The cruelty of Darkest Dungeon is what keeps me coming back. The latest game from Red Hook Studios has a creative new take on the RPG genre. By focusing on how stress affects a character I felt an empathetic connection with each member of my party. Never have I thought so much about the consequences of each decision. As you progress through exploration and battles each character in your party carries with them the stress of past events. Every hero in your party is changed in some way, and their stress level can either hinder or aid your journey.
Darkest Dungeon Review
At its core Darkest Dungeon is a four man, turn based roguelike dungeon crawler. But with each passing battle the game’s unique gameplay opens up a plethora of tactical choices. This allows Darkest Dungeon to make a personal connection. As a gamer you feel the weight of each character’s stress level, and each loss is equal parts frustration and intoxication. Frustration because of a hero lost; intoxicating in that you feel drawn into this world in a visceral way.
At the beginning of the game you are told that you have inherited a mansion. However, the dungeons below are infested with evil beings. You must dispatch these monsters before you can inherit the mansion. Starting out with a large pool to choose from, the fourteen Darkest Dungeon classes are diverse enough that putting together a team of your choosing is easy enough. Figuring out how to get your team to cooperate creatively is the real challenge. Each class brings their personal experience, quirks, and expertise to the table. The true reward comes with instituting your own strategies. Each hero has characteristics (like alcoholism, fear, or poor attitude) that you must consider. A character who drinks may cause great damage to foes. But, is the unpredictability of said character worth having them on your team? As your weary band of thrill seekers and treasure hunters complete objectives and obtain capital, you begin to transform your crumbling settlement into a thriving economy. If you make it through a dungeon alive, you can head back to your hamlet to cure whatever ailments your party has incurred such as disease or stress. But if you lose a hero that’s it. That character is gone for good. You will want to put together various parties so that some of your hero’s can rest. But the game mainly comes down to management. Progression through ruins, caves, and dungeons requires a balancing act of limited supplies. Light, food, health, and sanity hang by a thread as you collect loot and complete objectives. Every time you move forward in a dungeon, your light supply diminishes.
Along with managing hit points the game adds the element of stress to battle. Many things can contribute to despair such as fallen comrades, critical strikes, and darkness. As your stress bar increases there are a couple of different outcomes that can occur. Like in real life stress affects different people in different ways. When a character’s stress is maxed out there is a possibility that they can excel in the face of danger. But more likely than not stress will have a negative effect not only on the individual hero but on the entire party. The hero might not respond to your commands, injure themselves, or cause other characters to fall into depression.
Darkest Dungeon Verdict
Darkest Dungeon released on Steam Early Access January 30, 2015. Red Hook Studios used this past year to significantly tighten up gameplay. I feel it has paid off. What Darkest Dungeon does so well, and what drives you so crazy, is that it always throws a curve ball at you and never allows you to get comfortable. The environment is ripe with random catastrophes. Whether it’s a critical hit from an enemy, a surprise attack, or a poor decision on your part, you always feel like you’re on the verge of falling from a perch of security into a pit of despair. But you need to remember to look at the difficulty and loss that occurs in Darkest Dungeon as just part of the game, not as a failure on your part. All you can do is make the best decision you can and live with the results. The game tugs on your emotions, and is full of teeth grinding moments. Surviving doesn’t feel like a right of passage. Every once in awhile you’re faced with a situation where your hard-won victory might come at a high cost. It’s those moments that you feel a great sense of accomplishment. It’s those moments that keep you coming back. The stylish graphics, dire themes, and unique characters all add up to deliver a wonderful video game experience.
This GameSniped video game review for Darkest Dungeon pertains to recently released PC version. At the time of our Darkest Dungeon review, there are no set release dates for other platforms. The expected release date for the Darkest Dungeon ps4 and Vita version is sometime in the 2nd quarter of this year.
Where Can I Buy It?
- Download it on the GOG or Steam website
- January 19, 2016