Darkest Dungeon – psychological terror and madness of adventuring

Gare – Friday, February 14, 2014 12:00 AM
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What happens when four adventurers descend into the depths of a monster-infested dungeon? Many of these tales, no doubt, end with the heroes’ victory, who end up triumphing over an ancient evil of sorts and proceed to go home with their well-deserved loot and riches. The development team at Red Hook, however, is not quite content with the so-called “happily ever after”: in Darkest Dungeons, the adventurers under the player’s command will be exposed to hellish conditions and will have to face the maddening truth: it is both their physical and mental well-being that is at stake.

In a nutshell, Darkest Dungeon is primarily a stylish dark fantasy roguelike partially inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos: as such, our heroes will encounter not only the average undead or goblin during their ventures in the dark depths, but beings far more terrifying: ancient, eldritch horrors that defy logic and reason itself. Furthermore, it was also somewhat of a misnomer to label our characters as true heroes: they are experienced veterans, and yet, after being exposed to the unspeakable horrors of the dungeon for longer periods of time, their resolve might eventually break, or – if we are unlucky – they could potentially succumb to a variety of mental afflictions such as paranoia, unnatural sadism, and so on. This very much affects gameplay as well: a warrior, after witnessing a fair share of Lovecraftian horrors, might find solace in alcohol, leading to far more unpredictable and dangerous behavior, while someone else might fall into depression, thus affecting the morale of the rest of the group. In other words, the game aims to show the darker side of adventuring: a life filled with stress and hardship as opposed to glory and optimism.

Darkest Dungeon’s battle system will be primarily turn-based and very much tactical, says Red Hook. As such, I can only assume that the mental affliction system mentioned above will also play a part in providing a tough, challenging roguelike experience for hardcore fans of the genre. One thing is certain, though: upon reading through the Kickstarter page, I left the site highly intrigued. As it turns out, I was not alone in this: gamers’ reactions appear positive, and in only a day, Darkest Dungeon managed to successfully fund its development and still have some money left over. In conclusion, I do think Red Hook has hit upon a very promising idea that could turn into something quite magical if executed well.

Darkest Dungeon is planned for an early 2015 release for PC and Mac – the developers, however, haven’t fully ruled out the possibility of Linux, tablet and console versions, either.

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