I’ve leapt from the ledge again on Steam, purchasing another game that’s outside of my normal genre. I don't play rogue-like games, Don't Starve being my first ever. Dungeon crawlers aren’t my thing either. In fact, I don’t enjoy questing in confined dark spaces. I’m an open world kind of gal. I have a couple of my favorite Twitch streamers to blame. They made Darkest Dungeon look like a lot of fun. So much so, that I wanted to try it myself. And they were right, it’s worth the price of admission. *Smile*
You’re now the caretaker of an estate plagued by demons and other monstrosities of the netherworld. Someone dug too deep. Like the ill-fated Dwarves of Kahzad-dum, they unwittingly released these horrors and corrupted the estate. Now it’s up to you to recruit followers, train them and reclaim your legacy.
The game play is deceptively simple. You recruit followers and run dungeons. Except for the fact that your followers are flawed and are susceptible to the stress caused by combat. This susceptibility is manifested by a stacking stress debuff which debilitates the recruit into behaving negatively. This is not a desirable outcome in a game with permanent death.
Recruits can also suffer other psychological maladies that impact their skills and behavior. You relieve them of these disorders by sending them away for appropriate treatment. Perhaps that Knight suddenly beset with kleptomaniac tendencies needs a few days of flagellation in the Abbey. Or your Bard needs to recover his nerve by throwing back a few stiff ones at the Tavern. Based on the recruit’s ailments and the number of spaces you have available in the various recovery buildings, you have to balance their need for treatment versus having recruits to do missions with which earn you gold and other artifacts used to progress the storyline.
After assembling the right bodies for the tasks (quest/mission) at hand you can also bring along provisions such as food, torches, keys and shovels. Strategy is required for deciding how much to buy and of what because you lose whatever you don’t consume inside the dungeon. As a result, you’re always trying to figure out how much is “just enough” without wasting gold by taking too much or coming up short which could result in deaths – permanent ones.
You can always recruit more followers as well as dismiss others to make room for new ones. However, this comes at a cost. Newer recruits are at level 0 and have starter gear. Having to replace key higher level recruits with green ones will require a change in strategy and reinvestment in armor, weapons and skills training. So it’s not something you do lightly.
If you don’t like heavy RNG this might not be the game for you. The encounters are random and so are the outcomes of each turn in combat. You could take the same exact party into the same exact dungeon and have a completely different outcome. I’ve had some fights where a class misses on every single turn! Grrr. And others where it rains critical strikes for the NPCs.
The RNG in DD feels more like Hearthstone RNG compared to what I’ve encountered in combat in other games. The feast or famine of RNG being in your favor, can completely change the outcome of an encounter. I haven’t lost any recruits to it yet but there’s been a lot cringing and holding my breath!
Why this Rogue like Dungeon Crawler?
For me it has what I like about turn-based combat + min/maxing meta-game + an RPG-like story. I enjoy having an estate to manage by upgrading specific aspects according to my strategy. I like managing the recruits which feel like a shallower set of cards in a deck building game.
The combat animations and traversing through the dungeons remind me of a more mature version of Wizard101 which I really adored. Except that DD removes the wasted traveling around which got a little old to me as W101 progressed. Hopefully, I won’t get tired of the how the dungeons themselves look. There’s not much too them but the art style is very appealing.
The game is simple enough for anyone to hop right in and start running missions. While complicated enough that running them efficiently and without causalities takes it to a whole other level. Right now I’m on Week 5 and am trying to upgrade buildings, characters and their skills without having a solid plan or deep knowledge. It’s working so far. If not, I can always kick this saved estate to the curb and start a new game when I know more.