Darkest Dungeon 2 has launched in early access, inviting us all on a delightfully stressful wagon ride. The sequel to Red Hook Studios' dark roguelike moves away from expeditions in the gloomy Hamlet, and instead sends you on a journey through horrific lands to stop an apocalypse. The devs recently told me about why they're taking their gothic tale on the road, and it has something to do with wanting to emulate a rather uncomfortable road trip.
In Darkest Dungeon 2, you'll commit to a squad of heroes before venturing out in a stagecoach, stopping at inns, settlements, watchtowers and, of course, battles, as you go. Your progress each run goes towards unlocking abilities, items and more to help you in your next.
One of my favourite parts of DD2 so far is that it's a lot more character-focused than the original. You'll learn more about your Hellion, Highwayman and more as you travel. The story is about them, not some old guy with a thing for releasing eldritch monstrosities. As such, the relationships between these heroes is a pretty important aspect of the game too, which the developers tell me was partially inspired by a rather awkward roadtrip.
"After I graduated university, four of my friends took a road trip from Nova Scotia to Alaska, and two of them were together, and the other two were just pals," creative director Chris Bourassa said. "By the time they got to Alaska, the couple that had been together had broken up, cheated on each other - I think twice - with different configurations of the group.
"In the back of my mind, I thought: if we can just deliver on four entitled, kind of rotten people in the back of a wagon, like four kids in the back of a car, I feel like that could be a really great game. And you get to be the stressed out parent in that situation."
If you'd like to know where the rest of that conversation goes, I'll have a full interview with the Red Hook folks on the site soon. We also have a Darkest Dungeon 2 review on the way, so keep your eyes peeled.
Darkest Dungeon 2 is out in early access on the Epic Games Store right now, priced at £24. It'll stay in early access for about a year while the devs tweak the game according to player feedback, as well as add new biomes and more.