“I beg you, return home, claim your birthright, and deliver our family from the ravenous clutching shadows of the Darkest Dungeon”
I’m nearly a year late to this hype train, even while it’s been happily making its rounds on YouTube, Facebook, Steam, and basically everywhere else. Darkest Dungeon, made by Red Hook, is a roguelike dungeon-crawling RPG that forces players to micro manage how they explore areas, and handle stress.
And it is a thing of absolute, terrible, beauty.
Everything is drab, and downtrodden, even as your heroes try to survive inside the variety of horrifying areas, the mood is somber. I cannot explain how perfectly the game nails the atmosphere, because even the turn-based combat (usually a massive turn off for myself) manages to ooze with evil.
To give those unaware an idea of how this game plays, and what its central themes are, imagine, if you will: Someone taking Lovecraftian lore, mental illnesses, masses of loot, and some poor souls (then blending them together), thus producing this tainted masterpiece.
It’s arduous for sure, but it’s an authentic RPG experience that will make you cry like a baby when (there’s no ‘if’, since this is basically guaranteed to happen) you lose a valued party member who you’ve been training for the last five hours. Losing characters is especially traumatic since you can actually name your heroes, and customize their clothes before setting out.
In layman’s terms, you can be fully able to visit the grave of your best friend, closest family member, or spouse in the graveyard should they meet an unfortunate ending during a quest.
But nothing compares to the extensive stress, quirks, and afflictions system.
Dungeon crawling isn’t easy. And this game reminds you constantly, by pushing stress, fear, possible instant-death, even madness, onto your heroes. Every trip is plagued by them losing grip on reality, and if not managed properly then they will become a part of the ever-growing graveyard.
I assure you that I’ll be writing more, and more about this gem over the coming weeks (despite the fact it’s a massive exception to my rule).