The hour has grown late. The world has darkened and the old mansion, your ancestral home, is filled with terrors beyond any half-dreamt nightmare of the human mind. There is no turning back, there is no do-overs, save points, or retries. There is only a team of heroes and the encroaching darkness of insanity.
With a Lovecraftian flair, this video game is more than just a dungeon crawler. Set in a land of nineteenth century horror, you must recruit unique teams of heroes, each with their own skill sets, strengths, and flaws. Each dungeon will put your team in not just physical harm but psychological danger as well. If one of your hero’s health becomes too low they will only die, but if their stress is raised too high, they run the risk of becoming damaged in other ways.
There are no save points. The game autosaves your progress, which means each action you take is permanent. If a hero dies, he or she stays dead and you will have to recruit another and train them from the bottom up. Besides leveling heroes and completing objectives you are also expected to level up your town, which will give your heroes a variety of new options including new items, armor, skills, and much needed rest to reduce their understandable levels of affliction.
In a gaming world where death no longer seems permanent and failure is hardly ever an option, it is both refreshing and terrifying to play a game where each step could be your last, and tragedy will eventually strike. That team of heroes you raised to level 4, with all the perfect skills and gear, they will stumble into encounters where something goes horribly wrong and some, if not all, may die. You will have to retreat and regroup, if you can.
With more and more modern games returning to the retro aesthetic of death and failure, like Dark Souls and Bloodbourne, it is reassuring to see this trend continue in the Indie game community. Darkest Dungeon will keep you on the edge of your seat, praying that each hit by your eldritch foes does not drop your glass cannon to death’s door, or stun your healer. You will curse, you will weep, and you will love every minute of it.
Even though the game is not yet finished the developers, Red Hook, have already crammed it with thousands of man hours of work and care, with promises of much more great things to come. Unique hero classes, dozens of monsters, hundreds of unique items, and an aesthetic quality that will grab you right away. Each corner of the game is packed with the delicate touches that you would expect from developers who continue to show a true love for their game and gaming in general.
Can you keep your heroes together as you face unimaginable horrors, stress, disease, famines, and the ever-encroaching darkness? Step into the Darkest Dungeon and find out.