It’s not often I get addicted to a video game that doesn’t have the words Mortal Kombat anywhere in the title these days, but this Christmas weekend, I think I found it. It’s a little roguelike dungeon crawler known simply as Darkest Dungeon.
I first heard of it from Noah Antwiler himself, The Spoony One, when he decided to livestream it on his Livewire series. Honestly, I’m at a bit of an impasse when it comes to Livewire. I love Spoony, and while others complain the man is nearly dead silent during the stream most of the time, I almost appreciate it. I do like guys like Markiplier and Jacksepticeye, but the constant chatter that goes nowhere and might be a sign of A.D.D. and high-pitched screams of [EMOTION] get a little old in a hurry. It’s just too bad that there hasn’t been an actual review since May of last year.
I understand nothing lasts forever, and you can only do the same thing over and over before even YOU get tired of it and want to try something new. I appreciate the effort, and I understand nobody starts out good at new things. That being said, I miss the reviews. Even when I don’t agree with everything being said, Spoony always made it entertaining. Hell, even Livewire is fascinating in it’s own way. My only real complaint about the series is that I rarely have the time and/or patience for a two or three hour long stream.
Also, in the case of the Darkest Dungeon stream, the audio went out of sink with the video around the 1/3 mark or so, and kind of ruined the overall experience, but that aside, I enjoyed the playthrough, and it inspired me to pick up the game and try it for myself.
All I got to say is this: it’s a well designed game, but it will piss you off beyond belief. If absolutely nothing else, this game has reconnected me with my long dorment gamer rage. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had this much fun while getting pissed off at something. The main gimmick of Darkest Dungeon is the fact that, on top of exploring dungeons and fighting monsters, you also have to keep your “heroes” as mentally balanced as possible. Once you’ve completed an adventure, you send your heroes to town to drink, gamble, pray, buy a prostitute, get whipped (which oddly enough has nothing to do with the prostitute)… Or you can just stuff them in the sanitarium for a while, and remove certain afflictions.
If you’re good at the game, you’ll come back with broken heroes, but a lot of treasure, and the ability to afford all their stress relief as well as upgrade all your shit. If you suck, or if you hit a roadblock like I have, though, you’ll send four heroes in, and maybe one or two will survive long enough for you to abandone the quest halfway in, and need to relieve their stress. Unfortunately, you don’t have enough money for ANYTHING, because you need to save what little you got from the dungeon on provisions for the next dungeon. And before long, you find yourself in an endless loop, and realize five or six attempts in that your graveyard has about forty different dudes in it.
It’s at this point I stopped naming the characters. I’m even going out of my way to avoid using one or two until I’m one-hundred percent certain I can beat the mission with them. I got too attached to Dismal Dan the highway man and Hamburgers the jester. In fact, there might be a story in that.
Relax, I’m going to finish the Gael trilogy LONG before I start on that one.
Anyway, the point I was getting at is that once you hit a roadblock like I have, the game becomes less of a fun little romp into Lovecraft esque story telling and surprisingly fun turn-based combat (two concepts I rarely associate with each other), and it becomes more of what I’ve heard D&D players call a “meat grinder campaign.”
Clearly this term came out before MMORPGs became popular, and the term GRINDING was associated with repetitive tasks designed specifically to boost your stats. Meat grinder, in the context it was shared with me, tends to describe a campaign, tabletop or otherwise, that just shreds through your characters. By the time it’s all said and done, everybody playing has gone through a bare minimum of five character sheets, and the characters who managed to survive the adventure and claim glory are barely alive enough to enjoy it. D&D was never my game (my friends were more of a Shadow Run group), but believe me, I know what those are like. In the case of D&D, I’ve heard stories. I might even go as far as to say that, in a weird way, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is a bit of a meat grinder.
Darkest Dungeon is definitely a meat grinder, but honestly, it’s a FUN meat grinder. That sounds weird when I read it back, but I’m keeping in mind that I’m a guy who enjoys feeding documents to his paper shredder. So yeah, consider the source.
Seriously, though, this is one of those games where you will bitch, you will swear, and you will make the neighbors think a domestic disturbance might be taking place next door. However, you might actually find it to be an entertaining experience despite all that. A wise man once said: “There is no glory in a quest without peril.”
Darkest Dungeon is the kind of game that drives you insane with its gimmick, it’s randomly generated maps, its steap difficulty, and its unforgiving approach to dungeon crawlers. It’s the kind of game that pisses you off, makes it personal in the process… But somehow has me coming back for more. Am I a masochist? Nah. If my experience in the dating game is anything to go by, I’m at that point where logically, I should give up and get used to marking that particular aspect of my life as a failure, but somehow, I’m stubborn enough to say “fuck that” and go back into the melee anyway, knowing full well it’s never going to work out, and will only drive me fucking crazy with every failure in the process.
Do I recommend Darkest Dungeon? Sure, why not? Give it a look over for yourself.