Developer: Red Hook Studio
Producer: Red Hook Studio
At it's core Darkest Dungeon is a hard as nails, push-your-luck, turn based RPG, which is a very good core to have. With a stunning and unique art style, gruesome enemies, and haunting soundtrack, the game truly lives up to it's title. Within the first 15 minutes of play you realize this isn't your Grandma's RPG, between the opening fights and the narrator bluntly telling you that most of your heroes will end up in the ground waiting for sweet oblivion, DD makes it known this is a different kind of title. The game turns a simple premise of reclaiming your family estate from the forces of evil into an addicting experience that will have you losing track of time as you say to yourself "Just one more dungeon..."
How Does It Play?
With so many parts coming together to make an amazing whole, it is really hard to put a pin in Darkest Dungeons gameplay. The most basic way to describe the game is that you assemble a team to run missions into your old estate to attempt to reclaim sections. The combat that ensues is quick, brutal, and surprisingly tactical, with the placement of your heroes in their line determining how effective they will be. As you progress through the various hallways and rooms, encountering traps, loot boxes, or random events, your torch will begin to burn out, adding to the dark, depressing feel that weighs heavily on the shoulders of your assembled party. They will become stressed the longer they have to spend on mission in the estate, and with each fight they come closer to the edge of sanity. If they do lose what little is left of their minds, you will see them behave erratically and discover what truly lies within their hearts. Every death pushes the group towards the edge, and no one can come back from the other side. Permadeath and Iron Man Mode are always on and add a tremendous sense of caution to every move you make. Diving in with haphazard gameplay will only cause you to fail in the end. Every mission is new and exciting, with a new layout and rewards placed throughout, the replay-ability of Darkest Dungeon is high. The types of characters encountered, the missions, the brutal bosses and minions, everything about this game seems unique and fresh. This feels like a win, especially if you like games that not only don't hold your hand, but actively slap it away.
When the lights fade, the voices rise.
How Does It Look?
DD is a darkly beautiful title. The character and enemy models blend into the setting amazingly well, providing a captivating experience that will pull you in for hours at a time. The brutal bloody corpses that block positions, the dazzling attacks, to the haunting estate that you are fighting for, every bit of this game is unified under a unique style that stays true to itself all the way through. The game looks genuine to what they tried, and ultimately succeeded to craft.
Dark, gruesome, and beautiful.
How Does It Sound?
Brutal, bone-crunching, and flesh-rending audio brings the vision of the game home. Every thud, slice, and shot taken sounds exactly as it should in this amazing title. Darkest Dungeons score is dark and unsettling, and when the action kicks in it provides a good base level for the excitement of combat. The narrator chimes in providing encouragement, or berating bad decisions. Any death is accompanied by his disappointment, any success, by his jubilation. The narrator is one of my favorite aspects of the game, as it feels good to have company in the depths of the estates dungeons. The audio gives the game it's ultimate sense of depth, and does so in an amazing way.
Surprisingly deep audio for a side-scrolling title.
Can You Control It?
Simple controls and menus make the game extremely accessible, controls that allow anyone to enjoy this title without a barrier to any of the gameplay. The easy menu system supports a surprising amount of depth and fleshes out the game and it's systems beautifully. Overall, it uses a simple mouse click for just about anything. Easy.
Easy controls that anyone can figure out.
How Does It Feel?
Darkest Dungeon feels like a side-scrolling Dark Souls. Unforgiving, brutal, and challenging. The varied enemy types mix pretty much anything that has had a "Chaos" enemy type with a heavy Lovecraftian feel. Cthulu is definitely a strong influence here. I can't gush about this game enough. I absolutely love how good this game feels when you beat something, and how honestly hard it is to lose a good fighter. The game breaks you, punishes you for a slight misstep, and flips your world upside down even if you played on the safe side. Darkest Dungeon will not be easy, but I can promise you it will be a worthwhile adventure.
The Feel: 2.0
Feels like a good time, bathed in blood, and slaughtered in the living room.