Darkest Dungeon

This game has a really gorgeous storybook aesthetic to it, Lovecraftian themes and a cool narration style that immediately sold me on it way back in the dark days of early early access. As it’s progressed toward release, though, it’s become apparent that underneath that cool appearance and neat sound design is also a pretty deep, rewarding and interesting game! So, that’s good.

Basically, you recruit a party of adventurers from random classes as they come to your ancestral home. You use those people (and you will go through them like tissue paper at first) to explore the ruins of that home, which is overrun by all kinds of awful eldritch horrors, tendrils clinging limpid to the ancient stone like the tenebrous tentacles of…. wait, sorry, what was I talking about?

Your adventurers will freak the hell out and get stressed by darkness and monsters and horrible things, and will eventually start to crack. You have to manage their stress levels, their quirks and paranoias and such that they pick up over the course of their adventures, and rotate through several different crews of people. You’ll go on quests, and by completing them, level up each of the game’s areas, making them harder and giving you access to longer quests. I thought the camping mechanic was a nice touch, as each class has both a customizable loadout of battle skills as well as a loadout of camp skills. When you camp, you get some neat dialogue between party members as you use skills on each other, helping to heal or decrease stress or other such things.

Positioning is key in the combat, as almost all attacks have positions they can and cannot be used from, as well as enemy positions they can and cannot hit. Enemies will sometimes use attacks that shuffle you around, and you can do the same to them, with sometimes-devastating effect. Enemies also leave corpses behind that can impede your positioning and targeting efforts, and some classes you can recruit (there are a WIDE variety) have skills for handling these corpses and disposing of them.

It’s an uphill climb, a hard battle of attrition against the inevitable victory of all-devouring darkness, and it’s a hell of a good time.

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