14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (2024)

Highlights

  • Villain-focused games offer a unique twist from the standard hero's journey to build dungeons and thwart intruders.
  • Games like Overlord 2 and Evil Genius 2 let players control evil beings in elaborate schemes for world domination.
  • From KeeperRL to Legend of Grimrock 2, there's a variety of dungeon-building games inspired by the original Dungeon Keeper series.

There's just something so inherently interesting about playing the 'bad guy' every now and again. There are so many games out there about a hero going through the standard hero's journey to be a big hero and save the world in the end, but what about a game featuring a villain just trying to build their dream dungeon?

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Well, while this might sound like too niche of a concept, there are actually a fair number of games that scratch that itch. Granted, the gameplay loops and general genres of these games widely differ from game to game, but all of them share a common goal of the player managing or building a dungeon and fighting off intruders.

Updated July 4, 2024 by Jacob Buchalter: One might think that games that specifically feature the player building their own dungeon would be few and far between, but there are actually quite a few of these games. Of course, in comparison to any other subgenre of video games, the dungeon-building subgenre doesn't have a lot, but the fanbase for these types of games is constantly on the hunt for anything that even comes close to beloved classics like KeeperRL or Dungeon Keeper. So, let's look over every video game we can to see how many could possibly match the description of a game where the player builds (and manages) their very own dungeon.

14 Orcs Must Die (Series)

Hard to Say it Counts, But it Comes Close

14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (2)

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

Orcs Must Die (Multiple Games)

Robot Entertainment

Robot Entertainment

N/A (Multiple Games)

$9.99-$29.99

The Orcs Must Die games technically might not count as games where one can 'build their own dungeon', but this is a hyper-specific subgenre of games, so anything that even comes close to matching the requirements is going to be included. In the Orcs Must Die games, players spend their time building an absolute meat shredder of traps in the different levels, and it's their job to both takedown and trick the incoming onslaught of orcs into these traps to build up combo points, look cool, and have fun in co-op.

It's much less building their own dungeon fortress and more like building their own Sen's Fortress from the original Dark Souls AKA a whole above-ground and underground dungeon absolutely teeming with traps with every step the orcs take. While Orcs Must Die: Unchained was a bit of a divergence in terms of gameplay, the original Orcs Must Die and Orcs Must Die 3 are great games to check out for anyone who likes Tower Defense games and dungeon-building games.

13 Impire

A Tough Recommendation All-Around

14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (3)

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

Impire

Cyanide Montreal

Paradox Interactive

February 14th, 2013

$19.99

Impire is a game that absolutely wears its inspirations on its sleeves, those of course being beloved Dungeon Building games like Dungeon Keeper and KeeperRL. However, while it does try, Impire is a far cry from these games, both in terms of gameplay and in terms of quality. This is a game with a lot of bugs, a lot of decent ideas with poor execution, and a lot of tedious gameplay. So, if it's not the most beloved game out there, why is it on this list?

Well, again, the subgenre of games where players can build their own dungeon is incredibly small, and it only felt fair to include any and every game that even came close to fitting into this category, even if the game itself has a lot of issues. Plus, though our experience with Impire was less than stellar, that doesn't mean that'll be the same experience for everyone, so at the very least it's worth mentioning that this game exists.

12 Overlord 2

Barley a Dungeon Builder, But it Had to Be Included

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

Overlord 2

Triumph Studios

EA & Codemasters

June 23rd, 2009

$9.99

Moving on now to Overlord 2. Keep in mind that this is Overlord 2 and not Overlord 1, as the first game isn't nearly as beloved or as polished as the second one. Regardless, when people think of games where they get to play as the villain, the Overlord games are almost always the first ones they'll think of, even if they didn't actually play the Overlord games. Part of this is probably due to the old advertisem*nts for the first Overlord game that, for some reason, stuck with a lot of people. But the other part of it comes from the fact that these games are basically just evil Pikmin.

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In Overlord 2 players will be spending the majority of their time exploring the various biomes, solving puzzles, and overthrowing the Romanesque kingdom in direct opposition to the Overlord, but there are some base-building sections as well. The 'hub' area for Overlord is the Netherworld, and while players don't actually build onto or manage this hub dungeon very much, they do upgrade and explore it at length.

11 Evil Genius & Evil Genius 2: World Domination

Technically More of a 'Lair' Than a Dungeon, But Still

14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (6)

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

Evil Genius

Elixir Studios

Sierra Entertainment

September 28th, 2004

$9.99

Evil Genius 2: World Domination

Rebellion Developments

Rebellion Developments

March 30th, 2021

$39.99

Next up are two of the most well-known games on here outside of the Dungeon Keeper games, both Evil Genius games. In particular let's talk primarily about Evil Genius 2: World Domination, as it basically builds upon the systems introduced in the first game in every way. Evil Genius 2 takes place after the events of the first Evil Genius in which the player has already taken over the world. However, that world domination is starting to falter, and players will need to craft the perfect lair, obtain the proper minions, and complete enough schemes to take total control of the world back.

For those who don't really want to be constantly building towards objectives, Evil Genius 2 does offer a sandbox mode as well, which allows players to really get into the lair-building side of the game. In general, while the humor in this game franchise is lighthearted, it's pretty heavy mechanically, which is typically something any fans of these dungeon manager-type games will be excited to hear.

10 Legend Of Keepers: Career Of A Dungeon Master

Choose From A Selection Of Keepers To Defend Your Dungeon From The 'Heroes'

14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (7)

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Master

Goblinz Studio

Goblinz Publishing

April 29th, 2021

$19.99

Moving on to a game called Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Master. And, right off the bat, this game is one of the most 'on brand' games on this list for a Dungeon Building game. In this roguelike management simulator, players take control of a 'Keeper' employed by the monster-run Dungeons Company who is paid to defend the company's dungeon full of treasures from those greedy humans.

In any other dungeon-crawling game, players would be in control of a party of adventurers as they steadily make their way through a dungeon full of traps, puzzle rooms, and all sorts of monsters. Well in this game, players are building that dungeon in reverse, and doing their best to stop the humans from making it to the Keeper. And all the while, they'll steadily recruit new monsters, build dungeons in new areas of the map, and even go on company retreats.

9 Dungeons 4 & Dungeons Franchise

From A Long Line Of Comedic Dungeon-Managing Games

14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (8)

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

Dungeons 4

Realmforge Studios

Kalypso Media

November 9th, 2023

$49.99

Up next is a game that's much more about the 'dungeon management' than it is about defending the dungeon. In Dungeons 4, players once again take control of Thayla, a very evil and very witty Dungeon Master who uses an army of 'Snots' (basically little goblins) to steadily build up the perfect dungeon underground.

Building the dungeon itself is a lot of what makes up this game, as the more 'action-oriented' sections of the game are intentionally much simpler by design. While it seems like fans seem divided on whether this game improves upon the last game or not, all-in-all Dungeons 4 is a game people can easily sink a ton of hours into.

8 KeeperRL

Simple By Design With A Focus On Replayability

14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (9)

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

KeeperRL

Electric Succubi

Electric Succubi

March 31st, 2015

$19.99

Readers of this list are very quickly going to notice a pattern with all of the entries on here, all of them are heavily influenced by the original Dungeon Keeper series in some way. And, KeeperRL is no different, though it does twist the formula much more towards the roguelike genre than most of the other games on here.

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There are a lot of comparisons between this game and Dwarf Fortress, though this game is a bit simpler and also has both dungeon 'keeping' and dungeon 'defending' in its gameplay loop. Essentially. KeeperRL is a deceptively complicated game despite its graphical style, and it has a pretty absurd amount of replayability to boot.

7 War For The Overworld

A Spiritual Successor To Dungeon Keeper 2

14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (11)

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

War for the Overworld

Brightrock Games

Brightrock Games

April 2nd, 2015

$29.99

As far as Dungeon Keeper-inspired games go, War for the Overworld might be the one that's the most 'faithful' spiritual successor. But, since Dungeon Keeper 2 is a game that came out all the way back in 1999, War for the Overworld builds upon the back of Dungeon Keeper 2 while also modernizing a lot of the more 'dated' aspects.

There are a ton of different ways to experience this game, whether it's singleplayer, multiplayer, or even through the Steam Workshop experiencing player-made custom scenarios.

6 Naheulbeuk's Dungeon Master

A Bit Of A Mix Between Dungeon Keeping & Dungeon Simulation

14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (12)

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

Naheulbeuk's Dungeon Master

Artefacts Studio

Dear Villagers

November 15th, 2023

$24.99

Moving on to probably one of the most recent dungeon-building games on here, Naheulbeuk's Dungeon Master. Outside of its difficult-to-pronounce title, NDM is a game that falls into the subcategory of 'quirky comedic' Dungeon Builders.

In this world, Dungeons are managed like companies, and the one the players are given control of has not been managed well up to this point. It's a game that's very similar to other well-known titles like Dungeon Keeper 2 or Evil Genius, but still manages to add a few new things to the subgenre and make its own identity known.

5 Boneraiser Minions

Vampire Survivors Meets Shovel Knight

14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (13)

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

Boneraiser Minions

Caiys

Caiysware

March 9th, 2023

$4.99

And for the least expected inclusion on here, let's talk about Boneraiser Minions. Now technically, this game is much more similar to something like Vampire Survivors than it is to Dungeon Keeper. However, in Boneraiser Minions, players take control of a Boneraiser (yes, that's really the name) who is constantly summoning (or Boneraising) new minions so that they can survive as long as possible against the incoming waves of, primarily human, enemies.

The Dungeon Building part is actually meshed incredibly well with the Survivors-like part of the game, as each 'stage' is a different dungeon that players can put all sorts of traps and other structures up around to help buff them or fight off the incoming enemies.

4 Legend Of Grimrock 2's Map Editor

Crawl Through Dungeons & Then Build Your Own

14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (14)

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

Legend of Grimrock 2

Almost Human Games

Almost Human Games

October 15th, 2014

$23.99

Now technically this next game is more of a dungeon crawler than it is a dungeon-building game, but there's a catch. Legend of Grimrock 2 has a map editor mode where players can create their own Dungeons to then crawl through or share these creations with others.

The core gameplay loop of the Grimrock games is a lot of fun, so having a potentially infinite amount of content made by the fanbase adds even more replayability to a game that already had hours upon hours of game to enjoy.

3 Steamworld: Build

Accidentally Making A Dungeon To Provide Resources For The Town

14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (15)

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

Steamworld Build

The Station

Thunderful Publishing

December 1st, 2023

$29.99

The Steamworld IP, despite not being one of the most 'well-known' IPs out there, is one with a very dedicated fanbase. Whether it's Steamworld Dig, Steamworld Quest, Steamworld Heist, or even Steamworld Tower Defense, players have a Steamworld game for just about every genre out there.

Now, with Steamworld Build, there's a city-management game to add to this mix. While the primary aspects of this game aren't built around the idea of Dungeon Building, the mines that players steadily develop over the course of the story basically function as a dungeon. So, players end up spending half of their time in this game building a dungeon without even realizing it.

2 Buggos

Instead Of Heroes Vs. Villains, It's Bugs Vs. Humanity

14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (16)

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

Buggos

Intrepid Marmot

Intrepid Marmot

March 17th, 2022

$14.99

Buggos is also a very different sort of Dungeon Building game here, as it represents more of the Starcraft-esque RTS side of things. Rather than some evil overlord building their dungeon to protect against the humans, players take control of a race of alien bugs as they steadily build their hive and work to wipe off every human spawn point on the map. It's a very concise and simple game with an incredibly unique art style that a lot of people probably have not heard of before.

1 Dwarf Fortress

Quite Possibly One Of The Most Beloved Games Of All Time

14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (17)

Name

Developer

Publisher

Release Date

Steam Price

Dwarf Fortress

Bay 12 Games

Kitfox Games

December 6th, 2022

$29.99

And last up, what would this list be if Dwarf Fortress wasn't included? There's not all too much to say about this one, as Dwarf Fortress might be one of the most well-loved games of all time by its fanbase.

Again, a bit of a unique inclusion, given that players aren't really managing a 'dungeon' in the strictest sense in this game, but are building a life for their dwarves and this is typically underground. The amount of depth this game has is mind-boggling, and if anyone is looking for a game that could hold them over for years to come, Dwarf Fortress is a great recommendation.

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14 Games That Let You Build Dungeons (2024)

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