In this Darkest Dungeon review, we’ll take a closer look at the game to see if it’s worth it, focusing on the atmosphere & location, main characters, storyline, and DLCs available.. In today’s gaming world, so many wonderful indie titles have found a breath of fresh air through crowd funding services. Darkest Dungeon, one of the most curious offerings from indie developers Red Hook Studios, found its start just like this, having enormous success via its original Kickstarter before being released to the world initially in early 2016.
However, its aesthetics and gameplay style may come as a surprise to some—how could a turn-based strategy role-playing game be interesting? And how could it not oversaturate the gaming environments with the very specific aesthetic or dark-toned colors, gory character designs, and seemingly predictable enemy constructions?
|Type of game:||RPG|
|Developer:||Red Hook Studios|
|Total Play Time:||80 hours|
|System Requirements:||CPU: X64 Quad Core CPU, 3+ GHz
GPU:Open GL 3.2+ Compliant
RAM: 2 GB
HDD Space: 2 GB
The World of Darkest Dungeon
The world of Darkest Dungeon is pretty expansive. In typical turn-based titles, the possibilities seem pretty limited, with much of your party configurations being subject to a rather straightforward system. However, Darkest Dungeon seeks to completely upset this dynamic, giving you not just 14 different classes to choose from when picking characters for your next dungeon run, but also throwing in a handful of complications that can ensue.
Not only is the turn-based strategy thrown to the side in favor of an unpredictable probability game, but your characters can also have physical and other surprising ailments that can render them useless during a battle. For example, if a character gets too shocked during a battle, they can actually keel over and have a heart attack.
It’s these types of dynamics that make the world of Darkest Dungeon more akin to real-life storytelling and planning. Many may argue that these elements made the game more tedious than it’s worth, but we disagree. We think the elements that make it more complicated are truly a sight to behold, even if they do require more planning to interfere with your gameplay.
I think this because of how multifaceted the gameplay can be, something that many games do not do well at all. These types of conflicting elements may be something that makes other games run slower, but the way Darkest Dungeon operates consistently like clockwork makes it a pleasure to behold the process of and actively engage in.
Atmosphere & Location
Some of my personal favorite parts about Darkest Dungeon are the environments and locations. The game operates on a strictly two-dimensional basis, so it’s not that the environments are necessarily immersive or capture you in the same way more hyper realistic games do, but instead the environments and locations within the game carry immense character that makes each location a true joy to explore.
In particular, the bosses you encounter and the dungeons in which they’re contained are especially threatening, making every battle you must fight feel like a truly harrowing experience.
One of the most endearing parts about this game, though, is how the aesthetics never feel repetitive. When playing games that rely heavily on color palettes that utilize more dark, toned colors and specifically medieval aesthetics, it’s easy to feel like there’s a general template that each level fills out to portray a location. Thankfully, this does not happen in Darkest Dungeon—instead, each location feels very imaginative and unique, while also retaining a sense of artistic unity throughout the game.
This becomes important as you get to the less desirable parts of the game that require a lot of grinding in the final dungeon runs, as the environments surrounding you do a lot to quell any anxieties about the areas you have to fight in.
The characters in this game don’t exactly go that deep due to their relevance to the storyline, which isn’t that deep on its own. Instead, the characters that you can choose from for your dungeon battles are mainly described for these purposes, with brief descriptions of each character aided by their statistics and how to use them best in battle. There is an overarching narrative of an inheritance and wonderful voice acting within the game, but it isn’t as detailed as it could be.
It should be noted, though, that throughout my gameplay we weren’t necessarily craving this sort of elaboration. The game has a storyline and, as a result, the characters are entangled within it, but not enough to separate highlighted characters or really delve into the story of each one.
The adventurers that you’ll hire in order to assist you on your journey are all very interesting characters, though—one of the most developed aspects of this game is the character design, with each character having something unique and important to offer to any given party.
As a player, you’ll find that a lot of your strategy will go into planning out your dungeon runs to ensure that you’ll have the most advantages you can have, something that makes this game a total blast to play. On a purely artistic level, the designs themselves are pretty badass as well—check out my favorite, Elers, a plague doctor and researcher.
The storyline is rather uninteresting but does enough to set the story in motion and provide the character with a basis to unravel the adventure. You begin as the inheritor of an estate who receives a letter finding out that (in trying to unveil the secrets of the estate) a relative accidentally unleashed creatures instead. From this point onward your role is removed, making you an unseen character that then employs fighters to help you in your quest to help you gain back control over the estate.
Like we stated earlier in this Darkest Dungeon review, what the game does well is introducing real-life elements to the characters to show you the very real effects that shock, paranoia, and terror can have on people. This is a fact often ignored in many role-playing games, so it’s a welcome change in pace to see this happen in Darkest Dungeon.
DLC & Expansion Packs
As of right now, there are 2 DLC packs for Darkest Dungeon available for purchase: The Crimson Court and The Colour of Madness. Both of these packs will add on new stories, plot points, and features to make the games more interesting. As far as expansion packs go, they are both very engaging, but we believe that the first one is far better than the second. This is because the story is personally more interesting and we find the element of introducing vampire dynamics to the game’s mechanics to be something that really does make the game much more engaging to play.
Darkest Dungeon is one of those games that comes along every few years and grabs you by the collar with intensity and intimacy. As far as indie games go, it’s a complete success, but even from a major developer this title would stand out heavily in a console’s line-up. It has gotten success, and for good reason, for turning the turn-based strategy genre into something relatable, engaging, and tension-building. Our only concern with the game is the necessary grinding and planning which can start out as an interesting prospect at first, but towards the end feel very excessive.