The First Few is a series where we take raw unfiltered first impressions of the game and write down exactly what we think within the initial hours of it. Whereas a review covers the experience as a whole, The First Few focuses on the opening act of the title or more commonly called the “hook”.
A grim beginning:
From the first time you power on Darkest Dungeon, the world sweeps you in. A narrative is told detailing exactly what made this semi medieval / modern game a reality. And not to mention what exactly the darkest dungeon is for the most part. It’s hard not to feel prepped for battle after watching the intro and pressing start to name your save file. But just before that, a warning flashes on the screen.
“Darkest dungeon is about making the most of a bad situation. Quests will fail or must be abandoned. Heroes will Die. …”
It continues on like that and it got my blood PUMPING to continue.
An hour in:
Uhm, yeah… maybe I missed something early on but there are some really surprising mechanics to consider in this game. Your heroes are actually pretty horrible. It’s almost as if someone is forcing them to swing with their eyes closed because they can’t hit ANYTHING. Even if you plan for the best outcome per engagement, the random chance associated with almost every ability can force you to pray to a higher power before executing the command. I had a round where every heal of a 1 – 6HP healing move has given back just 1 HP. Almost like it’s weighted more towards the bad outcome. As a self proclaimed RPG master, this was definitely something I smirked at but soon found myself at the mercy of another system.
As your heroes do battle or lose battles / run away, they accumulate stress and “bad habits”. If the stress gets too high during a battle, your hero will literally lose his shit and do something that hurts the whole party. I had an arbalest “lose hope” and refused to act as his party needed his trusty arrow to kill the last enemy!! But I digress, some heroes can overcome stress and become even stronger. My cleric did this in one battle and I used her to mop up that one and continue to knock heads for the following three. Solo. It was surprising and delightful.
Most games don’t balance risk / reward this well but it seems Darkest Dungeon has found a way to accomplish this with exhilarating results.
The Final hour: So…. I had to restart haha. Little did I know, those little autosaves are used to paint you into a corner. I reached a point where I lost a battle followed by an adventure abandon and when I looked up, I was out of gold. Completely. Without food which helps your adventurers recover and a torch that keeps their spirits and some abilities at the highest possible, defeat was almost certain. So, I made a new save file ominously named”the light returns” and will be pushing ahead from here on out.
Darkest Dungeon is without a doubt exactly as they described it and can only get better. I can see the potential and hope they realize it in the higher level battles. I’m looking forward to finishing it. Even if it means trudging through dark corridors filled with the ghostly whispers of my former heroes. May they find respite in my future actions.
Control method: Keyboard and mouse (mostly mouse)
Time spent: 2 1/2 Hours
Difficulty: Couldn’t choose one.
Andron (or Ace as he likes to call himself) is the so called "Head Honcho" of Bombchu.com. He has a deep passion for video games primarily RPGs, Fighting or Adventure. When not gaming, he's furiously typing on his keyboard or coming up with new schemes.