Gaming - Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Shadow

The Defective Inspector investigates some of the IGF Indie Award nominees. Here is his Case File for Darkest Dungeon...

Let’s make something clear right off the bat, I love this game. This entire case file is merely a way of me explain how MUCH I love this game, why tell you this now? Simple! If all you needed was another person to approve the game, consider it done. At this very moment in time I genuinely believe I have found my current favourite indie game of 2016. So what is the game precisely? Simply put it’s a rogue like RPG dungeon crawler with a bad attitude and tough love parenting practices. Progressively you must work your way through hordes of stomach churning creatures with the intent of dipping into the Darkest Dungeon. Why do this? Fame? Women? Famous women? No! In fact it’s because some long lost relative/friend/letter writer contacted you hoping you’d lock up the pure evil he unleashed eons ago. Simple really…

It’s a well-received game by more than just me so I am going to take the game apart and uncover how something so dark and soul destroying can be so enjoyable and satisfying. Keeping with the IGF nominee trend there are 3 categories waiting to be stolen by this beauty; Excellence in Visual Art, Excellence in Audio and the granddaddy Seumas McNally Grand Prize.


Excellence in Visual Art

Darkest Dungeon did something 2D but detailed when they made the visual art of this game. Everything has been done via clever artistic layering and flash-like animation to keep it simple but dynamic. Obviously flash animation really depends on the original artistic pieces and in this game… Well I want to call it beautiful but even the ‘good guys’ in this are broody and foreboding. Even places designed to be a safe haven are gloomy. To avoid depression it’s done in such a manner that is less greyscale Marilyn Manson music video and more Façade of Reims Cathedral. Why link it? Well just look at it! 13th century architects made cathedrals, Red Hook Studios made Darkest Dungeon.


Excellence in Audio

Audio is one of the least appreciated features of any game when I review it, mainly because when it is done right it is almost completely disregarded. Imagine having a beautiful meal with your beautiful wife in your beautiful millionaire house. If the wrong music was playing everything would seem off, while if the music is perfect it enhances the moment without true acknowledgement. Ever tried eating steak while listening to Marilyn Manson? Unpleasant… Even the sound effects are the perfect complement to my quest into despair, it’s hard to talk about them because… Well they are sound. What do I look like a music graduate? One of the unsung heroes of this game is the narrator. That demon throated nihilist has both amused and berated me amplifying my experience of going through hell and… Well I’ve yet to come back… Everyone died… Wayne June told me so!


Seumas McNally Grand Prize

If you didn’t know the Seumas McNally Grand Prize is the mightiest of the IGF indie awards granted only to the crème de la crème. Obviously I’ve made my feelings clear earlier but there is a lot of gameplay to talk about. Premise wise it is rather simple; your party marches through monstrously theme areas of a decrepit lost town while completing various quests. They are usually simple enough, gather x amount of items or search x amount of rooms, sort of like a mix of dungeons and dragons and diablo. Going through even the simplest dungeon is no easy task, you must fight monsters, avoid traps and gamble on temptations. While all this is precariously balancing your fate there is also the element of light which must be considered as the level of light alters ambushing events, critical hit chances and even loot. But apparently that was not enough for Red Hook Studios, oh no you need to be punished more! On top of it all you must manage a stress metre for each character which is made worse by light levels, specific monster moves and sometimes because you looked at a book… A FRIGGIN' BOOK! Needless to say it’s a tricky game.

Outside of general dungeon crawling you must also manage your collective team of wayward warriors varying from mutant abominations to stoic crusaders. Remember that stress I told you about? Well if it breaks the person into a fearful frenzy you’ll need to get that fixed back in the Hamlet. How would you do that exactly? Insane asylums, brothels and flogging… LOTS of flogging. You can develop abilities, skills and manage the undesirable traits that have been picked up throughout mental torture that is dungeoneering. After enough missions you’ll get overly attached to one of your favourite characters. Mine was a bounty hunter… You can rename them you know… I called mine Boba Fett. He died…


I could go on about this game! I only started playing 3 days ago and I’ve already clocked 12 hours of game time, this is while living a normal working man’s life. I’ve yet to actually GO into the Darkest Dungeon and survive… which is great! Despite being struck back time and time again I find myself wanting to keep playing and playing which is the sign of good entertainment, always leave them wanting more. I wish you all the luck in the world Red Hook Studios, you deserve at least ONE award from the IGF folks… Unlike Marilyn Manson… He deserves NOTHING.

Images - Steam