Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Dungeons & Dragons

Red Hook Studios’ Darkest Dungeon has all the mechanical brutality and thematic darkness. However, the game can be much more fun for us to play. With a balanced mix of breadth and depth in Dungeons & Dragons-style strategy mechanics, the game’s level of polishing in aesthetics is outstanding. It stands alongside the work of other artistically talented small development teams like Headup Games and Supergiant Games.

Besides making for a satisfying experience when carrying out or formulating plans, the difficulty level makes for a fun challenge. It requires us to develop non-trivial strategies for long-term success, as all game titles, especially strategy games, should do. Indeed, it’s a very competent blend of strategy, roguelike, and RPG, and its realism sets against a backdrop of Lovecraftian or any cosmic horror.

However, Darkest Dungeon‘s many positive Steam reviews more than compensate for its flaws. When clarifying from the start, and vice versa, the decision includes non-optional mechanisms for slowing the pace. In specific moments, it misleads players into pushing us into a subpar strategy. As well as adding to the challenge in unintentional or reckless ways, the game concludes.

Objectively, it exhibits a complete lack of respect for time. In the game, the stress mechanic is a brilliant feature, but being one of a kind, the mechanic is relatively unpopular.

Initiative Order

The overlap between RPG content and the game in the middle of Dungeons & Dragons has turn-based combat that we play in initiative order. Furthermore, the difference between long shatters and short breaks and the dodge’s and damage’s mechanics hinges on the odds of having a narrator speak for the action. Not to mention, the character level increases slowly but ends at a low number.

Numerical approaches to torchlight, stealth, and hunger and abilities with limited combat use become mechanics and play a role in character death. When a character loses all hit points, they don’t die immediately. Instead, they continued to stand and fight with reduced stats while on the verge of death. A single act of further damage will kill them. They would survive if they could raise their hit points above zero before they died.

Characters can have unlimited lives due to the generosity of the mechanic. It allows the character to survive any attack, regardless of damage, with a high or low healing speed. Assuming they have at least one previous HP, one way to achieve such a state of balance is through system stress. Stress works like a counter-health bar.


In addition to being an attribute that characters accumulate while crawling the sanitarium, it operates by a specific rule where lower numbers are preferable. When a character reaches 200 stress, they receive a lethal heart attack. It removes all hit points from the hero, counting as a potential death blow if they are on the verge of death. Since there are very few methods we can control to reduce stress during battle, we cannot dance with death indefinitely without a heart attack becoming a possibility.

However, it is not what happens at 200 strain that we can get into it. Stress management adds a neat layer of strategic complexity to the game. It provides additional attack paths to enemy designs, thereby contributing to the balance of the game’s pervasive character death mechanics. When it reaches 100, the character will have a 75% chance of becoming depressed. Depression is an unreasonable punishment and reduces your maximum health by 10%.

In addition to reducing all status effect resistances by 15%, it also reduces the damage output of evasion, speed, and accuracy. It allows characters to do several negative things in and out of combat, including increasing the stress of all player characters.

Simulating the Characters

For example, they will resist healing, choose random battle actions, interact with objects automatically, apply status effects to other characters, injure themselves or other characters, and skip turns. For most depressions, there was 30% or more of one of the negative actions against the player’s will that occurred whenever the action potentially occurred. Red Hook purports to simulate the effects of extreme trauma on characters.

Granted, that’s partly because of the severity of the depression; mostly, it’s because a suffering character can quickly increase the stress level of all the other characters. When the characters can’t take the stress anymore, they become miserable, which manifests in various changes in status and behavior. The depression persists when we send them to treatment in the city unless we can reduce the character’s stress to zero during the quest.

Then again, some unlimited combat skills lessen stress. Many limited camping skills that reduce stress count as buffs, and the character’s probability declines by 30% or more in most depressions. In the entire game, we never really manage to cure depression while in the dungeon. In the aspect where a skillful strategy can allow recovery from a streak of bad luck, Darkest Dungeon plays a more fictitious role.


In cases of powerful virtues, each character should not make more general unless they first diminish its prominence. They immediately reduce stress by up to 55% and provide temporary immunity against heart attack and depression, adding 25% more stress relief allies. However, extraordinary circumstances lead to strange phenomena; the game will incentivize new players to let their character reach 100 pressure.

Of course, it becomes an odd situation when the developers design the mechanics differently. With such elements, realistically, we can avoid them. However, it only becomes a problem when the game’s way of making players experience the system also leads to a series of design choices that accidentally go astray. Darkest Dungeon also has another area where the design elements are mismatched.

It leads to the unnecessary consumption of player time. However, the bigger issue is how it negatively impacts the game experience over time. Despite not providing a psychological type of experience, the rebuttal part becomes a way of building bonds between characters and players. It poses a real threat to the character’s life. For example, the main menu and intro cinematic often appear every period we load the game.

It underscores an aspect of the game where the narrator says the hero will die.

Stay Dead

When they die, they stay dead. However, how far will we push our adventure? How much are we willing to risk in our quest to restore Hamlet? What will we sacrifice to save the lives of our favorite heroes? The fact that Darkest Dungeon‘s ability to cultivate such an attachment had an expiration date is because of the right configuration of how we handle characters and cities. The game wants players to utilize and maintain a balanced character.

As a result, it removes negative or stressful conditions from each character through village security activities. The game provides a steady stream of new characters, which we can recruit for free on the stagecoach. Any character can leave the dungeon with any or all of the things after completing a mission. such as one or more positive habits that we deserve to strengthen, one or more negative habits that we deserve to eliminate, one or more illnesses that occur, and levels of stress and depression that increase.

In theory, excepting the limitations imposed by gold ignores the rare chance that a character gains some relevant advantage or disadvantage during the progression. After all, human life is free. In another complication, the stress relief mechanism has a 30% or higher chance of keeping the character in check for an extra week or two.

For Overconfidence is a Slow and Insidious Killer

Even a stress relief center that we can fully upgrade does not guarantee a low-stress level when carrying the character into missions with confidence. Sometimes it takes two weeks of maintenance and additional stress-relief activities to form habits. Debuffs and positive or negative quirks can also be used in stress relief activities. In the worst-case scenario, it could mean more than one straight month in the game.

Every potentially important character we saved received more than five hours of real-time without access to the character. Darkest Dungeon calls itself a game about taking advantage of bad situations. However, it’s more about capitalizing on a good situation. We have to take advantage of synergistic character abilities, lucky streaks, and bad game situations that we can’t overcome.

It’s meaningless to suggest that one should make the best of a game’s bad situations. When a bad situation doesn’t make the game more difficult, it just makes it take us a lot longer to play. The message initially reveals a dark but deeply philosophical tone in casting us as players. We are in a bad situation and facing dire straits with limited money and resources. However, the character supply is constant.

Each character has flaws, strengths, personalities, and uniqueness.

Ethical Philosophy

We fight for a good cause. However, many of the characters will die for the greater good. In the end, it is up to us to decide who is traumatized, dies, or lives. In short, the game puts us in a situation not dissimilar to what the characters face in wartime. We can win small tactical victories where nobody dies. In the end, a situation will arise where the worst cannot be avoided. Our lives must be sacrificed for the war effort.

It puts us in a bad situation, asking us to decide how many characters we are willing to sacrifice to fix it. It forces us to consider the value of human life in the face of great evil. By being an exercise in ethical philosophy, it presents players with questions about wrong and right, evil and good, and sacrifice for the greater good. Thus, it pushes us to the point where we question each character’s assumptions.

Ideally, we start slowly by keeping each character’s life our top priority. However, the game has other ideas, so it has a moral compass. Other games, such as Undertale and This War of Mine, have conservatively implemented these features.

The Ancestor

By trying to be a little moral but failing to commit to completing a task, most of us will make an already bad situation worse. With no money to purchase quest supplies such as torches and food, the four characters we descend on in each task are in a precarious situation. Therefore, we’re going to learn some strange things about how light works in games. Light is important, and we must prepare for it well.

We want to buy torches because the more dungeons that are lit, the easier it is for us. Without light, everything becomes much more unpredictable and stressful for each character. The battle became even more unforgiving. The whole experience just got more difficult. However, the rewards also get higher, and we get more treasure and gold. The story in Darkest Dungeon is where the ancestor instructs us to restore the family name and homestead to their heyday.

We do that by clearing the area of the marauders and monsters that reside there. Driven by an insatiable desire for money and power, he indirectly or directly creates all the enemies in the game. Monsters are the product of their connection with dark magic, where bandits and robbers that we met as ancestors met while doing bad tasks.

Invisible and Omnipotent Presence

We will achieve this by repeating the actions, playing the role of an invisible and omnipotent presence in the game. We control everything; there is no way for the heirs to die. Thus, we also face all kinds of dangers, whether mentally or physically. No matter how we play, we will make the characters experience stress, depression, and horror that destroy their minds. When they die, we will immediately replace them with new blood.

Tragically, the game forces each character to endure greater pressure and stronger foes for better loot. In essence, there is no morality scale in Darkest Dungeon.


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