If you’ve been following this site, then you know I have a love for rogue-likes and mechanic heavy games. And today’s kickstarter for The Darkest Dungeon is a game that practically ticks off every box on my must play checklist, with an awesome Gothic style to boot.
The story follows that classic plot of an evil dungeon full of treasures just begging to be explored. Your mission is to create a party of four adventurers from the available classes to brave the dungeon for fame and fortune… without dying of course.
From the description, combat and exploration revolves around careful positioning of your team as certain attacks can only hit certain positions on the opposing team. Characters are lined up on the left side with the enemy party on the right. While characters can make use of special skills while exploring the dungeon, but you’ll have to risk putting them in the front of the pack while wandering around.
The unique hook of The Darkest Dungeon and what really grabbed my attention was the idea of your team’s personality helping and hindering your journey. If things start to go wrong, your party may start fighting with themselves or even break up at the worst time. Characters may pick up traits from the horrors of the dungeon forcing you to weigh the options of braving onward or returning to town to recover. Besides exploring the dungeon, you can also make camp to tend to your characters.
There is also the Meta game of improving the local town which will allow you access to more classes, equipment and tending to your character’s needs, both physically and psychologically. Completing the package is a very somber Gothic visual style that just ties everything together into what looks to be a challenging and oppressive atmosphere.
I’ve already talked about in the past my love of the Etrian Odyssey series and their gameplay of building a party of my very own to go adventuring. With The Darkest Dungeon taking that concept further with a more tactical combat system sounds amazing. Throw in procedurally generated dungeons and we’re just reaching “icing on the cake” levels at this point for me.
If I had to be cynical about any part of the design, I have a few nagging concerns in the back of my head. Class based RPG design can be one of the harder genres to balance properly. And with the game being based around over a dozen different classes, I do wonder if every class will retain viability, or will it be a case where X is simply the weaker basic version of Y.
The idea of exploring a constantly changing dungeon sounds cool, but I am reminded of FTL in the way that while the game was different every time, a set boss fight made the game very linear and limited potential tactics.
While there is still a lot unknown about The Darkest Dungeon, it is my first backed kickstarter project for 2014 and if everything they talk about in the project comes true, we could already have an amazing RPG ready for 2015.