Adventure (1975-76) by Will Crowther & Don Woods - "The Colossal Cave Adventure game, produced in the '70s, was the historic first "interactive fiction" game...(the player takes part in) an ongoing story in a fantasy setting -in this case, an exploration of Colossal Cave in Kentucky. But this Colossal Cave, though remarkably similar to its real-life counterpart, was also very different: Magic was afoot in the cave..." - Also see Examining Adventure and Don Woods's interview for GET LAMP.
Download the original 350 point Adventure as written by Willie Crowther and expanded by Don Woods here: Kevin Black's DOS version of his and Bob Supnik's DECUS version, available as a DOS executable - Kenneth Plotkin's version, available as a DOS executable, MS Fortran source code and the PDP-11 Fortran source code from which the former was derived. - Don Ekman's version, available as a DOS executable and MS Fortran source code, derived from Fortran source for the PDP-11/70. There is also an Amiga executable, compiled from the MS Fortran source.
Zork I: The Great Underground Empire (1980), Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz (1981) and Zork III: The Dungeon Master (1982) by Marc Blank, David Lebling, Tim Anderson & Bruce Daniels - History & More - "The Zork Trilogy is set in the ruins of an ancient empire lying far underground. You, a dauntless treasure-hunter, are venturing into this dangerous land in search of wealth and adventure. Many strange tales have been told of the fabulous treasure, exotic creatures, and diabolical puzzles in the Great Underground Empire." - Get the complete trilogy plus extras for Win 95, DOS and Mac
David Lebling revisits Zork at the 2014 Game Developers Conference
HeroQuest (2002+) by Gerwin Broers - Webpage & More - "HeroQuest is a turn based computer game in a fantasy setting, Inspired (by) Milton Bradley's and Games Workshop's boardgame 'HeroQuest'. You can play it with 1 to 4 players on 1 computer. furthermore you can create your own quests in the editor..." - Includes a "self-generating Magic Dungeon."
The Sorcerer's Cave (1995) by Peter Donnelly - Website & History - "A simple, fast-paced "dungeon crawl" based on the author's popular card game, once called "the best game since Diplomacy". You form an exploring party and enter a six-level cave full of treasures, creatures, and traps. Try to make friends, defeat enemies, and steal as much booty as you can carry. The game can be played in less than half an hour and is equally enjoyable for children and adults." - Play THE SORCERER'S CAVE ONLINE
DND & Variants
DND (1976) by Daniel Lawrence - "Arguably, (DND) is the first computer role-playing game. According to Daniel, he built it with nothing else (except Dungeons & Dragons) at the time to refer to. This version (PC port) fixed a bug when 'evade' was attempted in a room with four walls..." - History
DND Dungeon Maps by Peter Souza - Includes 5 full map sets from the original game, 5 from the remake/sequel, and the two most popular user-generated maps (Sewers and Underdelve) - Two flavors: With spoilers and Without spoilers - Thanks, Peter!
Telengard (1982) by Daniel Lawrence - History - DND in realtime with its own cool features. - "Using wits, magic and true grit, your character delves deeper into the depths of Telengard in this real time fantasy role playing game." - Daniel Lawrence interview - Also see Telengard for Windows (remake), and play TELENGARD ONLINE
The Compleat Dungeons of the Necromancer's Domain* (1988) - "Dungeons of the Necromancer's Domain was a ground-up rewrite of DND by RO Software. It was indeed "original" in that it wasn't simply a port, and used a new dungeon file format, new dungeons, and was heavily optimized and cleaned up from the original RO Software port...(Also included) are two excellent tools for dungeon creation, The Domain Master and the tool which the author himself used for quicker generation of dungeons, Maze." - History - Original DND Dungeons for DotND (2012): "The Cavern", "Lamorte", "Svhenk's Lair", "Telengard" and "The Warren" - Underdelve (2005), a challenging 20 level megadungeon (Underdelve maps).
*The game, 12 multilevel dungeons and everything else!
Hack & Variants
Hack (1985) by Andries Brouwer, Jay Fenlason, Kenny Woodland, Mike Thome, Jon Payne & Don G. Kneller - "(A) classic. Initially created as a clone of rogue that allowed for more monsters. This has been a recurring theme in the development of hack and later nethack and slash'em ... Let's add more of everything, including weird effects in specific rare situations... It's a true classic. As evidenced from the extreme popularity of NetHack and a few variants, it's replayability is nearly infinite." - History (and see NetHack and Rogue below)
NetHack (1987+) by Mike Stephenson and the NetHack Dev Team - Website & Family Tree - "Your goal is to grab as much treasure as you can, retrieve the Amulet of Yendor, and escape the Mazes of Menace alive." (A minimal description of what may well be the most robust and complex rpg dungeon simulation yet created.)
Slash'EM (1996+) by Tom Proudfoot (created Slash) and the Slash'EM Dev Team - Website - Btw, Slash'EM means Super Lotsa Added Stuff Hack - Extended Magic. - "From the land before 3DFX, before VGA graphics and DOOM, before the IBM PC, way back in the dark ages of Unixland, there was a game. They called it Rogue...From this basis, Hack was born. Soon Hack became NetHack, because it was developed by many people (and has nothing to do with hacking the internet)...people played this on many machines... But...the reclusive masterminds of NetHack (only grace) the world with new versions as they see fit...usually a new version every good number of years...there was much gnashing of teeth...people began making their own versions of NetHack to tide themselves between magical releases. Slash'EM is the (continuing) saga of one such variant..."
Moria & Variants
Moria (1983) by David J. Grabiner and the Moria Dev Team - Website - "The game of Moria is a single player dungeon simulation. A player may choose from a number of races and classes when creating a character, and then `run' that character over a period of days, weeks, even months, attempting to win the game by defeating the Balrog which lurks in the deeper levels." - Play MORIA ONLINE
Angband (1990+) by Ben Harrison and the Angband Dev Team (Angband is currently maintained by Andrew Sidwell) - Website - Angband, a popular Moria variant, "is a freeware computer dungeon exploration game based (loosely) on the books of J.R.R.Tolkien. You explore a very deep dungeon, kill monsters, try to equip yourself with the best weapons and armor you can find, and finally face Morgoth -The Dark Enemy." - Download the classic v3.0.5 - Play ANGBAND ONLINE
Zangband (1994+) by Topi Ylinen, Robert Rühlmann and the Zangband Dev Team - Website here or here - ""Zangband is a single player computer role playing game set in the world of Amber created by the author Roger Zelazny. Zangband is a variant of the game Angband which is descended from the game Moria..."
Rogue (1980) by Michael Toy, Glenn Wichman, Ken Arnold and the Rogue Dev Team - The classic that started it all. - Play ROGUE ONLINE - A Brief History of Rogue (original link), Family Tree, More Info - "(The object of Rogue is) to descend into the Dungeons of Doom, defeat monsters and find treasure and come back with the amulet of Yendor (Sound familiar?). Dungeons of Doom are a randomly generated maze of rooms or corridors connecting them. Each level of dungeon has a staircase leading to a lower dungeon level. The dungeon has traps, secret doors, treasure and of course monsters, which will attack the player character on sight."
Crypt of the Necrodancer (2014) by is a "hardcore dungeon crawling (roguelike) rhythm game. Move to the beat with the game's epic sound track or your own MP3s." (more)
Brogue (2009+) by Brian Walker is "a traditional 26-level crawl to the Amulet of Yendor. Development focus is on a smooth learning curve with strategic depth and intuitive/beautiful appearance within the strictures of ASCII/Unicode display" (Roguelike Basin). Get it here.
Tales of Maj’Eyal, AKA ToME, is "a free, open source roguelike RPG featuring tactical turn-based combat and advanced character building. Play as one of many unique races and classes in the lore-filled world of Eyal...With a modern graphical and customisable interface, intuitive mouse control, streamlined mechanics and deep, challenging combat, Tales of Maj’Eyal offers engaging roguelike gameplay for the 21st century." - Website
Lost Labyrinth (Freeware version - 2001+) is "a so-called "roguelike" roleplaying computer game. Lost Labyrinth has the following features: relatively short gameplay (about 10-20 minutes); very high replayability; nearly everything in the game is randomly generated; a lot of options during the character generation --each character type requires another strategy to survive; game focus on exploration --killing monsters does not give an experience bonus; Multiplayer games on the same machine (up to 3 players with keyboard, mouse and joystick); "Zelda"-like graphics, sound and animation; smooth scrolling of game screen; FreeWare" (The original website is defunct but a snapshot of the site can be viewed here.)
Ancient Domains of Mystery, or ADOM (1994+) by Thomas Biskup "is a roguelike video game...The player's aim is to stop the forces of Chaos that invade the world of Ancardia. Like most roguelikes, ADOM uses ASCII graphics to represent the game world. It features a wilderness map that connects different types of dungeons. Most dungeons are randomly generated..." (Wikipedia page) - Also see the current official Ancient Domains of Mystery website and Thomas Biskup's website
ZZT (1991) by Tim Sweeney - "(A) superb game...It pushes ASCII to its limits, creating a stunning range of graphical effects that set a new standard for text-mode games. Its complex, detailed rooms offer a combination of arcade-style action and mind-bending puzzles to solve. Most impressive is the fact that all of its rooms are arranged to form cohesive "worlds" that provide a strong narrative drive to the game play." - Tim's Text-Mode Game Page - Note: ZZT has a game speed slider. Set it to Slow.
Sword of Fargoal (1983) - Remake by Jeff McCord - Website - "You are on a quest to retrieve the Sword of Fargoal, which lies between
levels 15 and 20 of a dungeon. The dungeon levels are populated by an ever-regrowing number of different monsters..."
Castle of the Winds (1989) by Rick Saada is a fantasy rpg (with basic gfx) in which you explore dungeons, kill monsters, collect all manner of items and treasures and so forth. Typical dungeon crawl material but this one is nicely done and it has a story (steeped in Norse legend) that is very well written. Recently, the author of the game posted this on his webpage: "What I didn't expect was that Castle of the Winds would generate some 13,500 registrations, and continue to generate mail to this day. At this point, I give the game away for free. Here's a zip with both part one (the free part) and part two (the part you had to register to get)." Cool. - Castle of the Winds Wikipedia page - Play CASTLE OF THE WINDS ONLINE
Science Fiction Roguelikes
DoomRL: Doom, the Roguelike (2012) by Kornel Kisielwicz and Derek Yu "is a fast and furious coffee-break Roguelike game, that is heavily inspired by the popular FPS game Doom by id Software" - Website
PRIME (2011) by Psiweapon and Michal Bielinski "plays like dungeon exploration roguelike with focus on interactions between game objects, humor and science fiction themes. Its approach of including everything and the kitchen sink harkens to NetHack. You can fight off an away team of redshirts with a bat'leth while being clad in stormtrooper armor..." (more)
3069 (2009) by phr00t is "a fully featured, 3D futuristic free role-playing game for Windows."
The Slimy Lichmummy (2006) by Ulf Astrom "is a hacklike with an unusual cyberpunk/fantasy setting. You start out with a shotgun and a dozen shells. Encounters include mutated ratmen and grenade-throwing chainsaw ogres..." (more)
Please note: Many of the older games listed here --NetHack and Dungeon Crawl, for example-- run fine in Windows, however most DOS based games (and games for older versions of Windows) won't run natively in Windows 7+. To be able to play the DOS games listed here, download the latest version of DOSBox and a decent easy to use front end, like DBox. Both are safe, free, open source programs with no ads, registration or spyware. Install DOSBox first and then DBox (or similar front end). Use DBox to easily manage and play your DOS games. Note that DOSBox works great for nearly all DOS games, so have fun with it!
Last update: July 7, 2018
Est. February 5, 2009
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*J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Dungeony Art by Phosphorous