The Darkest Dungeon – When Fighting Horrors Turns You into a Monster

Despite the announcement of the second installment of Darkest Dungeon, I thought it will be a great time to review the game!


PLAYED ON: MSI GP73 Leopard 8RE 

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Return the Honor to Your Family

Released in 2016 by Red Hook Studios, Darkest Dungeon became known as a brutal and unforgiving game – for many previous reviewers, Darkest Dungeon is a clever mix of “Dark Souls” hardcore and turn-based strategy. Besides the grim atmosphere, Darkest Dungeon barely shares any similarities to Dark Souls. It is challenging, it is convoluted, and it will punish you without hesitation.
Being one of the last members of the family, you follow the directions of your relative’s letter, which leads you to a small hamlet. Striving for fame and knowledge, your relative opened a dark portal, unleashing nightmarish creatures into the world.

Being the head of a small hamlet, you are responsible to eradicate family’s past mistakes. You ought to hire mercenaries and adventurers to face these horrors. Many of them will not return, many will go insane or die.
Yet you are drawn in to try again… complete another quest… kill another abomination along the way… all to return the honorable name of your family.

Your Home
Your inherited estate, that was given to you by your ancestors. There you can upgrade the buildings and regroup your adventures to prepare for another dungeon run. Also, in the background you can see the dark figured house on a hill – a source of all corruption.

Righteous Intent Corrupted by Cold-Blooded Means

The scary realization is that Darkest Dungeons entangles you, slowly drawing you to commit atrocious actions in a belief that you are doing so for the greater good. The game slowly turns you into the same monsters which you fight throughout of its entirety.

Every crawl to the dungeon, you must collect a group of four who will fight the monsters, scout the locations, restore the shrines or recover important loot for the good of the hamlet. These adventurers can come from various backgrounds ranging from a valiant crusading knight to a cursed prisoner who can turn himself into a monster.

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My low-level group is facing the ambush from bloodsucker monsters. Without lights, they are likely to be getting seriously injured.

During those crawls, you are not only responsible for their physical health, but also their mental being. If your individuals within the group become too stressed out, they will most likely become afflicted with mental disease. Push their stress too far and they will have a heart attack which is most likely to be fatal.
One will think – “If I can manage their health and stress well, I should be a good guy?” – to which I say you are wrong. They return to the hamlet to forget or distract themselves from the horrors they have experienced, to come back to their human-self and find relief. They drink, gamble, have sex; or meditate, pray and whip themselves to
Later, you will send them to fight even more atrocious monsters, endangering their bodies and minds once again.
Your goals might seem righteous, but the ends do not justify the means. Every expedition against the darkness causes excessive violence, senseless cruelty and numerous deaths. Fighting your enemies with the same methods… what makes you different from them?


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Landing a huge crit against your foes is always a pleasure to behold… Is having such satisfaction becomes a first sign that I am becoming a monster?

Perhaps that every expedition enriches your hamlet and its people with trinkets and gold?

Maybe killing the monsters, you are slowly ridding the evil from the world?
Or that you are cleansing the once honorable name of your family?
All the effort you put into the game is driving you, the player deeper into the madness. With the more experienced adventurers, you will dare to send them to more dangerous and deeper dungeons – closer to insanity’s realm.

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My high-level party entering the most dangerous dungeon – The Darkest Dungeon. They are excellently prepared and ready to dive into the madness…
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…however not everyone will survive. Fighting the dungeon’s boss, my sneaky grave-robber died in a gruesome manner, and my abomination is about to die from a heart attack from the accumulated stress. At the end, Shuffling Horror was killed, but at a high cost.

A lot of them will die, but you will replace them soon enough. Their life is merely worth anything to you. Especially those with the least experience.
All the riches that you get, contribute towards strengthening your hamlet’s ability to prepare its adventurers for their doomed expeditions. You soon will realize that your actions are repeating after your ancestor, who got consumed by the darkness…

Choices and Consequences are Yours To Bear

In your blind pursuit to rid of monsters of the darkness and becoming one of them, you will face an astounding amount of choices.
You have freedom of selecting classes of your adventures and developing their quirks and traits. You can develop your estate for your mercenaries to upgrade their weapons, armor, and skills.

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It is also up to you how well you prepare your party before their expeditions. Without food, they will starve and get stressed. Without torches they will be easily surprised and be easier targets for monsters. A well-supplied party = a healthy party.

While all the classes have exact progression in terms of their stats, armor and weapon progression. Trinkets and quirks are only options to have an additional effect on your characters, otherwise, they are much the same.
Both trinkets and quirks can have positive and negative effects. While you can wear only up to two trinkets, the number of positive or negative quirks can both be up to a five. The sheer number of trinkets and traits in the game will leave you with many options of how to prepare your squad to fight on.

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Russel: A vestal, who loves exploring coves and ruins. But also a bloodthirsty, diurnal and ablutomaniac. I swear she is a lovely lady to know.

Yet, if your party dies you lose not only your characters but your trinkets too. The only way to retrieve them is to have a town event, where a high-level boss monster – Shrieker would appear. Slay him and you will retrieve your lost loot. Fail and you will lose it.

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Shrieker may be alone, but he is a serious foe. With a high resistance and dodge, it is incredibly difficult to land a hit on this monstrous bird.

As typical to turn-based strategies, one turns can literally break a party of hardened veteran monster slayers into whiny little bitches who will skip their turn by freaking out or will cause an accident by hurting themselves or others.

Stalwart Jester
In a rare event – like with this Jester – decide not to be whiny little bitch and become virtuous hero. This literally sways the tide of the battle back to your favor. Trinkets and quirks may increase the chance of virtue status.
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My concern over party’s health has made me to accept two polar opposite healers: a religious goodly vestal and dark power fueled occultists. They worked like a charm.

Such situations leave with two options: fight on or retreat. If choosing the latter, your party will also stress out to realizing that they are a bunch of losers. Then you send them to drink or whip themselves to get these vile thoughts off their heads. Then you repeat the process again and again, to get that amazing loot.

Final Thoughts

Darkest Dungeons has proven to be difficult and as similarly fun of a game that will leave furious over a dead party, yet you will return to play more of it. With the second installment announced, I would recommend anyone who likes difficult and somewhat of a risky game. Things such as permadeath, chance-based hits and game’s inclination to put you in unfavorable situations can frustrate many, but also add that extra edge to others.
Personally, there were many times when I left the game for days or weeks, only to come back to it and play it through for another three to four hours, which then spurs into a half-day marathon.
Overall Darkest Dungeons provides that sweet satisfaction of overcoming difficulty and with every success, you feel your powers growing to tackle a bigger horror.
Unless you wipe your party and you rage quit the game for another couple of days. But then you return again…

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If I have not succeeded to kill the boss, the two deaths of my best adventurers would have forced me to rage quit.

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