Darkest Dungeon: A Truly Stressful Experience

A brief review of The Darkest Dungeon


Darkest Dungeon a game that looks like your standard turn-based dungeon crawler quickly turns into a screaming panic filled madhouse as its unique mechanics force you to deal with not only health but your heroes mental states as well. The game starts with your carriage crashing and your two heroes are forced into the tutorial where you learn how to move, loot and of course fight. The 3 Brigands being tutorial enemies were more than happy to almost kill my highlander as I slowly fought my way to the hub, the Hamlet. The hamlet holds all your standard buildings a guild hall, a tavern, a blacksmith, hospital and of course a mental institution, everything you need to repair, upgrade and heal your heroes. Now onto the interesting part, the Dungeons. Each week a new batch of heroes is delivered to the hamlet via stagecoach, these heroes suck until extensive stage coach upgrades are acquired aka they come as proper leveled heroes not little weeny babies that are essentially one and done use items. You can bring 4 heroes and a number of items on adventures most useful food and torches LOTS of food and torches, i’m not going to bore you with everything you need, I will just say you need a lot.

Anyway after all this preparation you can enter your first few tutorial dungeons, well I say tutorial they say real missions. This game treats you like a professional even at level one and expects perfection in each move, while moving through hallways you can find varying items to loot, mainly gold and artifacts to upgrade the town, but occasionally even more enemies. When you finally arrive in a room its either empty or it has an item and enemies. Fighting in this game is fairly simple your heroes move based on speed and have 4 abilities to choose from and the enemies are the same. While fighting you have one way to kill enemies brute force they have two ways to kill you brute force or stress. Stress is a mechanic that builds up on your heroes when bad things happen for example when an enemy crits on their attack you gain stress, if your attack crits you lose stress.   What happens when too much stress build up you may ask? I’ll tell you, they either go insane or very rarely they become more powerful and help reduce stress.

The collector showing his “collection” of skulls to me and my party

10 dungeons later the hamlet is fully unlocked and heroes upgraded and numerous. I went into my first 5 star “your gonna die down there” dungeon I went with a nice strong team of a vestal (healer) man at arms (glorified meat shield) a leper (the damage quite ironically) and a crusader (the other damage unironically) we won barely. About 3 rooms in I was assaulted by a mystery man called the collector  while I was sitting there wondering what he collected he was kind enough to show me. It was skulls lots and lots of skulls, i’m pretty sure he wanted my party’s skulls in his collection but I had no intention of going gently into the night no I was going down fighting.

After 5 minutes of slapping floating skulls infused with the power of God and anime and their  hideous boss, I won and was rewarded with  one of the collectors trophies in a bag. Just about the last thing I wanted to have but hey I suppose it’s better than nothing. The rest of the dungeon was easy enough until the last room where I was assaulted by the other wandering boss the shambler. Unlike the collector who was a floating skull in a coat the shambler is Cthulhu made real upon this cursed earth. He’s about 10 times stronger than the collector and most of the normal bosses, he has a wide variety of poison attacks and his hideous Cthulian spawn to make things worse. He drove my crusader to madness and the first thing out of my crusaders mouth was “And that’s why I joined the order. Now fetch me a goose” truly the depths of madness. Sure enough the shambler died the expedition completed and I really wasn’t awarded enough for my actions.

The shambler and his personal abyss that he drags Parties of Heroes into

In the end, while not an easy game it is fun and rewards smart players, it is a great way to pass the time and almost any computer can run it. If your looking for a tough challenge consider delving into the darkest dungeon.