Darkest Dungeon Preview - That Escalated Quickly

Darkest Dungeon Preview - That Escalated Quickly

Red Hook Studios' Darkest Dungeon will suck you into its bleak world even as it wipes out entire adventuring parties.

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I saw a let's play on youtube. The esthetics are stylish and gorgeous in a thick-lined exagerated way. Certainly adds to the oppressive atmosphere. The gameplay looks fun and involved with lots of different layers. This is on my wishlist for when it comes out for real, and I'm even tempted by the early access for the first time ever.

Stress and morale played a role in DnD and other PnP games. I think the first Ultimas and earlier games that cloned the DnD rules had this mechanic too, but it got streamlined in later games along with a lot of other things. Now I don't mind losing some of the chaff, but stress - yours or your enemy's - is something I wish more modern games could address. Not to the extent of Darkest Dungeon, however. As mentioned in the article, and from what I saw on teh Let's Play, you spend more time babying your minions' stress bars than you do their health, and it takes virtually nothing for the little dears to have a nervous breakdown [Disclaimer: If a skeleton popped up and poked me with a sword, I would go off like a frag grenade, but I am not a paid adventurer.]

But I was thinking about this in DA:I just a few months ago: I slaugther four bandits in a matter of seconds, and the last two are battering away at Cass's shield with their puny swords and still think they have a chance...Keep that mechanic for Templars and other fanatics, but have a 'morale' meter to your regular mobs that will cause them to switch from mob to the same behaviour as the rams when it ticks over. Really can't be that hard...

Sounds interesting, like a good Warhammer Fantasy CRPG. I've been burned in early access, so polish or no I'm probably going to hold off until it's at least an established beta on track to be finished, especially if JennAnge's comments about the overly touchy morale are true.

Thunderous Cacophony:
Sounds interesting, like a good Warhammer Fantasy CRPG. I've been burned in early access, so polish or no I'm probably going to hold off until it's at least an established beta on track to be finished, especially if JennAnge's comments about the overly touchy morale are true.

By overly touchy, I didn't mean a mechanical flaw or bug that will be corrected when published; that's how it's designed. On the Let's Play - I was looking at it over someone's shoulder, I didn't see who created it or I'd link it - one of the burly warrior types lasted three melees and something like two dozen hits and was already maxing out his stress bar. Fortunately for the player, he broke down in the GOOD way, gaining focus and lowering everybody else's blood pressure, rather than running away wimpering. From my bird's eye view, that seemed a liiiiittle too sensitive, but I wasn't actually playing and really judging how many hits he was taking. I wouldn't send that lot through Dragon Age Origin's Deep Roads, though, that's a fact.

Not getting anything in Early Access is a safe and sound policy in my books, mind you...

JennAnge:

Thunderous Cacophony:
Sounds interesting, like a good Warhammer Fantasy CRPG. I've been burned in early access, so polish or no I'm probably going to hold off until it's at least an established beta on track to be finished, especially if JennAnge's comments about the overly touchy morale are true.

By overly touchy, I didn't mean a mechanical flaw or bug that will be corrected when published; that's how it's designed. On the Let's Play - I was looking at it over someone's shoulder, I didn't see who created it or I'd link it - one of the burly warrior types lasted three melees and something like two dozen hits and was already maxing out his stress bar. Fortunately for the player, he broke down in the GOOD way, gaining focus and lowering everybody else's blood pressure, rather than running away wimpering. From my bird's eye view, that seemed a liiiiittle too sensitive, but I wasn't actually playing and really judging how many hits he was taking. I wouldn't send that lot through Dragon Age Origin's Deep Roads, though, that's a fact.

Not getting anything in Early Access is a safe and sound policy in my books, mind you...

Ah. I didn't know if you meant that it needed to be rebalanced to allow characters to have a decent lifespan, rather than falling apart too quickly. It's an interesting idea, but it's one that has to hit the balance just right, as games like State of Decay and This War of Mine have shown, to strike the balance between "thematically appropriate" and "actually fun to play".

The game does look good, but I do think the 'stress' gained could be toned back a little bit. Its a little over the top atm. Can walk out of one fight with barely a scratch and yet be more stressed than a sack full of cats, based off of what I've seen from a couple Lets Plays. Unless maybe there are ways to further reduce it easier later in the game.

Disclaimer:This writer is a backer of the Darkest Dungeon Kickstarter campaign. This preview is based on the provided backer reward code.

Christ, how is this even an 'ethics' disclosure?

Disclosure: this person paid money to the company that made the game.

Dis-polosion: Just like every time we have to buy a copy of the game because the developers didn't give us a free reviewer's copy. Nothing destroys objectivity like buying something! CAPITALISM, HO!

Maximum disclosure: when they do give us free games, this is an example of even more bribery.

What a brave new world of ethics we live in! Truly, journalism is fixed forever!

Seriously, you guys. How about getting your pants in a tizzy about ethical issues that actually matter?

10/10, was totally worth doxxing Zoe Quinn over

Thunderous Cacophony:
Ah. I didn't know if you meant that it needed to be rebalanced to allow characters to have a decent lifespan, rather than falling apart too quickly. It's an interesting idea, but it's one that has to hit the balance just right, as games like State of Decay and This War of Mine have shown, to strike the balance between "thematically appropriate" and "actually fun to play".

Hear hear. I do hope they might tone it down a bit during the beta stage, if they get consumer feedback on it. If not, well, I'm still interested in the game and will just treat it like another health bar to manage. Stores to pack for medical emergencies: bandages, tourniquet material, splints, hand puppets, suture kit, teddy bears, bone saw and valium.

This game is the definition of "Get REKT son".

I simply love it and it's very addictive even though RNG is in most of the cases in not in your favor. The grim darkness, the amazing narrator's voice and his vocabulary and the turn based RPG roguelike combat...this is a sleeper hit this year in my opinion.

The fact that the game is in early access and it feels complete. Aside from a few annoying crashes the game has been solid throughout my few hours of game time with it.

It takes a while to get accustomed to what everything does and I had to rely on some tips and tricks to help me along but once you figure them out it will become way easier..still the RNG can screw you over at any given moment that can lead to your death...but ehh what can you do.

Under_your_bed:
snip

I strongly disagree with your post. It's one thing if the Escapist bought copies, another if the publisher gave them copies, and a third issue entirely if Marshall gave money to the Kickstarter.

1) Escapist Bought Copies: Someone up the line at the Escapist made a judgement call that reviewing this game would make them money through ad revenue, enough to cover the cost of the game and paying the writer. That's totally a business decision on the part of the Escapist.

2) Publisher Gave Them Copies: This is a pretty good way to get your game reviewed, as it makes it much easier for the Escapist to turn a profit, especially for something like this that has a very limited appeal and thus might not be worth the cost of buying the game.

3) Writer Supported Their Kickstarter: This means that the Escapist was likely not part of deciding to write and publish this piece, at least at the beginning; Marshall played the game, liked it, and probably approached his boss about writing something for it, which makes it much more likely to be approved (as initiative is usually rewarded in journalism, especially when it comes to getting people to cover niche areas). Especially for something like this, which is essentially a hype piece, it's good to know that it actually got the person writing it interested enough to personally support it.

None of these necessarily mean that the whole industry of Gaming Journalism is rigged, it just provides some handy flags for people to work out what sort of factors went into the decision to publish this. Honestly, I can't understand why you're so upset about someone volunteering information; there's not a crowd with pitchforks demanding that Lemon tell us every detail of how it got to him, but being told more about it doesn't hurt anyone.

10/10 was worth trying to drag everybody into a Gamergate discussion again.

Under_your_bed:
Snip

Oh look. Someone bringing up GG in a place that has nothing to do with GG.

Take your petty internet slap fight somewhere else. both sides of that shitfit are scum and the less its talked about the better.

OT:The stress gains as it stands at the moment is a smidge over the top. Walking around in the dark shouldnt add as much to stress as it does. I do approve of how the insane ramblings of other characters stress the rest of the party though. You sure as hell dont want to hear someone going off the deep end when everythings going to shit. I look forward to the next 6 months of development theuyre throwing into it.

Already had an expedition that went royally bad. Half the party dead, the other half nuts, objective not achieved. This game is my favorite kind of dark. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, but you gotta get down and crawl through the shit to get there.

Also for an early access game, it feels like a complete game. Bar the game crashing once (Thankfully it was kind enough to do so right after an auto-save) and a bunch of garbled text popping up one time, it's been running really smoothly.

erttheking:
Already had an expedition that went royally bad. Half the party dead, the other half nuts, objective not achieved. This game is my favorite kind of dark. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, but you gotta get down and crawl through the shit to get there.

Also for an early access game, it feels like a complete game. Bar the game crashing once (Thankfully it was kind enough to do so right after an auto-save) and a bunch of garbled text popping up one time, it's been running really smoothly.

I had the starting crusader gain Witness so he couldn't pray for stress relief...after the first mission...with no sanitarium. There was an insane crusader wandering the grounds until the sanitarium finally unlocked.

I'm afew hours in and only just got my first crash and i also saw the garbled item string earlier but other than that? Those kinds of bugs are tame for a game thats "Early access".

This game is unforgiving!!!!

Here are the two mistakes that forced a restart:

1) Hitting the WRONG button. When I was playing the first character I had the choice to FEED or STARVE and I hit STARVE. Result total party wipe on the first mission.

2) Going into a mission, kitting out, noticing the time and withdrawing... OOPS.

I will be restarting though because this game is a blast.

The only thing I think they are doing wrong is showing the personal status effects immediately. You don't know your party until they do something to show what they are. For example you don't know that a crusader needs to pray until he admits he is far from his God. You don't know someone is afraid of the dark until the light gets low, etc.

What bothers me from watching Lets Plays is how healing works. So, I can use healing spells when in open combat, but not if there aren't any enemies in the room?! How does that make sense? "Sorry, I know you're literally bleeding to death, but I can't do anything about it unless skeletons are attacking..."

It feels so... arbitrary, and leads to situations where you stunlock a single enemy while having your party healer get everyone back up to full health.

I think I'd be more forgiving of it if the combat was ramped up while allowing you to fully heal after each battle. Either that, or give the squad a limited number of heals per dungeon, but freedom to use them whenever. No healing except for combat (unless you want to devour your food supplies)... just doesn't work for me, to the point that it might dissuade me from picking the game up.

Amazing game so far, and to think this is just early access! A few things to iron out but it's looking great.

Adultratedhydra:

erttheking:
Already had an expedition that went royally bad. Half the party dead, the other half nuts, objective not achieved. This game is my favorite kind of dark. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, but you gotta get down and crawl through the shit to get there.

Also for an early access game, it feels like a complete game. Bar the game crashing once (Thankfully it was kind enough to do so right after an auto-save) and a bunch of garbled text popping up one time, it's been running really smoothly.

I had the starting crusader gain Witness so he couldn't pray for stress relief...after the first mission...with no sanitarium. There was an insane crusader wandering the grounds until the sanitarium finally unlocked.

I'm afew hours in and only just got my first crash and i also saw the garbled item string earlier but other than that? Those kinds of bugs are tame for a game thats "Early access".

Really? The exact same thing happened to my crusader. The fuck is going on at that abbey?

 

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