Posts Tagged ‘Cosmic Horror’

Darkest Dungeon

February 8, 2021

I downloaded and started playing Darkest Dungeon recently and it was a rough adjustment. This game is designed to be difficult and scary. The game borrows heavily from cosmic horror and the darker corners of fantasy. You play as the heir of an ancestor’s Estate. Your Ancestor relates to you in writing that they accidentally unearthed a horrible monstrosity and numerous other horrors that now infest the area around the estate. You must operate from a nearby hamlet and hire adventurers to travel around the area to cleanse the place of monsters. There is no shortage of people stepping up to the plate to help you destroy evil and recover your family’s treasure (both material and sentimental).

Each mission allows four slots for adventurers to take along with you. Two things are very important to achieve success. First, you have to pay attention to party composition. There are 17 different classes who all have somewhat different yet overlapping roles in battle. Some are heroes and some are rogues just looking for fame and fortune. You have to balance damage, defense, healing, damage over time, and other abilities to get the most out of battle. Second, each character you pick has a preferred physical order in battle. Combat is only in two dimensions with characters on the right being closer to the threats and the people on the left being further away. Some characters are only able to perform certain abilities from a specific spot in the order.

The thing that was hardest for me to accept was that your characters are going to die. They are going to die a lot. The first time it happened, I got a knot in my stomach but soon it was something that was expected. I have gotten better at keeping it from happening but things can still go downhill really quick and somebody is just gone. They don’t just die. There is a vastly complex system of stress and physical ailments that can afflict your characters. Getting hit, traveling through darkness, missing attacks, and other things cause stress. If a character gets enough stress, they come to a breaking point. At that point, they can either gain a positive trait from it or a mental condition. If they receive enough damage and stress in battle, they could simply have a heart attack and die instantly. On top of that, they can catch all sorts of nasty diseases.

The key to keeping your crew intact enough to keep advancing is to provide them with plenty of support. When they come back stressed, crazy, and sick you have to take care of them. The tavern and the abbey are places where your crew can relax and drink or meditate away their stress. The sanitarium will try and cure their new mania and physical afflictions. Luckily, you have a whole group to choose from so you can stash some in town and have enough ladies ad gents to play with back in the dungeons.

The artwork is fantastic. It uses a comic book style with thick outlines, plenty of shadows, and grimy textures. Every hero looks troubled yet defiant. Every monster looks absolutely disgusting and threatening. The attack animations are really satisfying to let loose on your enemies. The dialogue and lore you uncover definitely puts you right in the middle of this horrible world and makes the game both stressful and fun.


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