Recommended Game -Darkest Dungeon
Darkest Dungeon is a rule breaker, a transgressive and volatile little game.
It is dark and brooding and moody and violent. It will throw down the gauntlet and dare you to pick it back up. Video Games don’t behave in this way, and yet Darkest Dungeon does.
I love it.
Make choices wisely, as you won’t get to take them back later. Characters that die stay dead, and develop physical and emotional scars as they wander through the dark. Darkest Dungeon is fundamentally a turn based RPG with heavy Roguelike elements. You’ll bring up to 4 heroes at a time into a dungeon to complete the Objective. Party Composition is important, you must cover vulnerabilities as best you can.
As with most Strategic RPG’s, knowledge of the interlocking systems is your greatest asset. When selecting supplies to bring with you into the Field, you should consider what it is you are likely to be doing there. For instance, how much Food to bring to sustain your Party. Or how many Bandages you are likely to require. Antidotes, Keys, Medicines, and in particular Torches.
Torches are the means by which you minimize danger, the primary way in which you will be lighting your path through the many dungeons.
Your Roster of Heroes interact with the Dungeons, and each of their successes and failures will determine either their course of evolution or cause of death.
For instance, I have a Hero that survived a horrible boss battle. While begging the game to let me win, I said in passing that I would rename the Bounty Hunter to “Batman” if he managed to survive. He pulled a rabbit out of his hat and won, with him alone remaining. So now his name is “The Batman” and he seems to be my best Hero ever… But he too will die eventually.
I’m just going to be using him to raise all kinds of Hell until then. *After many brutal campaigns, The Batman fell at the hands of The Fanatic. RIP
Heroes will also develop certain Quirks. These Quirks are a large part of what gives each their unique personality. These come in Positive and Negative flavors, and will change depending on what happens to the Hero. Those that survive encounters with certain bosses will often develop unique Quirks that Heroes cannot otherwise develop.
A generally less beneficial relative of Quirks is the Disease. Diseases are generally Negative, though some are less negative than others. Diseases may be Cured in the Sanitarium or in the Camp menu by Plague Doctors and Grave Robbers with certain Camp Skills.
These are what any and all Non Trap and Non Encounter items you interact with in the Dungeons are called. There are many types and they are generated Procedurally along with the Dungeons themselves. Your Supply Items can be used to interact with these, and the correct item will be spent and produce a beneficial interaction. Or in some cases will produce a unique and rather negative interaction. And in all other cases will consume the Supply Item and do nothing.
Combat in Darkest Dungeon is tense. You’ll be praying to the Random Number Gods in most of the more intense encounters. There are 4 Positions on each side. The relative locations of Characters between each other are what determines their available attacks, at least for the Player’s Heroes.
Some attacks are more situationally useful than others, with the Front Positions 1-2 usually offering the best Offensive options while the Back Positions of 3-4 offer the best Control and Healing options. This all being said, the Class of a Hero will determine which Moveset they will have access to from each Position.
Status Effects are very important and will have their own sub section. The most important one for you as the Player to know about is “Death’s Door” and it’s dire impact on every Battle in the game. A Hero that has their HP reduced to 0 will not Die immediately. They will be in a state of Death’s Door. From this point, any further damage will kill them. Unless you can heal them to at least 1HP or higher first. There is a Stat called Death Resist, and this is the Hero’s likelihood of not dying should they be hit while at Death’s Door. It usually is a little over 60%, but you’ll not be wanting to play dice with Death in Darkest Dungeon.
Positions and Skills
Characters may only have up to 4 Skills Equipped at a time usable in Battle. These have required positions 1-4 with 1 being the Front and 4 being the Back. Most attacks require the Character to be in one of several Positions or even only in one particular Position. For example the Hellion has an attack called Iron Swan that can only be used from the Front/1 Position that can only strike an enemy in the Back/4 Position. The Iron Swan is very unusual because it’s very rare that a Front/1 Positioned Hero can strike an enemy in the Back/4 Position.
Bleed and Blight are the most prominent, being the major “Damage Over Time” effects of the game. How much damage they deal per turn varies depending on the level of the initiating attack, and it stacks. If I hit an enemy with 2 Bleed attacks each dealing 1 Damage per turn, then the enemy will start taking 2 Damage per turn. For how long also varies according to the Attack used. If an enemy is killed with Bleed or Blight, they will not leave a Corpse. This can be important for more detailed plans that you may need to employ later on.
Buff and Debuff are their own things, they change Stats Upwards or Downwards. These are situationally important, but become very important when relevant to an existing vulnerability or strength. For instance, Bleed Resistance being raised or lowered is harmless or devastating to the Player depending on how many Bleed attacks they have incoming. On the other hand, a Buff to more commonly used Stats like Damage % will almost always be good for the receiving Character and bad for their enemies.
Horror is a rarer Status Effect that acts like a Damage Over Time towards Sanity. This generally only applies to Heroes and not Enemies/Monsters.
Marked is an unusual Status Condition. A Hero either has it or they don’t, and it weights the Random Number Generator during combat towards attacking the Marked Hero. Enemies that are Marked are dealt extra damage by certain Hero attacks, sometimes by as much as 90% over normal. So Marking enemies can be very helpful if your Party is configured to capitalize on it.
Diseases work much like Quirks, but hold their own category and there is a Stat for Disease Resistance that may defend against a Hero picking up a Disease in the first place. They are generally Negative, sometimes devastatingly so. You’ll need to cure it either using somebody’s Camp Skill such as Leeches for the Plague Doctor or by sending the Hero to the Sanitarium and paying a fee.
This is the core mechanic of Darkest Dungeon that gives it a famously lethal edge. Each Hero can only take a certain amount of Stress before they become Afflicted. You won’t like them when they are Afflicted, so don’t let their Stress meter fill up. Once Afflicted, the Stress meter can be filled a second time to trigger a Heart Attack. Heart Attacks are horrible things that immediately place a Hero on Death’s Door. And if your Hero suffers a Heart Attack while on Death’s Door, which will happen to you, it ignores Death Resist and is 100% Fatal. Bye Bye.
Accessories you’ll usually encounter as either Loot or as Rewards for successful Quests. These are very useful for customizing and tweaking your Heroes to accommodate their strengths and weaknesses. Two different Trinkets may be equipped at a time on a Hero. Cannot be identical Trinkets.
The Crimson Curse
Including the Crimson Curse DLC into your run of Darkest Dungeon is entirely optional. But I of course enabled it to give myself the maximum possible amount of challenge. Because I am a masochistic bastard. The catch is, this DLC has a way of invading the main game in a very literal sense.
Darkest Dungeon is about making the best of a bad situation. Much as the text says that precedes the start of every game. This is very true. Surviving your mistakes is the defining feature of this game, and it can be harrowing. Darkest Dungeon can stomp on your toe and spit in your eye even when you’ve Won. This potentially Pyrrhic Victory is a concept players may never have witnessed in a game before playing Darkest Dungeon. It’s when you “Win” but at an immense cost. On the other hand, when you Lose in Darkest Dungeon, it takes everything you put at stake. All 4 Heroes, all the money ventured, all their Trinkets.
And then it asks you to try again. I always do. And I love it. Darkest Dungeon demands Players calculate risks and gamble wisely in order to win. Find your fortune by plumbing the depths of the Darkest Dungeon today!
I am Robert Kelly Ball, you’ll see me come back to update this Recommendation to HOPEFULLY create a better resource for Darkest Dungeon Players while I continue playing it.
I’m 30 years old today and a parent of one delightful seven year old. I love just about everything about videogames, and am thrilled that I can write about them. Advocating for the poor is my other hobby, and I will gladly offer whatever aid I can if approached.