The Weekend Hangover is Too Much Gaming's Monday rumination of the games or game we played over the weekend. Sometimes there is alcohol involved in the hangover we’re nursing, but most other times there’s just too much gaming.
It’s been years since I last played Darkest Dungeon and while I’ve missed its lovingly crafted world, I didn’t have the experience or skill back when I first gave it a go. But I knew that sooner or later, I had to face one of my worst gaming fears, losing a party of adventurers. If you haven’t delved into it, it’s a hard game, but once you’ve gone through a few expeditions, it gets easier.
For the uninitiated, Darkest Dungeon is a game by Red Hook Studios that focuses on you leading a party of adventurers to investigate the growing evil within the land. You start by taking over for your unfortunate ancestor who was driven into madness when he tried to search for the secret hidden under the family manor.
You manage expeditions of sell-swords and mercenaries in the attempt to restore The Hamlet, a small village which serves as your base of operations, as well as finding riches in ruins and caverns. The kicker here being that all your choices are permanent. Once an adventurer has succumbed to their wounds or even slipped away from sanity, there is little you can do but move forward.
It’s a game of meaningful choices: Do you retreat early to live to fight another day or push your luck to find more riches below? The game even has a graveyard for your fallen adventurers, as if to show you your mistakes and failings. It evokes the same sense of fatalism as XCOM2, where each decision is crucial and has consequences.
But while darkness is what you'll be faced with the most during your adventures, keeping a keen eye out for your adventurers, making sure they're well prepared and helping them lift their spirits through ale or a prayer will be what gets you through. Darkest Dungeon gives you enough dim hope for you to fight through odds that are stacked against you with careful planning and stress management.
The narrator's performance is also top notch. Wayne June bestows an eerie ambience to the game and does such a good job of setting the tone of the story. Each moment of despair is more devastating by his narration. While the game’s difficulty may bear a dark reputation, I'd still urge anyone to give it a try. I've thoroughly enjoyed this bleak Lovecraft-inspired world and you may find yourself enjoying these darkest of dungeons just as much as I do
Last February, Red Hook released a teaser trailer to announce a follow-up to Darkest Dungeons, and I can only hope it’s just as good, if not better.