The Darkest Dungeon is a game that revels in conflicted opinions Trust me, even as I write this I feel my frustration bubbling over remembering some of the more tragic moments in my playthrough. To that note, I also remember some of the glorious moments in my playthroughs. The conquering, 19k gold dark runs were glorious. The boss kills were supreme. We made it so far, only to come crashing down. Yet, why did we come crashing down? It wasn’t due to our own design, it was due to an imbalance in the game that is simply, and flatly, unfair from the start. Yes, the game has made strives to correct this, but, not really.
So, to start, I have to say that if you’re not a fan of RNG based games like XCOM, you’re going to absolutely hate this game. You will loathe every second of playing it and I absolutely one billion percent am telling you DO NOT PICK THIS GAME UP. Even if you are, I have to recommend strongly considering just how much you love that RNG mechanic, because if it’s not 70-80%, don’t pick this game up. There are so many reasons NOT to pick this game up, but also so many reasons to grab it if you’re curious. We’ll run you through some of both.
To start, the atmosphere is amazing. Grim and hopeless, you feel like you’re truly in a land corrupted by foolishness and monsters, it’s utterly eerie. Music is well crafted and lends to battles like peanut butter to jelly, meshing to make a delicious experience each time you enter combat. The combat is also innovative, using the placement system is fantastic, basically meaning that your troops can only use certain moves from certain positions in their lineup (1-4). Classes feel unique, and the stress mechanic adds an interesting challenge for veteran players looking for a challenge.
Now, we have to go to the bad. The RNG is ridiculous. Turned up to eleven, there’s hardly any opportunity for actual skill to take place. You can prepare, you can ready yourself, but ultimately, you’ll lose. You’ll get chain crits, you’ll get chain stun locks, or you’ll trigger a “low percentage enemy” four or five times throughout one playthrough. There’s no element of getting better or mastering the game because there is no game. There’s a system of dice rolls that will determine whether your troops will live or die and the game wears the facade of giving you a choice until that time comes.
It’s extremely frustrating to come to this conclusion after breaking your back to extend the extremely long (too long) campaign, and then attempt to replay it again. By the time you’ve gotten to the Darkest Dungeon, you’re probably already sick and frustrated with the game. At least in XCOM, you could offset the RNG with tactics and smart play, here, there’s no such opportunity. It’s very depressing that such a promising idea was executed so half-assed, as with more refinement it could’ve been a nearly perfect, if not completely perfect, dungeon crawler.
So, if you don’t mind the RNG, pick up the game. If you enjoy an unfair challenge, pick up the game. If you’re just a gamer who isn’t a complete masochist wanting to punish themselves for an hour or two, don’t pick this game up. The developers do not care about the broken systems, they enjoy them. They don’t mind player frustrations as long as there are players. The developers are pretty open with the lack of development that will be used toward their RNG systems, which are utterly broken.
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