If you’ve been following the site for a while then you already know this. Darkest Dungeon is an RPG that I love. I’ve played it for more than 150 hours on Steam and I can’t wait for the upcoming sequel.
Let’s have a look!
It’s a very difficult role-playing game with turn-based combat and a dark atmosphere.
Here, you will quickly learn that your characters are not the chosen ones that have been blessed with the power to save humanity!
They are normal adventurers with qualities and faults, who most likely will break down under the weight of horror when the time comes.
After a short tutorial, you will find yourself in Hamlet.
This is where all the strategic planning happens before you jump over in one of the available dungeons.
A dozen buildings are there and you will have the opportunity over the game to improve them.
The most useful is the blacksmith and the guild that allows you to improve your characters. The abbey and the tavern are also very useful to reduce their stress levels.
Improving the buildings is cool, but doing so is very expensive. You will need to make decisions as to when to spend resources upgrading the town versus helping out your adventurers.
Finally, it is also in the city that you can train your next group of adventurers and buy provisions that will allow them, hopefully, to survive the next dungeon.
Managing the stress of your characters is the most unique mechanics of the game and probably the most difficult to master.
In addition to the usual life bar which must not go down to zero, the characters also have a stress bar that must not reach 100. When it inevitably reaches the maximum, the character develops a mental illness such as paranoia or masochism.
The system is really well done and adds a huge strategic layer to the game.
If one of your characters becomes paranoid for example, he’ll sometimes refuse heals and buffs from allies. He’ll sometimes attack them thinking they’re enemies and so on.
Having a character go mad is very dangerous for the group and spirals down quickly. An entire group that sinks into madness quickly ends up dead.
Becoming good at managing stress is a must to succeed.
To do this, some characters have useful skills. But their impact is small and it is necessary to give a week free to the adventurers now and then so that they can relieve stress at the tavern or church.
Once you’re ready, it’s time to start a dungeon with a team of 4 guys.
The classic formation that works well is a tank in the front, a healer in the back and two characters that do a lot of damage to complete the party.
But it’s rarely that simple and Darkest Dungeon bosses all have unique mechanics, so you’ll be forced to experiment with formations and vary everything.
Dungeons require different strategies and when you start an expedition, the dungeon itself is quite simple. You have a map and you walk from room to room to find your goal.
And then, like in a good old Final Fantasy, fights start randomly as you move.
Battles are very engaging. Good planning helps a lot but there is a lot of randomness that is completely out of your control in the game and it can bring exciting (and sometimes frustrating) situations.
Especially towards the end of the game when you get into veteran level dungeons (5 and 6), enemies hit so hard that sometimes in a single round, one of your characters gets massacred and that goes from full life to the grave.
The trick is not to get attached too much to the characters!
The visuals of the game are amazing. The characters and backgrounds are beautifully drawn and give a dark and Gothic atmosphere that works perfectly with the gameplay.
Music is on the quiet side except when you are managing the town, but the narrator’s voice is exceptional. You’ll learn to love his deep voice and his depressing commentary.
I think I’m biased but I believe the game and its DLCs have incredible value.
It’s just a great game.