In time, you will know the tragic extent of my failings, but in Darkest Dungeon 2 goodness me you'll hear about everyone's failings constantly. The horrific dungeon-crawling sequel entered early access yesterday, and my initial impression is that I'm surrounded by squabbling children. Managing the stress of your heroes is more important than ever, because if anyone is even mildly irked they will interrupt every fight to shout about how their squadmate is a kill-stealing dick. I'm this close to turning the stagecoach back around and embracing the impending apocalypse.Update: A patch has arrived with changes including reducing bickering. I did not expect this so quickly. Thanks, Red Hook! They still seem mighty chatty, mind.
Darkest Dungeon 2 sends unlikely squads of heroes out in a stagecoach to battle through legs of a journey towards oblivion, and it takes a toll on a person. As in the first game, our characters' mental states detoriorate in response to the things they see and the kickings they take, developing negative quirks and conditions. The sequel also introduces relationships between characters, tracking approval and disapproval along the way and appropriately dispensing buffs and debuffs. Sadly, everyone seems a right baby.
It feels like not a turn goes by without one party member getting narky with someone else, a dramatic pop-up interrupting the battle to debuff your party with shouting. Oh, why do you heal them and not me? Oh, what are you up to? Oh, why did you screw that up? Oh, I hate you! Even killing an enemy, which should be good news for everyone, leads to squabbling over kill-stealing. Friends, please, this is the apocalypse, not Counter-Strike.
The personal relationships dovetail with individual stress, and it can be far too easy to find a cascade of upset and anger which only subsides when someone gets so upset they suffer a huge amount of physical damage and reset their stress. I like to imagine they pummeled their legs with their fists like a toddler throwing a tantrum, forgetting they were holding knives, pistols, polearms, etc. The deadliest hissy fit.
See the bickering and tantrums for yourself in this battle I fought today:
"Early results are... encouraging!" says the narrator as my Grave Robber gets a kill with only my second action. In response, my Highwayman and Man-at-Arms immediately start squabbling. No! Shut up!
You can mitigate this a little. You can counteract stress and plan for rivalries, to some extent. I could've done better in this battle. But even when it's a positive cascade, the interruptions are still relentless. So many pop-ups! So much shouting! All of which makes me inclined to ignore mental states because I'm just sick of them, sick of the lot of them. You could argue this is thematically consistent with the mental pressures of an eldritch apocalypse, I suppose, but I'll still say it's too intrusive.
Darkest Dungeon 2 only just launched into early access, mind. A lot could change. We'll have a review at some point, not from me. Opinions? On a video game? From me? Seems unlikely.
You can get the game from the Epic Games Store for £24 and alright, that is ENOUGH. Frankly, Aubrey, I don't care who took your Game Boy. Either you settle down or I'm leaving you here with the pustulent dogs. Don't think I won't!