Dark, Darker, The Dankest of Them All!

by Neco | Oct 7, 2015 | Darkest Dungeon | Early Access Version: 10958

Note: This article is over 12 months old, covering a game that was in development and the game may or may not have changed since this article was published.

Are you ready for some of the toughest choices and most heartbreaking moments of your gaming life?

Some of you might have given the Guild of Dungeoneering a go already, bathing in the merry satisfaction when a dungeon is beaten and being mildly saddened when your favorite adventurer succumbs to mighty adversaries. But despite its levels of awesomeness, the Guild of Dungeoneering is a pretty casual and light game, sprinkled with humor and somewhat funnily looking monsters.

The Darkest Dungeon is quite the opposite. It is, indeed, dark, scary, gloomy, and absolutely unforgiving. I am making a parallel between the two because they do have certain similarities: dungeons to be crawled, heroes to be chosen for the missions, quests, base to be upgraded with whatever boon is found, enchanting narrator, and ways to modify the difficulty while playing. Luck also figures in both, but in the Guild it is a much more prominent feature, given the nature of combat there.

Regardless of all these similarities two games couldn’t feel and play more differently. The entire world of the Darkest Dungeon is in various shades of black and red, with twilight being the brightest it ever gets. Quickly you will come to realize that even a flickering spark can mean the world to you and your jaded fighters.

A couple of miscalculated attacks and your run would end in tears, if corpses could cry.

It goes pretty well, eh? A couple of miscalculated attacks and your run would end in tears, if corpses could cry.

Every time you go on a mission you would have to choose 4 of them and prepare them for the lurking dangers ahead. Prepare them within reason because nobody is foolish enough to think that anything but bravery and unyielding courage could actually save you from the horrors crawling the sprawling tunnels. There the chosen 4 would have to go through tough battles, diseases, curses, madness, and lunacy. Should they remain without light things become much more hairy. Stress levels rise, ambushes come, and your heroes go. For good.

Because there are no saves. Of course, the campaign is saved but it would load only from the last autosave. Players cannot replay scenarios or battles and cannot make up for miscalculations. When adventurers die, and die they will, they stay dead for good. There are no ways to resurrect them, nor to redeem the investment made in their development. Do you still think the Darkest Dungeon is not challenging?

Well, try playing it with corpses on. In one of the latest updates the developers of the game – which is still early access, by the way – added is a feature, which makes the corpses of the fallen enemies stay. Being a 2D game, this means that they act as a shield for their comrades in the back, preventing them from being attacked by your front line. It is possible to clear the corpses with one or two swings but two attacks in a turn-based combat are quite a lot. In fact, many people cried out that this feature makes the game way too hard, which is why Red Hook Studios made it optional but also made some abilities to clear corpses.

So far the Darkest Dungeon looks nothing short of impressive. Hard, merciless, very dark, but also created with absolutely delightful mastery and insight. It offers great diversity, multitude of tactics and team compositions, a vast array of skills and gear to boost your champions, tough battles, ever tougher choices.

Even looting is a tricky proposition in the Darkest Dungeon.

Even looting is a tricky proposition in the Darkest Dungeon.

Are you willing to abandon this quest or prefer to sacrifice some of your warriors? Is this run more important than the campaign? Is it crucial for its success? Will this guy ever serve you well enough? Which skills to equip for the battles ahead? Can you afford to let your strongest fighter rest ad recuperate before the next run?

I won’t lie, the satisfaction when you get the things right is immense. The Darkest Dungeon challenges you at every step of the way but this is what quality gaming is all about – use your skills to the maximum, fail, try again, fail better, learn, evolve your tactics, bring home victory. It is definitely not a game for the faint of heart.

Thanks to the successful Kickstarter campaign the game seems to be set on the right course and it is certainly a title we will be following in the months to come.

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