Grim Dawn

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Grim Dawn
Grim Dawn logo.png
Developer(s) Crate Entertainment
Publisher(s) Crate Entertainment
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release February 25, 2016
Genre(s) Action role-playing, hack and slash
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Grim Dawn is an action role-playing game developed and published by Crate Entertainment. Crate Entertainment announced on July 27, 2009 that they had licensed the Titan Quest engine from Iron Lore[1][2] and announced Grim Dawn's development on January 21, 2010.[1] Initially, few details were revealed, with Crate Entertainment simply stating that Grim Dawn is set in a thematically-dark fictional world loosely based on the Victorian era.[3] Grim Dawn was released on February 25, 2016.


The game takes place in Cairn, a dark, war-torn world where a once proud empire has been brought to ruin and the human race driven to the edge of extinction. Cairn has become ground zero of an eternal war between two otherworldly powers, the Aetherials and Chthonians, one seeking to use human bodies as a resource, the other intent upon destroying the human race before that can happen.

Humans at some point had come into communication with extra-dimensional beings. They learned things from the whisperings of these otherworldly entities and eventually attempted to open a portal to bring one across. Naturally, being paranoid of the unknown as humans often are, they also devised a way to imprison it once it came through. Through experimentation, they learned that these beings, made of aether, a sort of spiritual energy, could fuse themselves with the human mind, possessing and controlling their host if they were able to subvert the human's will. The researchers discovered that a human, once possessed, retained heightened abilities after the aetherial being was purged from them. Naturally, this research got out of control as such things always do. The researchers brought over more aetherials, they got loose, the aetherials were able to then open more portals into their own world, bringing over large numbers of their brethren.

While the Aetherials were seeking to use human bodies as a resource, the Chthonians appeared to destroy the human race before that could happen. This cataclysmic war not only decimated human civilization but warped the very fabric of reality and, in its wake, gave life to new horrors.

The world of Cairn can never be fully restored to the way it once was. Grim Dawn is about survival and adaptation to the grim new reality. Small enclaves of human survivors exist scattered throughout the world, holed up in hidden refuges. These humans have quietly watched the warring invaders destroy one another and have become wise to the strengths and vulnerabilities of their otherworldly foes. A few survivors have begun to exhibit strange new abilities after surviving possession or exposure to the warp. These unnatural powers are feared by some but give many new hope of launching a resistance to fight the "outsiders" and reclaim what's left of their world.


Like other prominent action role-playing games, the majority of the gameplay in Grim Dawn will center around fast paced combat and the collection of loot - armor, potions, weapons, and money. Crate confirmed in an interview that Grim Dawn will feature a crafting system similar to that used in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos's popular mod Defense of the Ancients. Grim Dawn will also build upon existing systems present in Titan Quest, such as improved physics, location specific damage effects, dismemberment, and a completely redesigned quest system. In redesigning the quest system, Crate confirmed that Grim Dawn will feature factions.[2]


Grim Dawn's development is notable for Crate Entertainment's open appeal to their fans for financial support. In a posting on the game's official website, the developers announced that after a period of increased email activity from fans wishing to donate to Crate to support the project that they had added a pre-order page to the game's official website to allow fans to contribute to the project in an official manner.[4] Fifteen days later in another posting on the game's official website, Crate stated that they had received financial support from gaming website Gamebanshee and one of the authors of the gaming related webcomic Penny Arcade.[4] Despite this support from their fans and various websites, Crate manager Arthur Bruno stated in an interview with The Escapist that pre-orders made for only a very small percentage of Grim Dawn's total budget.[5] In a later interview with gaming website Big Download, Bruno again confirmed that donations and pre-orders alone were not enough to completely fund the project. Additionally, Bruno revealed that Crate intended to provide new gameplay content for Grim Dawn in the way of expansions every six to ten months.[2]

On April 17, 2012, Crate Entertainment opened a project page on Kickstarter, setting a funding goal of $280,000, with the halfway point of this goal being reached in four days.[6] It finished up with $537,515, well exceeding its initial funding goal.[7]

Crate released an alpha version of the game (Build 8) through the Steam Early Access program on May 15, 2013.[8]

On February 26, 2014, Act II went live with many tweaks, specifically to the HUD, lore codex, and it "roughly doubled the playable content and raised the level cap to 35".[9]

On October 01 2014, Build 21 was released, which added the Arcanist character class to the previous four: Soldier, Demolitionist, Occultist and Nightblade.

On December 20, 2014, Act 3, Chapter 1 was released with Build 23. The level cap was also raised to level 40.

On February 25, 2015, Act 3, Chapter 2 was released with Build 24, and the first stage of the Faction overhaul implemented.

On May 11, 2015, Build 25 was released. The build included the completed Faction and Bounty Systems.

On June 12, 2015, Build 26 was released. This build included the completion of Act 3, allowing the player to become an ally of either the Order of Death's Vigil or the Kymon's Chosen factions. Also with this update, the level cap was increased to 50.[10] Crate founder Arthur Bruno stated at the time, "Coming up in the next few months we will release a yet unannounced 6th class, the new skill devotion system, legendary items and Act 4, in which you will face the final confrontation with the Aetherials and Chthonians. Thanks for sticking with us on this long journey!"[11]

On August 22, 2015, Crate released a 6th Mastery, the Shaman, with Build 27.

November 25, 2015 saw the addition of the first part of Act 4 and the implementation of the Devotion system.

On December 23, 2015, Crate released Build 29, and announced Grim Dawn as Feature and Content Complete, with the inclusion of the Act 4 finale, the addition of Elite and Legendary difficulties and a level cap raise to 85.


Original release[edit]

On February 25, 2016, the game entered full release with v1.0.0.0 (build 31 hotfix 1).

Downloadable content and expansions[edit]

On August 3, 2016, downloadable content for the game was released, introducing a new game mode called The Crucible.[12]

In December 2016, Grim Dawn's last update of the year contained a new area called "Port Valbury" which contains an "aetherial-themed roguelike dungeon".[13]


Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
Metacritic (PC) 83/100[14]
Review score
Publication Score
IGN 8.7/10[15]

Grim Dawn received generally favorable reviews from 29 critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[14]

Leif Johnson of PC Gamer wrote: "If anything, Grim Dawn is both empowered and chained down by its retro stylings, preventing, say, the randomized levels of Diablo III and thus its endless potential for replay. But on the upside, none of its recent competitors deliver that old-style hack-and-slash experience so purely and so satisfyingly, and its hybrid class system makes each new jaunt a little different. More than once it found me playing until dawn, and my appreciation for any game that manages to do that is anything but grim."[16]


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