It isn’t often that I say these words, so enjoy them while you have them: I have never seen a video game like this one before.
Yeah, that’s right. The guy who has played ‘em all hasn’t played anything like Darkest Dungeon before, a new turn based RPG that is now available on Steam.
Right off the bat, Darkest Dungeon doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen before. It uses graphics that appear to leap off the pages of some dark comic book, animations are very limited and brief, yet the parallax effect makes them somehow still seem swift and violent.
Your job is to recruit and direct adventurers who want to go into the dark dungeons beneath a castle and face down monsters. Sounds simple, but it’s not. You build parties of four and you have to pay attention to balance. Send in too many big guys wearing heavy armor and you’ll die to the finger wiggling mages on the other side. Send in too many ranged attackers and they will be scattered like chaff when the huge and ugly dungeon boss swings its two-handed axe.
You have to equip your adventurers, you have to decide on their skills and then put parties together with complementary skills. Of course dungeons are both situational AND random, so you have no way to plan with absolute certainty, which means you literally take your life in your hands every time you step into the caverns.
And if that isn’t enough, in addition to the damage your characters face from monsters, they all have stress levels. Crawling into a deep hole is stressful, we get it. It falls to us as the mastermind of the teams, to notice when someone is close to having a stroke and disengage them from dungeoning.
What characters you choose, with which equipment, and using what set of skills all matters. So does the order you arrange them in your party. And yet sometimes, NONE of that helps you and it’s all down to a lucky roll of some unseen dice.
This game is H-A-R-D hard and makes no apologies for it. You can die in a million ways, especially at first, and it can be tough to build up your parties. Later on, when you’re well established in the game, it takes you as much time to design and equip your teams as it does to clear the dungeon itself.
If you’re looking for easy mode RPG titles, Darkest Dungeon is not your cup of roleplaying tea. But if you enjoy a challenge and the ambience of creepy graphics, sharp sound effects and music, and absolutely excellent voice acting are your idea of how to spend a weekend, then hustle on over to Steam and drop your $24.99 on Darkest Dungeon.
I’m going to give this game a 9 on my 1-to-10 scale, but that’s a 9 with a caveat emptor. If you buy this game and quit it because it’s hard, you have been forewarned. Great game, though. Seriously great.
That’s Into Gaming, I’m Mark Lautenschlager.