Posted on Jun 21, 2015

I picked up Darkest Dungeon in the Steam Summer Sale last week and I've been really enjoying my time with it.  It's a gothic fantasy RPG resource/team management game that was KickStarted in Mar 2014 and is currently on Steam Early Access while under development.  Don't let "Early Access" disuade you, the game is fully playable right now.

You don't play any singular character in Darkest Dungeon but instead manage a roster of adventurers who you lead into the areas surrounding your town to defeat monsters, push the story forward, and get loot to build up your town and recruit more adventurers.

The problem is that all that adventuring is stressful and your team members will get injured and develop neurosis if you push them too hard. This makes management of your team really important and gives us a whole new kind of dungeon crawler to play.

There's lots to recommend it:

Gorgeous: Everything is just humming on the look and feel side of things. The game has beautifully grotesque 2D art, eerie music that totally gets you in the mood and great sound effects that make you feel every hit.  And the narrator is just killing it!  I can listen to him say "indefatigable purpose" all day long.

Unconventional classes: the closest DD gets to a traditional archetype is the holy warrior Crusader. All kinds of out-there classes like jester, bounty hunter, grave robber, plague doctor and even leper (!?) will be available to add to your "team".

Gender balance: along with the whacky classes, both genders are (nearly) equally represented, which is really great for a change!

Football manager for RPG fans: I think for me the neatest thing is the whole "sports management" angle.  Despite the gothic setting, sports analogies abound in DD's mechanics.  Managing your "starting line-up", contemplating and investing in up and coming "rookies", benching injured players and sending them to "rehab", and "firing" dungeon delvers who have seen one too many unmentionable horrors to be rescued.

Simplification without sacrificing depth: weapons, armor and general character leveling are linear upgrades with no customizations. You'll have enough on your plate managing your roster and town upgrades that this simplification is much welcome. Indeed, the roster and your party make-up is where you put together your "builds", choosing classes who's abilities synergize with each other, and equipping trinkets to compliment strengths or compensate for weaknesses.

Challenging: DD has rogue-like elements.  Everything is procedurally generated, and there's some kinds of dice roles/random number generation going on with the combat.  Those dice can be cruel, despite your best laid plans. And because it's perma-death, it really stings when you lose one of your best "star players".  You'll never be quite out of the game - you can always invest in your "farm league" and recruit someone up to the big time - but it's a definite set back, not just in game terms but even emotionally: you do get attached to some of these characters!

The game's not finished yet - just last month they added 2 more classes and in another month they'll be adding a new disease status effect and yet another class - but it's pretty excellent right now and well worth the full price.  Check it out on Steam.

 


 

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Comments

Yea :)

Yea, I think you'd dig it Dal, the sports analogies are pretty strong while you still got that RPG/leveling/treasure and items loop.

And the classes and art are just so interesting & thematic; I love the fact that I can have a "Leper" in my party and some of his camping abilities involve taking his mask off to destress and heal, but this ends up freaking out (stressing) his fellow party members.

And the Occultist has some powerful camping abilities but because he's communing with eldritch evil spirits, your torch level drops. (the torch mechanic represents your available light while out in the dark halls and pathwayss; more light = easier fights, less light = more stress, tougher enemies but more crits and more loot)

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