An old-school DnD dungeon crawler demo is a massive hit on Steam

Dark and Darker is a classic D&D co-op RPG game that blends old-school dungeon crawling with Tarkov-style looting and extraction, and it's a massive hit.

Dark and Darker demo: An adventurer carrying a torch is swarmed by bugs, or small blobs of darkness, to his terror

One of the most popular Steam games right now isn’t out yet: it’s a free demo for a classic-style RPG game that’s reminiscent of some of the first-person Dungeons & Dragons-style adventures of the mid-1990s. Dark and Darker combines that old-school sensibility with the extraction looting of Escape from Tarkov, and the demo is a certified hit on Steam.

The free Dark and Darker demo is available as part of the Steam Next Fest, so you can play it right now. Developer Ironmace describes it as “an unforgiving hardcore fantasy FPS dungeon PvPvE adventure,” which does hit on a lot of the key points. In it, you’ll head into the depths of an ancient citadel, either alone or as part of a party, searching for priceless treasures to sell to merchants back at the tavern.

You won’t be the only one searching, however. Other adventurers will be on the hunt, too, and you’ll all have to contend with deadly traps and vicious monsters that dwell in the caverns and labyrinthine crypts in the citadel.

To my eye, it looks like a modern version of the old Ultima Underworld games that Looking Glass Studios produced back when it was called Blue Sky Productions. Those games inspired greats like Deus Ex, BioShock, and The Elder Scrolls series, and are still a worthy source of inspiration today.

YouTube Thumbnail

Your adventures in the citadel are limited by time: eventually, a horrible swarm of darkness will expand to fill the entire dungeon, and if you’re caught in it, that’s it – all the loot you’ve found is gone, presumably left for some other over-adventurous party to discover.

Since the Dark and Darker demo launched on Steam, it’s been peaking at more than 100,000 concurrent players a day – putting it up in the top ten most-played games on Steam along with the likes of Dota 2 and Hogwarts Legacy.

We’ve got more of the best co-op games on PC if you’re looking for something to play with your friends this weekend. However, if you’re hellbent on giving the above demo a try, check out Dark and Darker system requirements to ready your rig for the hardcore RPG.

Itching to play the co-op caper on the go? Dark and Darker Steam Deck compatibility is currently a thing, so you’ll be able to take the demo with you on your travels, and pre-plan your character with our Dark and Darker classes guide. Of course, you also might want to give our list of the best DnD games a read as well.