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Darkest Dungeon-A Review


We don’t do mucDarkest dungeonh with video games, but I have been playing one in my free time (what little I have anyways) called Darkest Dungeon. It’s a 2D dungeon crawling expedition made by Red Hook and was gifted to me by a friend of mine, saying “I know you like dungeons and killing things, so here you go. By the way, you’ll die a lot, but you’re used to it.” Ya know what…he was right.

It’s a 2D dungeon crawling expedition made by Red Hook and was gifted to me by a friend of mine, saying “I know you like dungeons and killing things, so here you go. By the way, you’ll die a lot, but you’re used to it.” Ya know what…he was right.

If you are used to the game from the adventurer’s point of view, this takes a bit of a twist. Essentially, you inherited this mansion, and you are sending adventurers out on expeditions to search rooms, kill monsters, find loot, etc. It’s pretty normal, except you have to think of it from an expedition leader’s point of view. Mercenaries are expendable. My last hero died from a freak accident of moving debris. I actually liked that guy but neglected to bring a healer by accident.

The most difficult (and unique) aspect of it is that it incorporates stress into each character’s actions. Crawling through a cave in the dark is stressful. A giant fish monster casting spells is especially stressful, and it has a lasting effect on the character. Eventually, the character can crumble and has to go to the abbey or tavern to get rid of the stress (by prayer, booze, hookers, gambling, or penance.) Characters also develop certain quirks that make it so they can’t do certain things…or while in the heat of the moment, can’t stop themselves from looting a chest, touching a demonic object, or just simply not even taking action in combat. So not only does health matter, but the character’s mental health also matters. Eventually, it just gets cheaper to make a cut to your roster rather than try and heal your heroes.

Eventually, the character can crumble and has to go to the abbey or tavern to get rid of the stress (by prayer, booze, hookers, gambling, or penance.) Characters also develop certain quirks that make it so they can’t do certain things…or while in the heat of the moment, can’t stop themselves from looting a chest, touching a demonic object, or just simply not even taking action in combat. So not only does health matter, but the character’s mental health also matters. Eventually, it just gets cheaper to make a cut to your roster rather than try and heal your heroes.

This brings to light the fact that not all adventures end in victory.

People die. Adventurers die. It’s not all gold coins and rainbows.

That’s what makes this game notoriously different from the rest of the team based RPG’s on the market. If someone dies, they aren’t getting revived. Dead is dead, and if it was your favorite hero, they are gone forever. Time to find a new favorite, and hopefully you don’t kill them this time. It’s hard to get into the mindset where people are expendable, but it’s a perspective that isn’t looked upon in most RPGs. That’s what make this dark game so interesting. Sure, there’s the grim tones and constant depressing story, but it forces you to make sacrifices where you may not want to for the good of your expedition.

Another particularly difficult part of the game is due to the fact that since you have so many heroes, it makes it hard to advance without putting some thought into what you are doing. Not only do you need to maintain a fairly balanced party to make it through each adventure, but you also have to keep your good heroes alive and level up the back ups in case you do kill your upper-level guys. So many choices to make….

With roster sizes starting at 4 and increasing, you can imagine how many possibilities you can have for a party.

After the several times I’ve played, I only have one bit of advice: Don’t forget to bring a healer.

© 2016, Randy Schmidt. All rights reserved.

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