Darkest Dungeon is a 2D turn based roguelike game. The game can be brutally difficult and infinitely frustrating, since Darkest Dungeon focuses on the slow deterioration of your team members mental and emotional states as they progress through the dungeon.
Darkest Dungeon is a game about management and difficult decisions. You have to pick your 4 man squad with care and make sure to take enough supplies to last the entire trip, even if that means you can’t carry a lot of loot back. You have to intimately understand each of the areas, with the enemies you’ll fight and the obstacles you’ll come across, and prepare accordingly. For example, skills that inflict bleeding is not really useful when you are fighting mostly undead enemies, but if you’re in an area with mostly human enemies, then skills that inflict bleeding could be the key to winning the battle.
In terms of combat, allies and enemies are lined up and take turns to attack. Positioning is very important, ranged and melee skills can only be used from certain positions, and your positioning getting mixed up as a result of skills or whatever else can mess up your ability to do damage and heal. Additionally, when most enemies are killed they’ll leave behind corpses, which are nothing more than obstacles in the way of other enemies. They have to be cleared out if melee heroes can’t reach the enemies in the back, and Stress-inducing enemies tend to be placed all the way in the back, so it’s important to take them out as soon as possible.
Battles can be stressful, but since they are turn based, you can take as much time as you need to figure out your next move. It’s important to take note of the skills you can use, as well as how likely you can kill an enemy quickly. Once you learn what each hero has to offer and figure out what their strengths are, you’ll find battles very satisfying.
All of this comes with a tough initial learning curve, that can be very frustrating While you’re trying out new classes and getting a feel for different areas, you are very likely to fail missions and have your heroes permanently die. Darkest Dungeon is not an easy game, and it is not afraid to punish you for a lack of knowledge. While there are some tutorials available, you still have to figure out the ins and outs of the dungeons on your own to increase your chances of survival.
While Darkest Dungeon is usually tough but fair, you can get screwed over sometimes. While it does feel like the game and your management skills really shine when you’re put into unexpected and difficult situations, at times these challenges can feel a bit unnatural. Oftentimes, Darkest Dungeon doesn’t feel that way, but there are times the game just seems to throw you into dangerous situations just to remind you that you are playing a difficult game.
Darkest Dungeon rarely feels unfair, and proper preparations and knowledge of what you’re getting into will generally get you through to the end safely. While the loop of entering dungeons and slowly building up resources and hero levels might seem repetitive, it’s really more addicting, as you eventually make your team strong enough to defeat difficult bosses.