Dungeon crawlers are a dime a dozen these days, right? So what makes this one so special you might ask? Well, for starters the hand drawn artwork is a refreshing touch to the proceedings. Darkest Dungeon combines real time movement with time honored turn based combat to craft an engaging experience. Players control a roster of heroes to traverse the depths of the dungeons but that’s not the distinctive feature of the game. The unique feature is that each hero is vulnerable to calamities that befall a person experiencing high stress levels.
According to the developers of the game Red Hook Studios, the heroes subjected to high stress levels (and there’s a lot in the game that qualifies as stressful, believe me) will act differently. Some will respond positively and gain various enhancements to their abilities (never happened to me though, I usually become catatonic under stress), while others might gain afflictions hindering their capabilities.
Darkest Dungeon is unpredictable, spontaneous and random. Unlike other dungeon crawlers you can never get accustomed to the pace or the ferocity of the ensuing battles. The players will constantly find themselves off balance and struggling to keep their online avatars alive. That’s not to say that the game is ridiculously difficult. On the contrary, the element of surety one comes to associate with a turn based game is circumvented totally to make things more interesting and keep players on the edge.
The game’s AI and enemy design are diverse with hideous bosses having hellish powers thrown in for good measures. There’s an option of ‘hightailing’ it out of a tough confrontation but even that’s not guaranteed to work every time and costs all the rewards player might have accumulated in that particular mission.
The verdict? If dark, foreboding, merciless, random action and being in mortal danger (in game play of course) are your thing, then Darkest Dungeon is the game for you!