Just regular dark: Darkest Dungeon getting shorter mode

Darkest Dungeon [official site] is the year’s best dungeon crawler, sez we, but I must confess I find it a bit of a grind at times. So, good news: developers Red Hook Studios have announced plans for a mode which won’t necessarily be easier but will cut the game’s length down from 80-ish hours to around 40. They’ve also revealed a smidgen more of its upcoming vampiric DLC, The Crimson Court, by showing off the grizzled vampire hunter who may well come after your party. Lovely! All this plus details on yesterday’s patch (controller support!) below.

The shorter ‘Radiant’ mode will be added in a future update. Here’s Red Hook to explain what Radiant is and why:

“One of the most common critiques of the game is that the significant length to completion (approximately 80+ hrs on average, though this varies widely) can lead to some players abandoning their campaigns, especially after a particularly nasty party-wipe with a valuable trinket loadout. Game length also exacerbates some of the grindier elements of the game’s design. While a portion of this endurance test is simply Darkest Dungeon as we intend it, we also would love for more players to be able to see the story through. So, we are planning an alternative game mode (RADIANT), which will have balance changes and rule tweaks aimed at bringing the completion time down to approximately 40 hours. Rest assured that even in this alternate campaign ruleset, we won’t be compromising on some of the core ideas that make DD what it is (e.g. permadeath, autosaving). However, we will flex here and there on some things and generally structure it so that a reasonable investment of time and effort can see things through to the deepest parts of the Ancestor’s trail. This also paves the way for additional modability, via exposing more options.”

That sounds good, that. I’m near the end of a Darkest Dungeon campaign myself and yes, have become a bit bored of grind. I’m not crushed and I’m not angry but I am sick of rebuilding my lineup and inventory after disasters. I like the difficulty and accept smitings from RNGesus but the grind is simply dull. I might give Radiant a go once I’m done with this (and once the update arrives).

Conversely, if you want it tougher, hey, Red Hook tease they’re planning to beef New Game+ mode up a bit in the future.

Darkest Dungeon’s first paid expansion, The Crimson Court, will arrive in early 2017 and Red Hook have recently revealed its take on vampire hunters. Rather than a traditional Van Helsing-y figure with a big hat, The Fanatic is a flipping furious godman ↑ with a honking great hammer. And no, he’s not necessarily on your side. Red Hook say:

“The Fanatic will mercilessly hunt parties whose members are infected with the Crimson Curse, burning them at the stake, or smithing them with righteous fury!”

Killscreen took a long look at The Fanatic recently, if you’re interested. I’m still really into the mosquito-ish look of its bloodsuckers.

That’s all in the future, though. In the present, we’ve just received a fairly big Darkest Dungeon update porting over features and tweaks from the recent console releases. This means DD now supports gamepads (PS4 icons for now, with Xbox to follow), has picked up three new trinkets, and has a few fixes and balance tweaks too. Check out the patch notes for all that.

I’m sorry to see the Highwayman’s Riposte powered down a little. I mean, sure, my funtime party lineup of three Riposte Highwaymen and one Jester was clearly cheesing it, but I did quite like having a team who could look gloriously skilled dancing and dodging between blows then utterly collapse when one big hit landed.


  1. Eraysor says:

    Jesus christ, it’s 80 hours long? I usually make it to about 10!

    • vahnn says:

      Holy smokes! I had to log in to reply and it automatically brought me back to reply instead of having to hit back twice and refresh the page and scroll down again (on my phone)!!!

      But yes, I’m right with you here. I usually get maybe 5 hours in and start repeating “are we there yet?!” every time I complete a dungeon. 80 hours! Even 40 hours!

    • Mezmorki says:

      Whow. Yeah, I like DD but not enough to spend 80-hours on a single campaign.

      Quite honestly, I feel like this game would benefit greatly from a MUCH shorter campaign where progression (good and bad) happens more quickly and that you’re encouraged to replay the game more frequently – with things that add unique twists or variety to each playthrough – rather than slog through one grind fest.

      I mean, I could almost see it being something that’s like playing 4-5 games of FTL back to back – and that being one complete “game.” I dunno…

  2. Seafoam says:

    Now this, is a good update! I might start playing this again.

  3. Lord Byte says:

    Yeah I got bored to death with endless grind, I did about all the bosses twice now and I just… burned out. It was getting a slog, especially since you regularly lose heroes who become too high level for you to continue using.

    • Jeremy says:

      This would be one of my gripes as well. I love the game and have put a ton of time into it, but there were so many times that in order to have the right party lineup to take on a boss, I actually had to hire a brand new team, and run them through multiple dungeons just to get my Vestal upgraded so she could join the original lineup. Some of that is fixed now with the ability to hire leveled heroes, but it would be nice if there was some leveling overlap, or even a way to stall a hero level for some other kind of penalty.

  4. Phinor says:

    This was one of my most anticipated games of the year but few hours into it I was already feeling like this would be a grind and not in a good way, in the mobile game kind of way. Every loss would just add hours to the game, hours with more of the same. The progress felt just so slow and because it was slow it felt like I was doing the same thing over and over again instead of seeing new things at least every once in a while.

    80 hours to 40 hours sounds really good if they can do that without compromises. I’d prefer much shorter than that even for this game. They got so many things right with this game…

    • Landiss says:

      Same story here. I bought it with high hopes, only to abandon in after several hours. I just don’t do grind in games.

      • Someoldguy says:

        Thankfully I saw the reviews before I bought, so I didn’t waste money on DD. I don’t mind long games. I play Paradox titles and Civ style games with relish, but they have to be telling a slightly different story each time. If a setback means you have to repeat exactly what you’ve already done for 10 hours to get back to where you were, only to risk RNG doing it to you again, I’m out. That’s not fun and it’s not clever.

        I’m particularly excited to see what Torment brings us with its promise of hand crafted crises and no filler. Even the great CRPgs tend to be bloated by a lot of low value combat. If Torment can set a trend that some future crpgs follow that would be great.

        • Turkey says:

          I think RNG-heavy games with permadeath work better if a single session can’t last more than a couple of hours. I don’t mind playing through the same levels of Spelunky or Downwell over and over again, cause it’s more like a fun timewaster than a big investment.

          • Hedgeclipper says:

            I’ll happily put hours into a Xenonaughts or a strategy game and I can understand why people would enjoy a Splunky or Downwell even if its not my thing. What I just don’t get is seeing games that list ‘grind’ as a feature.

        • Fishslap says:

          I don’t think the grind is quite as bad as people are making it out to be. Of course losing high level heroes stinks. But once you get the hamlet fully upgraded you earn more money pr dungeon because you can leave heirlooms behind. So paying for skills and equipment over again for new heroes isn’t as problematic as it is earlier in the game.
          There are also some town events that help a little. One lets you resurrect heroes from the graveyard for instance. That’s random too of course, and doesn’t happen often. But every little bit helps.

        • Ciclopotis says:

          All they had to do was allow players to save manually and reload saves. I could even be a “monthly” save, where you could only do it every 4 or 5 in-game weeks. Sounds better than options to turn off or adjust game mechanics, to me at least.

  5. Misaniovent says:

    This is a good call. If you’re an outstanding strategist and know how to run the game as quickly as possible, then you can already beat it in much less than 40 hours. If you’re like me, however, it’s going to take you a while.

  6. Imbecile says:

    Yep. Loved it but having to play through the bosses three times with only merciless grind the result of inevitably losing characters knocked me out mid way through. It wasn’t the difficulty as much as the length that put me off. May try again…

  7. BiscuitP1mp says:

    Make it 20 hours and I’ll think about coming back. Such a shame as there’s a lot to like about this game. 80 hours of grinding? I’d rather play through Witcher 3 again.

  8. jasta85 says:

    Yea, the grind made me drop the game, I love the concept and the gameplay but drawing out what is otherwise an amazing game far longer than it needed to be really killed my enthusiasm. That and the fact that you basically had to have a full roster of heroes in order to complete the game since the final are could not be done by the same heroes multiple times.

  9. Alberto says:

    I don’t see it as a grind at all.
    Maybe because I play mostly while commuting, and my sessions are limited and precious.

    I want the original experience, because I’m enjoying the loss of my adventurers just as much as the victories. Makes me play more carefully.

    The easy mode is always good for players with less time or passion for long games, though.

  10. zespri says:

    “A bit of a grind”? It’s the definition of grind at its worst!