Watch out, Dark and Darker: Suddenly there's another dungeon extraction game hitting PC, Project Crawl

It was bound to happen—there's another dungeon crawling PvP extraction game in the works for those of us who prefer to get our competitive kicks with swords and spells rather than guns. Recently revealed Project Crawl is calling itself "an immersive first-person PvPvE dungeon crawler" and is planning an alpha playtest on Steam next week.

"Project Crawl offers a riveting experience, pitting players against one another and the dangerous dungeon environment," developers Mithril Studio say in today's announcement. "With a variety of characters to choose from, players will explore the mysterious darkness alone or with friends, gather loot, and battle monsters in this quest for victory and survival."

In a series of community Q&As, Mithril Studio also explains that Project Crawl will feature various races (elves and humans and so on) and classes to choose from, "environmental interaction systems," and will eventually launch into early access after playtesting. Current party size is three players, though Mithril Studio suggests other game modes and team sizes could possibly be options in the future.

Though its store page doesn't use the word, Project Crawl is definitely an extraction game. "Vanquish fearsome monsters, discover priceless artifacts, claim legendary weapons—but escape this place with stories to tell or lose it all to the abyss," it says. 

If that all sounds a bit familiar, and looks very familiar in the gameplay reveal video up above, then it's probably worth addressing the Dark and Darker in the room. There's already been a quite popular fantasy extraction game this year that quickly became one of the most played demos during a Steam Next Fest event. Dark and Daker has since spent the rest of this year embroiled in a legal dispute with game publisher Nexon that resulted in it being removed from Steam and moving to a new storefront for early access. 

The crux of that legal battle revolves around game assets—and what legal claim to them the former employer of some Ironmace developers may have on them—though it has always seemed like Nexon is actually attempting to punish the escape of the concept itself. So it's interesting to see such a similar take on fantasy extraction crop up unsaddled by any apparent connection to Nexon.

(Image credit: Mithril Studio)

"We want to make it crystal clear—we have absolutely zero affiliation with Nexon," Mithril Studio told players on Discord in June.

As we saw during the initial rise of battle royales, the videogame zeitgeist can push a lot of similar ideas to the forefront simultaneously, even totally unconnected to one another. Mithril Studio cites Escape From Tarkov as a major inspiration for its first-person, classic RPG dungeon crawl extraction concept.

So I won't accuse Mithril Studio of being too mercenary over what appears to be a popular concept. But there's no arguing that Project Crawl is launching its playtest at an opportune moment given the power vacuum left by Dark and Darker getting booted off PC gaming's biggest storefront. That's not gone unnoticed by players either of course, with plenty of chatter in the official Project Crawl Discord about how the two compare.

If you want in extra early on the next contender for fantasy dungeon extraction, there's a survey to fill out to enter yourself in consideration for the alpha playtest running next week from September 27-29.

Lauren Morton
Associate Editor

Lauren started writing for PC Gamer as a freelancer in 2017 while chasing the Dark Souls fashion police and accepted her role as Associate Editor in 2021, now serving as the self-appointed chief cozy games enjoyer. She originally started her career in game development and is still fascinated by how games tick in the modding and speedrunning scenes. She likes long books, longer RPGs, has strong feelings about farmlife sims, and can't stop playing co-op crafting games.