Darkest Dungeon is a challenging gothic roguelike turn-based RPG about the psychological stresses of adventuring. Recruit, train, and lead a team of flawed heroes through twisted forests, forgotten warrens, ruined crypts, and beyond. You'll battle not only unimaginable foes, but stress, famine, disease, and the ever-encroaching dark. Uncover strange mysteries, and pit the heroes against an array of fearsome monsters with an innovative strategic turn-based combat system.
Too much stressful RND for me, but I just can't put it down!!
It's not really innovative or interesting mechanics-wise. The "Stress Meter" is exactly Eternal Darkness' sanity meter, just inverted to have a numerical value tick up as you play through the level instead of down. The only thing here that feels fresh & valuable is how unique characters get with all their mental traits they gain over the course of the game. The risk vs reward of letting darkness increase difficulty but give more loot is essentially like difficulty settings of any RPG out there like Diablo, Morrowind, Path of Exile (except its usually geared towards more XP). The RPG system itself isn't that in-depth strategic and you can figure out some neat optimal strategies very quickly that will get you through most dungeons if you're well-equipped and know how to manage class abilities and upgrades. It also has a last-stand "magic pixel" system that stops your party members from dying too easily. So it's not a challenging game, but what makes this game engaging is that failure, however sparse, can be very punishing.
The punishment for losing is actually in stark opposition to the system of Dark Souls. When you die in Dark Souls, you lose all of the souls you haven't spent yet and spending souls is the only way of saving them, so having the opportunity to spend souls felt like a huge relief. In Darkest Dungeon, when you lose a high-level party-member, you lose all of the upgrades you spent on them as well, which means spending money to upgrade your party feels like a huge gambit, especially when you march them into a high-level dungeon. This is the most engaging part of the game for me: the tension of sending my precious high-level heroes in to face a difficult dungeon that one or more may not return from.
Otherwise, all of the mechanics are robust, despite lacking depth. They're discrete enough not to cause frustration and the multiple classes and abilities allow for fun experimenting with different playstyles. I personally love the Plague Doctor and Occultist classes.
The Lovecraftian theme works well too. A very dungeon keeper like narrator, although some of his lines can get repetitive. I will never get tired of him saying, "Executed with impunity!" though. But I do think that more will need to be done to the psychological system in this game before the full release, because at the moment it's kind of bare bones. It's tense as all hell, and a hero reaching maximum stress has a potential to ruin your dungeon crawl. But it needs more, I think, considering it's one of the key selling points of the game if the trailers are anything to go by.
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