to three friends can play through the entire campaign together. In addition, there is a “Game Master Mode” that lets a player fill the role of the DM by controlling enemies and environments to create the most D&D-like experience possible in a video game.
You can look for fan-made content on the Steam Workshops Divinity 2 page, use pre-made maps, or even create your own levels and world maps. You can watch a great tutorial on Game Master Mode from the developers by clicking here.
- Closest possible experience to multiplayer D&D in a video game
- Tons of races, classes, and builds to create for your characters
- Playable companion characters are not locked into a set class, so you can build your party how you see fit
- Creativity in how you handle situations is rewarded
- Enemies have both Physical and Magic Armor, encouraging you to build your party around one type of damage to break it more quickly
- Managing the inventories on multiple characters can be cumbersome, especially on console
- Combat can be really tough in the early game and almost too easy by the end of the campaign
Available on: Windows, macOS, PS4/5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy IX (or Final Fantasy 9) is your classic Japanese Roleplaying Game, commonly known as a JRPG. In fact, Final Fantasy is the originator of the genre, and its massive influence can be felt even in games released today. In our opinion, the ninth iteration may be the best Final Fantasy game for fans of D&D.
While the previous three games in the franchise explored more futuristic societies, Final Fantasy IX takes the series back to its roots by being set in a classic medieval fantasy world. With a strong turn-based combat system, iconic soundtrack, loveable characters, and an exciting plot filled with themes of identity, purpose, loss, and friendship, this game holds a place in the hearts of many people around the world. Although it was released in the year 2000, don’t let that keep you from experiencing this masterpiece.
The graphics and gameplay hold up surprisingly well, especially because the remastered version has updated HD graphics and some quality of life improvements. A common criticism of the game is that many felt the graphics took a step back in terms of the more “mature” style of past games, but in our opinion, the graphics perfectly suit the nostalgic feel of the world of Gaia and its inhabitants. To put your mind at ease, each Final Fantasy game has a completely independent story, so you won’t need to play the previous games in the series to get the full experience.
- Strong plot with mature themes and satisfying character growth
- Recognizes and celebrates the aspects of classic fantasy RPGs
- Grindy combat for those who aren’t fans of JRPGs
- No voice acting
- Some may be put off by the cartoonish graphics
Available on: Windows, iOS, Android, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Shadowrun Trilogy (2013, 2014, 2015)
Based on the popular tabletop role-playing game of the same name, the Shadowrun trilogy combines dystopian cyberpunk science fiction and urban fantasy in the best way. In this world, you will find elves, dwarves, and dragons, but also face challenges you would expect in an urban cyberpunk setting, such as corporate conspiracy, crime, and the horrifying effects technology can have on the mind and body. Although it might sound strange, the Shadowrun games are definitely fantastic video games to play if you like D&D. Character creation in Shadowrun is similar to D&D.
Each of the races has its own unique stat boosts and maximum level for each stat. There are a number of premade archetypes to choose from, such as mage, street samurai, or decker, but you are also free to allocate stats at your own discretion. Stats you invest in directly influence how you need to approach combat, but also open up new dialogue options and ways to achieve your missions. Gameplay has two main components. Outside combat, you are free to walk around the environments, talking to various NPCs and using your character’s strengths to achieve your goals. For example, a locked door may be hacked to get it to open, but you might also be able to use your charisma to convince someone to give you the key.
In combat, the gameplay is very similar to the XCOM games. Battles are turn-based, and each character has a certain number of action points to move, use weapons, or cast spells. The chance to hit an enemy is a percentage, based on cover, distance, and weapon type.
The first game in the series, Shadowrun Returns, is a rather sparse showcase of what the medium has to offer in terms of storytelling and gameplay. By the second game, Shadowrun: Dragonfall, these kinks have been ironed out to create a truly engrossing narrative with tight, tactical gameplay. The stories are independent of each other, so feel free to skip Shadowrun Returns and just try out Dragonfall! The third game, Shadowrun: Hong Kong, is also fantastic and hosts the best visuals out of the three.
- Tactical combat
- Immersive storytelling and well-written characters
- Many possible character builds for any playstyle that impact how you can approach situations
- Decisions can influence story outcomes
- No voice acting means lots of reading
- Many cyberpunk tropes for those who are familiar with the genre
- The first game of the trilogy is by far the weakest
Available on: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (VTMB) is another video game based on a tabletop role-playing game.
In VTMB, you assume the role of a fledgling vampire who is thrust into the secretive world of the supernatural domain. The greatest strength of VTMB is the sheer amount of choice you have in how you play. To start, you choose one of seven vampire clans to align yourself with, a choice that resonates throughout the entire experience. This, combined with your stat allocation, helps dictate what kind of person you are in this world.
You may choose to be a silver-tongued gentleman who talks his way out of any situation, a monstrous vampire who hides in the sewers, or someone who just wants to go in with guns blazing. Combine all of this with a thrilling story, interesting lore, and well-written characters, and you have yourself an amazing game. While it was originally released with mixed reviews and many critics declared it a “flawed masterpiece”, VTMB is now regarded as one of the greatest RPGs of its time.
The unofficial patch addresses most of the technical issues and restores gameplay elements that were cut from the official release. If you can get past the dated graphics, this is a game we strongly recommend. With a highly anticipated sequel being released in 2021, this is definitely a video game for fans of D&D.
- Deep character customization and roleplaying potential
- Optional first person perspective increases immersion
- Extensive lore with many bits of information to uncover in repeated playthroughs
- Combat feels clunky, especially gunplay
- Buggy, but issues are addressed with a free unofficial patch
- The setting has very little in common with the D&D-style of fantasy
Available on: Windows
Thanks for reading! These are some of our favorite video games as fans of D&D and we hope you’ve found a game or two that you’ll love. If you have any games you think we missed or should talk about, let us know in the comments below. Subscribe to Arcane Eye for more articles on everything Dungeons & Dragons!