THIS GAME IS AWESOME!
Okay so for those of you that have never heard of this game from a hole in the wall--I only know about it because of Team Four Star's Renegade For Life let's plays--Darkest Dungeon is a turned-based adventuring RPG and the objective is to hire would-be heroes and send them on quests to retrieve valuables and artifacts so that you might reclaim your fallen house.
Here's the catch though:
It's a deconstruction of the genre.
given your original works and things we've talked about, you would LOVE this game.
Because YES, when you're a would-be hero that's never really adventurered into the darker parts of town, getting shot at by bandits, undead and being smacked in the body with a ball and chain by wild beast men can be very stressful. So stressful, that you probably will not want to go advneturing until you've had a minute to meditate, have a drink on the town, gather your thoughts, gamble away your problems or visit the brothel.
The fear of death, darkness and the unknown are SCARY!
Furthermore, adventurers need to EAT!
You have to bring FOOD with you on your trip in order to survive. And torches. and...shovels...and keys.
And, here's the thing, you only get a limited amount of inventory space. Yeah, no more "unlimited inventory while questing". Your heroes can only carry only so much to bring back to you.
And you use the money and artifacts they bring to rebuild the town.
It all pools back in. You have to take care of the people helping you by upgrading their equipment and the town around you so that they can keep adventuring more.
And, more to the point, new heroes are scared shitless of going adventuring a lot, whereas veteran heroes are all "Oh that? Been here, done that. Let's keep moving!"
It's a concept so brilliantly pulled off as a game-mechanic that I can't help but smile. I mean, gee, real life experience makes you more prepared to deal with adventuring against enemies trying to bite, cut and shoot you.
More unforgiving is the fact that you will lose heroes. People are gonna die and the game AUTOMATICALLY SAVES WITH EVERY TURN AND STEP YOU TAKE!
The characters you hire and take adventuring with you, NEED TO BE CAREFUL. If you lose your heroes, they are DEAD AS A DOORNAIL!
Thankfully, the game has several anti-frustration features to make it so that your heroes can, at the very least, keep trucking on to fight another day, which brings us to a concept called Death's Door
When a hero is reduced to zero hp, they are "at death's door". If they are then attacked two more times they are dead for good. So, as long as you can heal them--and the vestal, the plague doctor, the occultist can heal other party members, plus several heroes can self heal--they might be okay.
That doesn't stop you from holding your breath when you've trained up and brought along one of your veterans and suddenly all the monsters think he or she is mighty tasty.
Worse, each hero is given a name--though this is to keep you from confusing them with other heroes of the same class that have different abilities, which is another good concept that is better seen then talked about--so if they die on you after you've used them for a while...yeah.
Of course, you could just be the unforgiving taskmaster and you don't care how many lives die to get what you need. Me, I'd like to reclaim my estate by losing as little lives as possible.
Ah, but I'm avoiding the elephant in the room.
Aside from the stress building on your heroes, they will suffer "real" status ailments like bleeding--which can be healed with bandages--phobias, dementias, and other ailments that make the heroes less combat efficient, which can only be cured at the monestery, which is basically the nuthouse.
Oh, but of course, I avoid the real elephant: checking of your heroes fortitude.
This is the concept that absolutely SCREWED Vegeta while playing the game.
See, if your heroes' stress is maxed out, they will more than likely crack under the pressure of adventuring and become irrational, fearful, selfish, abusive towards their teammates, paranoid and possibly hopeless. This makes them less combat effective and highly likely to go AGAINST what you tell them to do. How do you remove
stress? Like I said, let the characters visit the abbey or the tavern and they can recover stress. The catch? You have to let them rest and can't bring them on your next quest--sometimes two as was the case with my Vestal--which means you can't bring your best or favorite party members on quests with you all the time, they'll crack and then get killed, which means you need "backup adventurers". And this is where the whole "People will die" comes into effect, because you WANT to use your really good adventurers to go on higher level quests and recover more money so that you may live. So when your really good team needs rest, you need to use guys you could care less about--that you've recruited from your caravan--and IF they die, it is of little consequence to YOU. You can only bring 4 adventurers with you at a time, but you are free to have 11 in your party to CHOOSE to bring with you--which can been increased by upgrading your caravan network.
Oh, but it's not all bad, see some heroes, when their back is pushed into a corner, they DON'T lose themselves to madness
To quote the game:Some adventurers crack under the horror, but not this one
When a character reaches their maximum stress, sometimes, rather than freaking out, they will stomp their feet down, pull themselves up by their short hairs and basically become the "hero" of your party. Their stress gets cut in half, gets relieved during battle more easily--and this stays this way for the rest of the quest--and they get a MAJOR stat boost. And this, again works to minimize YOUR stress. Of course, it's all up to RNG.
It IS possible to reduce your stress in battle too for your heroes. Killing a monster in one hit, landing a critical blow and sometimes playing to your heroes' class' personal advantages--like the bounty hunter collecting a marked bounty--will relieve a little stress. Sometimes even techniques themselves do this.
There's one more thing I want to talk about, but first let me say this: I put the above quote in bold because the guy narrating this game has one of the most awesome baritones I've heard in gaming, which helps with the atmosphere.
Oh well that tied in nicely speaking of atmosphere
Remember how I mentioned you need torches?
Well, the "in-game light" as it were, burns out the more you walk and you have to use torches to relight your path.
Now, you'd think that you'd always want to keep your path lit and never let things get too dark right?
Here's the catch
When the light gauge drops below fifty, monsters become more aggressive and heroes become more easily startled. However, the amount of loot you can recover increases significantly. Also, if the light drops below 75, expect your heroes to start stressing out over what may lurk in the shadows.
Unless you're using backup adventurers that you don't give a shit about--which as I said you will need--and you're on an easy quest, don't let the light go out unless you're feeling particularly
Trust me when I say that an enemy startling you and screwing up the placement of your team is the LAST thing you want to have happen to you.
It's all about balance.
This game feels more like a REAL adventure than anything I've ever played even though it's grindtastic and unforgiving.
It's the antithesis to games like Adventure Quest, which feels like a kid friendly parody of the genre, and it makes Final Fantasy look like a joke. Because here THERE ARE NO PHOENIX DOWNS!
It's like the Spec Ops the Line of adventure games--so yes Yahtzee needs to review this--because it lets you get lost in awesome adventuring action only to pull on the choke chain and remind you about the realism of the situation and every move you make needs to be strategically planned so you can just super move your way through a battle and hope to survive.
By all means, do give it a chance if you have Steam and $20 on hand.