The game has a wonderful artistic direction, thick with style befitting a horror story. The title clearly has a focus on madness, and it seems to revolve around how your party might react to the worst this fantasy world has to offer:
Characters in Darkest Dungeon are not the unwavering heroes of high fantasy to which you are accustomed. While they are certainly tough and capable fighters, they are also very human: they will respond emotionally to the horrors they encounter. They get stressed, develop phobias, proclivities, and other emotional baggage. Their abilities evolve based on their experiences in the dungeons, and you must learn to lead them to victory in spite of their flaws.
Characters’ stress levels respond dynamically to dungeon events. Coming across a rotting corpse may unnerve the Highwayman, or may fuel the Crusader’s determination. If the pressures become too overwhelming, their resolve is broken, and they will become Afflicted with a range of psychological conditions including paranoia, panic, greed, or even sadism.
Afflicted party members will act out in a variety of ways that impact the play experience during combat, exploration, camping, and even in town. Like weary soldiers who have seen too much, your heroes will develop permanent quirks and emotional baggage based on their experiences.
There seems to be a heavy push towards balance; You’ve got to balance risk and rewards, madness and sanity, the lust for gold and the fear for your mortal soul. Likewise, there seems to be a heavy emphasis of tactical turn based combat, resource management, and party composition. Certain Characters abilities will only work from a certain position in line, or might only be able to hit certain enemies depending on where they are. It’s a system I can’t wait to test out….but that might be a bit problematic: with Permanent Character Death’s being toted, it seems quick thinking might be of paramount importance.
Distribution of Darkest Dungeon will be through Steam, and the game will be available for both PC and Mac (PC version preceding the Mac). The developers at Red Hook Studio have also expressed interest in “consoles, Linux, SteamOS, tablet, and even 3DS and will make decisions about those versions based upon interest and opportunity and discussions with platform holders and publishers.”
At time of writing, Darkest Dungeon has already raised $41,000 (or about 55%) of its modest $75,000 goal. With numerous stretch goal already planned, it’ll be great to see what will be in store for the future of Darkest Dungeon and Red Hook.