Darkest Dungeon is a challenging gothic roguelike turn-based RPG about the psychological stresses of adventuring. Recruit, train, and lead a team of flawed heroes against unimaginable horrors, stress, famine, disease, and the ever-encroaching dark. Can you keep your heroes together when all hope is lost?
User reviews: Very Positive (4,755 reviews)
Release Date: Feb 3, 2015

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Early Access Game

Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.

Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?

“Darkest Dungeon already has a ton of content (10 hero classes, 3 dungeon environments, dozens of monsters, 130+ items, and more ) and we want to give fans a chance to play the game now! This in turn gives us a chance to improve the game based upon player feedback and otherwise involve the community in development!”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“We plan to be in Early Access for approximately six months, which time we will use to add more dungeons, more character classes, and many new features. Our intent is to release the full version of the game sometime in the 2nd half of 2015.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“For the full release, we are planning to add more dungeon environments (one of which is the Darkest Dungeon), more character classes, story mode completion, additional monsters, items, quirks, narration, and dialogue. We also have reserved some time to add other new features and make changes based upon player feedback!”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“The current Early Access build is playable with 3 complete dungeon environments (Ruins, Weald, and Warrens), 10 character classes, 9 town building types, 5+ quest types, 30+ monsters, 130+ items, and more than 30 interactive dungeon objects. There is currently no end to the Campaign Mode in Early Access, so players can keep raising heroes and embarking on quests indefinitely. The full version of the game will have an end to the story.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“Final pricing for the game has not been determined, but the initial price will not be below Early Access list price.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“The community is encouraged to post feedback on the official forums: http://www.darkestdungeon.com/forums/. Also, purchasers are asked (but not required) to opt-in for anonymous gameplay data collection, which we use directly to collect play stats to assist with gameplay balancing.”
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Recommended By Curators

"[EARLY ACCESS] Proof that Early Access games can be bloody awesome. A dark, moody, punishing RPG that'll leave you devastated. Love it!"
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Recent updates View all (28)

May 28

FIENDS & FRENZY Update NOW LIVE - New Heroes, New Bosses, New Loot, and MORE!

Build Update Now #8891 (PC and Mac)

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light." --Dylan Thomas

HOTFIXES Added today (May 28)
Build 8891
  • Fixed issue where wrong hero/enemy was getting stunned when a stun occurred in conjunction with a displacement (move) attack. E.g. Dead Weight.
  • Removed guard/riposte buffs that were hanging around after combat ended
  • Fix to combat stalls/hangs
  • Increase HP of medium and large pew
  • Reduced PROT buffs from trinkets and quirks as most were overpowered
  • Fix to poptext queuing bugs resulting from crit Riposte

    Build 8881
  • Potential fix to battle stall crash
  • Fixed crash when loading quest types that don't exist; fixed crash when generating dungeon/region level 7 quests
  • Fixed bug where some curio-item interactions were not triggering
  • Fixed brigand cannon crash fix
  • Fixed bug that was causing stall penalty stress to happen in wrong situations
  • Fixed crash and bugs related to trinkets, trinket selling, trinket sorting
  • Slightly reduced self stress from getting knocked to Death's Door
  • Fixed Ancestor's Statue crash

Build 8855
New Features
  • New Hero Class! Man-At-Arms
  • New Hero Class! Arbalest
  • New Ruins Boss! Gibbering Prophet
  • New Warens Boss! Formless Flesh
  • New Weald Boss! Brigand Cannon
  • New Loot: The Ancestor’s Trinket set. Ultra-rare items once held by the Ancestor himself - be warned, some of these trinkets are only found in the pitch dark!
  • New Building! Ancestor's Statue: Click the statue to open the Ancestor's Memoirs - a record of all cutscenes and boss backstories!
  • Heart Attacks! Don’t let your heroes get too stressed. If your stress bar fills again past affliction...it’s over.
  • Sell your junk! In the Trinket Inventory, hold shift to see sell back value, shift+click to sell trinkets
  • Crit-heals! Heal, critically!
  • Tons of Party Names as created by Kickstarter and Humble backers!

UI Improvements
  • Added z-depth to the Hamlet, improved building menu interaction, revised all times of day
  • Graveyard: Added a background and new Caretaker pose; Tombstones change to reflect resolve level at time of death, UI improvements, scrollbar
  • Activity Log: UI improvements for easier 'at a glance' parsing of the activity log, scrollbars
  • Trinket inventory now supports sorting by class restriction and rarity, and a scrollbar
  • “Unequip all Trinkets” button for quick Trinket wiping
  • Updated art on remaining incomplete trinkets
  • Quest Select: Approved party names from player survey
  • Updated roster sorting buttons' colors to reduce visual noise
  • Class sort now sorts by preferred position
  • Added hotkey ( c ) to bring up/dismiss character panel
  • Manual torch snuffing for more control of lighting level (mouse over torch for instructions)
  • HP bar animation when healing for greater visual feedback
  • Additional map controls and logic (-/= or -/+ on numpad to control map zoom)
  • Map now follows the party, remembers its zoom setting after scouting
  • Clarified presentation of PROT (protection) in some places. PROT starts as a % which gets multiplied by the hero or monster’s Max HP. This gives a damage mitigation (armor points) number. For example, 20% PROT x 30 HP = 6 Protection pts. Each hit that lands will have 6 points absorbed before any damage gets through. Additional future work expected.
  • “Marked” no longer referred to as “tagged” in some tooltips
  • Improved various menus and icons in the game
  • New / unique trinket art for trinkets with missing art

Gameplay / Balancing Improvements
  • Darkness is now more deadly: reduced player crit bonus in low light, slightly increased chance of players being surprised in low light, increased stress damage in low light, slightly increased monster dmg in zero light, slightly reduced gold bonus in low light
  • Adjusted Dungeon / Region leveling to fit new boss plot quests
  • Max upgraded Roster size increased - this may be temporary!
  • Trinkets: Tuning of Trinket award rates and rarities
  • Trinkets: Balancing/redesign pass on many Trinkets
  • I’m stuffed! Limit added to Food consumption to reduce over-eating exploit
  • Plague Doctor: increased Blight Resistance
  • Bounty Hunter - Hook and Slice is now reworked as a rank 3 / 4 targeting bleed attack
  • Bounty Hunter - Slight nerf to Finish Him damage bonuses on the Stun Killer effect
  • Leper - Revenge removed ACC penalty and slightly reduced CRIT bonuses
  • Leper - Intimidate: reworked the skill to be a strong debuff skill with some damage, affects ranks 1/2 together
  • Reduced Crit-heal percentage
  • Reduced companion stress from Death’s Door
  • Slightly reduced average crit damage from monsters
  • All L3/L5 monsters have slightly increased HP which may make for slightly longer fights / increased value of buffs and debuffs.
  • Many size 2 monsters have more HP (Carrion Eater, Swinetaur, Unclean Giant)
  • Crone: now harder to hit, increased Crone’s Curse debuff and added extra target possibilities to her debuff attacks
  • Swinetaur can now do running attacks from ranks 2+ instead of 3+. Ole!
  • Monster Brains - improvements to default brains to make somewhat more deadly as monsters level up
  • Monster Brains - more monsters have their own brains (much more to come)
  • Original bosses (Necromancer, Hag, Swine Prince) now have nastier behaviors as they level up
  • “Heal Received” buff now on certain Skills and Trinkets
  • And probably a few secret things...

General Bug Fixes
  • Activity Log entry cutoff issue
  • Activity Log names update when heroes are renamed
  • Torch disabled during ambushes with tooltip explanation
  • Health bar showing up on second quest bug
  • Profile reposition bug on Main Menu
  • Raid Results UI layout fixes
  • Non check-marked room bug
  • Miscellaneous string edits
  • Fixed AOE “+” positioning
  • Fixed Plague Doctor camping pose
  • Non-loading screen narration interrupting loading screen bug
  • Swine Prince targeting fix
  • Battle camera bug, getting stuck at the end of a round
  • Removed background barks on Provisions screen
  • Blood splatter no longer appears on misses and dodges
  • Crash fix when death and Affliction check occur simultaneously by trap
  • Narration queuing fixes
  • Traps not appearing when spawned in a corridor previously visited
  • Prevent surprises from occurring in tiles previously scouted or visited
  • And more…!

113 comments Read more

April 14

Build Update #8116 (PC and Mac) - Hero Color Variants, Roster Sorting, and Party Combos!


  • Color Variations: All heroes have 4 different color palettes available for you to choose from! You can find the button to switch color palettes on the bottom left corner of the hero panel. We will be adding the matching heroic/afflicted poses in soon.
  • Roster Sorting: Sort by stress, resolve level, hero class and town activity.
  • Party Combo Names 1.0: Certain party combos will be named! When assembling your group, watch for the popup and see if you've uncovered a named combo. We're starting with only a few, but more combo names will be added as we continue development.

Trinket Tuning / Fixes
  • Increased most Trinket ACC, DODGE, STUN, BLIGHT, BLEED, MOVE, DISEASE, and DEBUFF buffs to make them more meaningful
  • Slightly decreased most Trinket negative effects to strengthen overall Trinket value
  • Overall tuning pass on many specific Trinkets, often to increase value
  • All HP healing buffs should now be working correctly

General Bug Fixes
  • Fixed bug where you could change the selected hero during a curio interaction act out
  • Fixed max HP buffs causing damage bars to show up
  • Stage Coach random hero barks will now only play when no other hero is barking
  • Fixed bug with taking objects with single click on the loot box
  • Added ability to drag and drop items from the loot box
  • Added ability to use items in the loot box
  • Updated indicators so the hero using the skill will be the heal target when they can heal or buff themselves
  • Tutorial dungeon name is now saved as Old Road
  • No longer able to select heroes in town activities for parties

85 comments Read more
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About This Game

Darkest Dungeon is a challenging gothic roguelike turn-based RPG about the psychological stresses of adventuring.

Recruit, train, and lead a team of flawed heroes through twisted forests, forgotten warrens, ruined crypts, and beyond. You'll battle not only unimaginable foes, but stress, famine, disease, and the ever-encroaching dark. Uncover strange mysteries, and pit the heroes against an array of fearsome monsters with an innovative strategic turn-based combat system.

  • The Affliction System – battle not only monsters, but stress! Contend with paranoia, masochism, fear, irrationality, and a host of gameplay-meaningful quirks!
  • Striking hand-drawn gothic crowquill art style
  • Innovative turn-based combat pits you against a host of diabolical monsters
  • Ten (and counting!) playable hero classes, including Plague Doctor, Hellion, and even the Leper!
  • Camp to heal wounds or deliver inspiring speeches.
  • Rest your weary, shell-shocked characters in town at the Tavern or the Abbey to keep their stress in check.
  • Classic CRPG and roguelike features, including meaningful permadeath, procedural dungeons, and incredible replay

Can you stem the tide of eldritch horrors erupting across your family’s ancestral estate?

Descend at your peril!

System Requirements

Mac OS X
    • OS: Windows 7+
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Open GL 3.2+ Compliant
    • Hard Drive: 900 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: 1080p, 16:9 recommended
    • OS: Windows 7+
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Open GL 3.2+ Compliant
    • Hard Drive: 900 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: 1080p, 16:9 recommended
    • OS: OSX 10.9+
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Open GL 3.2+ Compliant
    • Hard Drive: 900 MB available space
    • OS: OSX 10.9+
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Open GL 3.2+ Compliant
    • Hard Drive: 900 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: 1080p, 16:9 recommended
Helpful customer reviews
27 of 31 people (87%) found this review helpful
8 people found this review funny
6.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 22
Early Access Review
This game is the most frustrating, aggravating, infuriating game I have ever played. It is stacked against you. You will lose characters you spent time and gold building up, you will quit in anger, you will feel like the game will not allow you to win.

It's fantastic.

The whole point of the game is to see these psychological effects dungeon crawling and fighting terrors from beyond the grave would have on normal people, and it drags you down with it too. This game gets into your head and messes with you.

I'll be trying it again tomorrow.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
37 of 51 people (73%) found this review helpful
32 people found this review funny
36.7 hrs on record
Posted: May 12
Early Access Review
I had a favoite character once. I go visit him at the in game graveyard from time to time.

10/10 Would send him to his doom again.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
17 of 24 people (71%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
3.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 11
Early Access Review
Darkest Dungeon? More like Dankest Dungeon. This game involves high levels of fun, and well, more fun! I enjoy this game very very very much.
Do note that this game is in early access though, so the price will probably raise and the gameplay will get much better.

- Dungeon Crawler
- Many different moves
- Many different classes
- Difficulty (resides in skill)
- Unrelenting Fun
- Bosses
- Story Line
- Randomly generated maps

- Can be more challenging than most people could handle.
- The stress meter/levels go up very fast no matter what you try to do
- Permanant death is understandable, but when you lose a character you've built up for ages to a 1 HP Skellington... I meeeeaaaan c'mon
- Gold does not come easy, and can be spent very quickly due to highly priced... everything.
- Should be something more like $15, but $20 is fine.

That's it! I hope you do buy and enjoy the game for the price! If the game is ever on sale and you DON'T BUY IT, gurl you crazy.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
49 of 85 people (58%) found this review helpful
44 people found this review funny
11.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 7
Early Access Review
A cooking pot can dodge a sword strike.


This is what gaming has been missing.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
7 of 9 people (78%) found this review helpful
8.7 hrs on record
Posted: May 25
Early Access Review
As I look through my games library I see the hallowing name of an early access game. Already the stress seeps into my brain, memories of death, disease and hate flood into my mind. Countless characters lost in mere seconds, their lives dwindling like the countless torches used in these diabolical dungeons. Aside from all this I am compelled to come back for more, to feel the utmost joy of scoring a critical hit, the relief of surviving the horrors being thrown at me and the unforgettable feeling of triumph. This is a thoroughly fun game and I would suggest any person who wants their metal tested to play it. You will hate it, you will feel that it is unforgiving, you will lose your mind but amongst the remains of the dead you will find your valor and your courage and press onwards delving deeper into the hellish abyss we know as the darkest dungeon.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
6 of 8 people (75%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
14.1 hrs on record
Posted: May 6
Early Access Review
Really awesome game, one of the best menu-based combat systems out there. Darkest Dungeon has the most faithful H.P. Lovecraft style and language I have ever seen in a game, and the whole thing is pulled off really well. The art, writing, sound, music, all great. The intro will really get you pumped to start dungeoning! Overall, the system has super clever, engaging, and powerful design. The combat never feels dull or repetitive, which is honestly something I couldn't say about any single other menu-combat game out there. The grim and ancient evils of the Cthulhu mythos work phenomenally well with such a grim, difficult, and skill-testing roguelike. The game works as something akin to commentary on other dungeon crawls. What would actually happen to a party of adventurers putting themselves in ever more peril, venturing deeper and deeper into the seat of ancient demonic evils? Darkest Dungeon answers right before you start the game, "there can be no bravery, without madness." I have my complaints, but overall, it's a blast. I would reccomend if you want a tough rogue-like challenge limit yourself by only allowing youself to recruit so many adventurers per save file, like 8 or something.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
4 of 6 people (67%) found this review helpful
12.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 12
Early Access Review
This game is very fun, features a cool art style, and a dark souls-like experience, featuring permadeath and learning to manage stress, as well as your own health.

Do you continue venturing forward, despite all adversity? Do you decide to end the mission early and count your losses? You will be asking these questions a lot as you play.

You can also use items you recover from dungeons to upgrade and improve your town, which all is necessary to unlock more features, or create new weapons and armor, and better stress relief with the church and the tavern.

Overall, I find this game very fun, difficult, and a great story. The voice narrator is amazing and really sells the game as well!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
6 of 10 people (60%) found this review helpful
31.5 hrs on record
Posted: May 12
Early Access Review
One of the few games that are worth buying in early-access. Can't wait for more content. Delightfully unforgiving.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
45.7 hrs on record
Posted: May 28
Early Access Review
Sick game. Really enjoy the well done turn based combat and team building aspect of the game. Wish you didnt Nurf my berserker but it is what it is. Great game for fartin around.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
67.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
Early Access Review
This is one of those classic games that one can easily sit down and learn how to play, but allows one to play indefinately with joy. Its both challenging and engrossing. Love it.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
26.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 29
Early Access Review
Putin approves.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
3.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 19
Early Access Review
For an Early Access game, Darkest Dungeon is incredibly well polished. It has an excellent introduction and narration and is very atmospheric. Some of the UI could use improvements, and it has the potential to turn into a grind fest, but over all I am very impressed.

The basic premise is that you are traveling to reclaim your family manner which is overrun by monsters after your relative opened a gate to hell. As you travel through the randomly generated maps you need to manage your party's health, sanity, light and equipment.

As your party succumbs to the darkness they may develop various quirks which means you may not even be able to trust your own team. You will die. You will die A LOT. Its OK, there are always more adventurer’s waiting.

Mechanically the game is simple, walk from room to room dealing with traps, looting objects, and fighting. Combat is turn based and you have a handful of actions to chose from. These actions depend on where you are located in the party line as well as where your opponents are making it fairly dynamic. Also, you can retreat at any time, but it comes with a price - stress. Too much stress can make your character’s unplayable until they take time and money to recover in town.

I look forward to seeing what comes next, especially if they maintain this level of quality.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
27.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
Early Access Review
Addictive tactical combat. Great visuals and soundscapes. Levelling up your heroes is compelling. Will re-play once the full version is released.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 4 people (50%) found this review helpful
8.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 20
Early Access Review
Gameplay is hard but fun. Art style is unique and awesome. voice work is phenomenal.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
12.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 28
Early Access Review
A very unique dungeon crawler
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
3 of 6 people (50%) found this review helpful
87.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 8
Early Access Review
Fantastic, fun, dungeon crawling, turn-based strategy game with gorgeous art and excellent writing.

An introvert's D&D without all those pesky other people. Build a party, delve into a dungeon, hope to come out in one piece on the other side. This game is fun and polished even in early access and will only get better with time.

My only wish it that it were a bit more dangerous. It hasn't actually felt like my heroes could die since about week 3. Apart from 2 early deaths due to my own risk taking and general idiocy I haven't had a hero die in 100 weeks of gameplay, even with YOLO dark runs and pretty extreme risk taking.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
555 of 607 people (91%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
23.3 hrs on record
Posted: February 5
Early Access Review
This is a living review, I will continue to update it as my experience evolves; see comments for additional updates.

TL; DR Overall, the game is fun and I can foresee getting many hours of solid gameplay out of it which is why I have recommended it. Be prepared to experience the consensus "cons"; which can be blisteringly frustrating in the early game. If you think those things will be enough to trump the enjoyment you would get from the things the game does well, do not purchase it.

The most common criticisms of Darkest Dugeon are the inability to turn off combat animations, combat speed, dialogue animations causing you to be unable to interact with anything until completed, and RNG. All of these things exist in varying degrees.

Combat animations + dialogue have the potential to draw combat out for far too long. The animations themselves, while cool, can start to feel really repetitive if you're having a bad stroke of RNG (missing a lot, despite a high chance to hit). They also are very herky-jerky (there's a zoom during an animation) that leaves me feeling like I'm rocking on a boat. If I play on an empty stomach, sometimes I feel slightly nauseous.

The chat bubbles also leave something to be desired. They become repetitive very quickly and interupt the flow of exploration and combat. I suspect they were included to create atmosphere, but I find they actually detract from it because of how herky-jerky they become - this causes your immersion to be regularly broken up/halted. This is typically only an issue if your party is afflicted by negative quirks or your torchlight is dimming. Characters become more talkative when things are going poorly.

RNG. I originally wrote that I didn't find this particularly irritating and chalked up the experience to most people just being unfamiliar with game mechanics (IE Chance to Hit, Resistances, etc). I've chosen to recant that. RNG is crippling, but only in the early game. Darkest Dungeon's biggest problem, in my opinion, is the early vs late game balance. Early on, resources are tight. You don't have a ton of gold that can afford you to recoup your losses if you have to abandon a mission. You don't have a town that has been upgraded to reduce the cost of removing negative quirks/high stress levels. Due to this, you often feel overwhelmed - particularly if you have a bad stroke of RNG (IE. You get crit multiple times early in a dungeon, multiple characters have very high stress levels from it, etc). Later in the game, once you've upgraded your town some, prices aren't has crippling (maybe 750-1000 gold instead of 1500) AND you're getting more money from missions. In addition, you might be able to remove quirks from 2 characters at a time, instead of just one. As the game progresses, you almost start to feel overpowered - not in the traditional sense, as things can still go terribly wrong, but when compared to your early experience where EVERY thing feels stressful.

Getting crit increases stress by 15-20. Landing a crit reduces stress by 5-10. Therein lies many of the inherent problems in every facet of this game. When something goes wrong it is always nearly TWICE as punishing as the beneficial aspect of something going right.

My personal biggest qualm has to be the lack of an easy way to discern combat attack order. There exists a "SPD" stat, which I assume is speed and I also assume determines attack order. Rifling through each monsters' stat in an effort to figure out what will be attacking when is not an intuitive, efficient, or easy system. It also feels like the order isn't static, as the encounter progresses the same monster isn't always attacking in the same spot (or so it seems - I could be incorrect in this claim). The reason this is problematic is because it forces you to pay astronomically close attention/have an excellent memory of when something attacked to determine whether you should disable (stun) or gamble for a kill (powerful regular attack). This becomes further complicated when trying to "combo" attacks. IE. Stun with a character so another class that has an attack with a dmg increase against stunned targets can eliminate it. Since combat positioning matters, if I stun, then my character gets pushed into a different position, and the new position renders me unable to use my bonus dmg against stunned targets attack, I have essentially wasted that initial action.

Beyond some of these troubling mechanics, most of which I foresee being tweaked to be less punishing/better tuned, the game has some very neat features. Stress, while annoying to some, was a big selling point for me. I would like to see stress become more balanced around fight/flight. What I mean by that is, currently, it feels like the vast majority of stress mechanics are negative. Indeed, I would say upwards of 80% of the time my characters have become stressed they have suffered negative mechanics as opposed to positive. I would like to see this number brought closer to 50/50. Not to get too invested in "real life" comparisons, since this game is hardly reminscent of "real life", but stress serves a pretty strong evolutionary purpose and definitely is not something that is 80% negative (even if it has been shown to reduce your life span). The same could be said of what happens when you "gamble" on opening chests/sarcophagus. It feels, more often than not, like this is a greater risk than potential reward.

Combat positioning and class synergy are very cool. Unfortunately, I don't think they are explained in a proficient way for new players which leaves one floundering in the dark for quite some time. This type of trial and error experience feels a little bit exhausting. Perhaps the addition of a tutorial or "practice" mode that has some examples of "combos" would be helpful. IE. a guide that says, "Try using class X ability Y following using class Z ability T".

The town is also neat. The availability of upgrades makes it highly customizable and meaningful. Much like the class system and synergy, though, it can feel quite confusing and overwhelming. Resources are definitely finite early on and with so many different options and features to upgrade, I have often felt at a bit of a loss. Discerning what is important in the early game versus what can be ignored until resources start to become plentiful in the late game is extremely difficult.

I've heard some argue that upgrading character abilities and weapons/armor doesn't feel worth it for the cost. I whole-heartedly disagree. Upgrades are ABSOLUTELY worth it. Sure, your damage doesn't go up astronomically, but your accuracy does. Accuracy, to me, is probably the most important stat. Also, they aren't that pricey as long as you invest in reducing cost - something that I think people aren't doing.

Class balance could be improved. There are a few classes that just feel worthless when compared to their counterparts. I think both Plague Doctor and Leper are worthless. Jester, other than people abusing their "stress heal" mechanic, leaves a lot to be desired as well.

Ultimately, this game is really about two phases of gameplay. Early game is soul-crushing and you feel like a victim to every mechanic. When I read negative reviews, I can see why people are frustrated. Early game can be THAT frustrating. Frustrating to the point of wanting to smash your keyboard against the wall. Most of these things are resolved by mid-late game, though. If you survive early game, Darkest Dungeon opens up and becomes incredibly fun. My hope is we will see some tuning regarding early versus late game. I suspect we will.

If you don't think early game will be too frustrating or are willing to soldier through that frustration, pick up Darkest Dungeon. The game is done remarkably well and, despite being in an older genre, has a lot of innovation which makes it stand out from its peers.
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638 of 716 people (89%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
100.3 hrs on record
Posted: February 3
Early Access Review
Full disclosure: review copy provided by developer/publisher!

“What, you'd like to know my story? There's not much to tell, I'm sorry to say. I came here, same reason as you – for glory, for gold. And not one man can fault me with cupidity, no. I tempted good friends, capable friends, spewing that very promise, HA, and don't let them tell you, CONVINCE YOU, that their hands were forced. They came willingly, yes.

“Like pigs to the slaughter.

“The first month was uneventful at the estate. Harried heroes came and went, but my friends and I were heartier fare. We spent what treasures we pilfered on libation, often causing a ruckus in the tavern. New adventurers would swagger in, ♥♥♥♥♥ure, and we'd put them right in place. We'd usually frighten the greener ones off... the rest would perish, often crying out – for God, for their mother, for the sweet release of death. Fools.

“My friends and I, we don't adventure anymore. We tend the estate, greet would-be heroes such as yourself, to give fair warning. All your skills, all your learning, all your experiences past mean nothing here. You will die, likely alone and raving in the dark. Death is all that you can count on. Death is all you will know.

“What, my necklace? No, these are no ordinary charms, child. These are my friends, you see. I carry them with me still, even after death. They quiet my mind, when the dark comes, you see. It was the least I could do; their bodies gave me sustenance – their bodies give me sustenance, HA, and don't let them tell you, CONVINCE YOU, that their hands were forced. They came willingly, yes.

“And so will you.”

Darkest Dungeon is an RPG turn-based roguelite dungeon crawler – and yes, I've written this phrase so much it autocorrects genres without prompting. I've named my dog “RPG turn-based roguelite dungeon crawler” and he hates me. But I digress. Story is that your wealthy relative has died, not before sending you a letter, urging you to come to the ancestral ♥♥♥♥ hole to spruce things up and purge the ancient, unknowable evil that lurks, broods, and taints up the place like an unruly teenager. The game starts off with a neat little tutorial, explaining some of the nuances of gameplay: tactical placement of characters, attacks, effects, etc. These are all standards we've come to know and love in the genre, nothing out of the ordinary. But there are a few twists that set Darkest Dungeon apart.

When you set out on a journey you'll select your adventurers, and there are a lot to choose from. Some are tanks, some are roguish, some are healers, and some suck (stupid damn plague doctor I HATE YOU SO MUCH). You can select your character order as well, and right clicking on a portrait provides insight into their ideal placement. Different heroes provide different bonuses, like scouting ahead to spot traps and treasure. After you pick your team you'll need provisions, a risk and reward proposition... are you detecting a pattern? You'll need food for characters, particularly on the longer treks (there's even a camping/survival mechanic to replenish health and stress for such undertakings), or they're liable to starve. You'll need torches to light the way and keep characters from intermittently having nervous breakdowns. And you'll need various health items to keep bleed and blight effects in check. Does this sound like a lot to juggle? Because I am not doing the death-defying, chainsaw spinning, greased up, foot juggling spectacle justice, I assure you. There aren't enough words. After your quest these provisions don't carry on to the next journey, unfortunately. So do you risk spending too much, or spending too little? Both carry consequence.

But there's more.

Every hero and heroine has a stress bar beneath their health. With each enemy encounter, trap, and the act of WALKING, the adventurers will accrue stress. This is countered by killing blows, critical hits, and some support abilities. Inevitably someone will reach their breaking point after one too many knock knock jokes and one of two things will happen: they'll rally courageously, lowering their stress and everyone elses, or become afflicted. This affliction, whether it be cowardice, masochism, irrationality (and more!), means you won't always be in control of that hero, often to their detriment and the team's.

After you clear (or flee) a dungeon you return to the estate, a hub where your weary adventurers can get some much needed R&R. Mirroring the core gameplay, your decisions in the hub world are deeply tactical. Some characters are religious, and will only be willing to visit the abbey to relieve stress. Others will happily drink and gamble their sorrows away. And as less savory quirks develop (buffs and debuffs gained through adventuring and R&R, separate from affliction), you can send them to the sanitarium, where presumably all the fun is. All of this is costly in time and money, and you'll have to manage carefully. Fresh heroes and heroines are wheeled into town after every adventure, but they are newbly in nature. With each subsequent successful quest, estate properties unlock, providing you the ability to upgrade abilities, armor and weapons, survivor traits, and more (you can upgrade your town's buildings to improve their respective output). Expect to spend a lot of booty.

After enough victories more procedural dungeon locales unlock, bosses become available to fight, and the game gets tougher. I'm not joking when I suggest that YOU, the player, will experience every quirk, affliction, and solace your characters do. I was paranoid. I was stalwart. I was masochistic. I was even hagiophobic (the last time a game introduced me to such cool vocabulary was Eternal Darkness). That is an accomplishment. And it was all worth it, every second of crawling, creeping madness, to play this game.

It's only February 2015 and this will easily be a contender for GOTY, of that I have no doubt. The art direction is spectacular; beautiful and visceral at the same time, like an old, dusty, medieval anatomy book. The turn-based attacks are so cool, so varied. The enemies are bizarre, terrifying, and menacing. The heroes and heroines are flawed, heroic, almost real. The dungeon crawling is rewarding, the victories are often bittersweet, and the office cooler conversation potential of this game is off the charts with so many variables. But the narration, sweet tap dancing Allfather, Allmother, and every Allrelative in between, the narration is amazing. It's omnipresent, in the hub and dungeons, raising hopes and dashing them in dulcet tones. It's like Vincent Price and Paul Frees' (Disney's Haunted Mansion) voices got married and Cthulhu officiated.

I have a few teeny, tiny criticisms. The game can be unrelentingly punishing at times, unfair even. And while there is no fail state per se, things can get so bad that you'll want to just restart. I'd like the option to play a game in which I can save. XCOM has a save mode AND an Ironman mode, and I'd prefer that option here as well. There are also little technical glitches here and there, grammatical and spelling errors occasionally. That's about it. That's the sum of my complaints. I'd like to be able to save and there are a few little errors. And this title is in Early Access, which means we can anticipate lots of fine tuning and HOPEFULLY some cool additions as well. But what's already here, what's already been done, is spectacular.

It would be a grave crime against the Elder Gods to pass this up, and madness will surely follow.
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343 of 372 people (92%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
25.6 hrs on record
Posted: February 6
Early Access Review
Always always always bring a shovel!

But seriously, this is a really fun game for a multitude of reasons:
1. A dark, mysterious atmostphere
2. Challenging mechanics
3. Many new, fresh ideas that are well implemented
4. Great art style
5. Feeds your inner masochist without being unfair

Among the new ideas is a sanity meter, a need for various resources while adventuring (and not adventuring), interesting class roles, quirks (like perks only not always good), a town to rebuild, and no save scumming.

In so many ways does this game remind me of XCOM: Enemy Unknown because of squad based combat, permadeath, occasional panic, and how attached you get to a soldier before he gets one shotted mid combat.

This game is all about sacrafice and what you're willing to give away, who you're willing to let die, and how much time you're willing to put into achieving your ultimate goal.

Some protips:
1. Try to fail missions as unoften as possible. The money you get from them is paramount to your future survival.
2. Experienced soldiers are difficult (and expensive) to raise; protect their continued existance by bringing along a little extra food, bandages, etc.
3. Don't waste money on crappy trinkets. A majority of them are double-edged anyways.
4. Wilber is very dangerous dispite his size. I am ashamed to admit how many of my soldiers he has killed by squealing.
5. Occultists are very good healers. Where some healers will heal you for 1 to 3, an occultist can sometimes heal you for as much as 10!
6. I'm pretty sure you cannot die if you do not have 0 health. Poison and bleeding are very dangerous in these situations.
7. Panic is very dangerous and expensive. Avoid it by ending combat as quickly as possible and leaving dungeons as soon as you accomplish the mission.
8. Take as many heroes as you can. You have to explore every week, so only having a handful of adventurers can really mess you up if someone gets really stressed, which is a really rare occurance (sarcasm) ;).

Good luck!

Edit: May make a guide, perhaps, leave tips in the comments if you want!
Edit 2: This game isn't as much about success as it is about survival. Do not expect to get rich!
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480 of 544 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
56.0 hrs on record
Posted: February 5
Early Access Review
This is a story about throwing redshirts into a dungeon until a couple come crawling out, barely alive with a whole bunch of loot and PTSD, only to be boozed up and thrown back in.

Highly recommended.
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