When Darkest Dungeon [official site] first hit Early Access last February, Alec was an instant fan and it landed on our best RPGs list a few months later. Because what’s not fun about a dungeon crawler with your squad falling to pieces as they accrue injuries and fears and illnesses and obsessions? But how has the experience changed Darkest Dungeon? What has it became? We can finally see, as today it emerges from the Early Access dungeon to properly launch.
Said our Adam a few months back in the big list o’ RPGs:
“It’d be an inventive and challenging roguelike even without its two major innovations: ongoing, reactive narration and an extended investigation into the psychological effects of repeatedly chucking adventurers into dungeons full of unspeakable horrors. The more you make them fight, down there in the dark, the more vices and phobias they develop, steadily becoming greater liabilities even as their skills improve. This is presuming you can keep them alive in the first place, of course – Dark Dungeon has a high staff turnover. Where the Bioware model of RPGs has you chat to team members at length to keep them happy, Darkest Dungeon is a thoughtful – and stressful – management game. There are no magic bullets to cure insanity – it’s ongoing and expensive work, and if things get too out of hand you simply need to let your heroes go. “
But Early Access is about changing and growing and enduring, and some of Darkest Dungeon’s changes seemed to go a bit too far. Forcing players to fight through the literal corpses of fallen foes was going too far Alec thought (though they were made optional). I’ve since heard a fair few people grumbling that developers Red Hook Studios were listening too much to players who wanted everything more difficult and miserable. Maybe the dissatisfied have simply lost their bottle.