Early Access: Darkest Dungeon

Welcome to Early Access, a series that covers games that are available in early release form on Steam. Today’s featured game is Darkest Dungeon, a unique blend of rogue-likes, pen and paper RPGs, and psychological horror from developer Red Hook.

What do you do in Darkest Dungeon?2015-02-06_00008

You die. More specifically your party members die. In Darkest Dungeon you’re the heir to a damned estate, and it’s your job to lead expeditions of 4 people down into the depths of the darkest dungeon and rid your family’s land from an evil curse. The end goal seems to be fighting the final boss who appears to be some sort of Cthulu like presence, but it seems like the main enemy isn’t a boss but rather the darkness and madness that overtakes your adventurers.

During an expedition your party is constantly under stress, which can either be a good thing or a bad thing for your party. I found this mechanic extremely successful at conveying the dark terror that your party faces.

Any games comparable to Darkest Dungeon?2015-02-06_00012

There is no singular game that I can say is like Darkest Dungeon, so in that regard it’s very unique. It takes the elements of room based exploration from tabletop RPGs, mixes the dungeon exploration and punishing difficulty of rogue-likes, and meshes in some turn based combat all wrapped up in a delightfully terrifying package that’s unlike any game I’ve ever played.

Is the game worth getting now?2015-02-07_00003

Without a doubt, yes. The art style is gorgeous, the theming is outstanding, and the gameplay is deep and fun. No expedition has been the same, and I never know what to expect. It’s easy for a game that’s focused on punishing you to be overbearing at times, but Darkest Dungeon never felt unfair. I felt unlucky at times, but that’s part of the charm of the game; you feel hopeless and that’s the point.

Anything silly happen?2015-02-07_00015

Well, one time I was stocking up on torches and food for an expedition and my game crashed. When I loaded back in the game had registered that I spent the gold but didn’t keep them in my expedition inventory so I had to go out with no supplies. The darkness crept in and eventually my party succumbed and started to go insane. By some stroke of luck I finished the quest, and it ended up becoming one of my favorite memories from the game.

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