First impressions: Darkest Dungeon II

Darkest Dungeon is on the list of games that I play and enjoy and I am garbage at. It took me a long time to really start to understand the different stats and strategy hidden in each nook and cranny of the game. I think I managed to get through the first several hours of game play on sheer luck. I started over a few times, trying to craft the perfect group of adventurers and keep their stress levels low enough that I didn’t end up with a inn full of losers with obnoxious quirks.

That being said, it has managed to maintain very positive reviews on Steam since it’s release in 2016 for a reason – it is a solid game. It was one of the first rogue-like games that I ever played and somehow manages to have both a cult following and feel mainstream enough to reference with other games. And also big enough that a sequel is now on it’s way, set for release in May 2023.

Last week, the Darkest Dungeon II demo was released on Steam as part of “Next Fest”, a week long peek at upcoming titles with playable demos. I gave the demo a try last night and here are my first impressions.

  • Visually, this is a cool 3D rendering of the characters we know and love. The animations are flashy. For all the gore and gross, this game is somehow very pretty.
  • I was having a heck of time figuring out how to even open up the character pages to assign trinkets and equip bandages. I think part of this is the stagecoach
  • I know this is a rogue like and that part of this genre is the lack of instruction, that you learn through trial, error, and failure but I definitely felt like the stagecoach section needed more explanation. Was I supposed to run over things? Was I supposed to stop at other spots or just drive through? I know they wanted to do something different with this new game, but the way the coach just zooms around made the sequence kind of comical to me rather than setting the spooky tone.
  • They have added more “character management” (I guess that’s the best way to put it) with not only trying to avoid your party members from losing their minds, but you also want them to build relationships with each other. The game hints that this will pay off later with combos in battle.

I might try to play the demo again before it goes away (it said available for a limited time and Next Fest ends on Monday, February 13) but really all this made me want to do is revisit Darkest Dungeon and “get good” at that game before even considering picking up the sequel. Even if the sequel is really good, it has more layers than the original and I have not even come close to mastering that one (I’m not even sure I beat more than the first boss!)

If you haven’t played Darkest Dungeon, I highly recommend it if you like a challenge and it regularly drops down to less than $10 on Steam. And it’s actually on Xbox Game Pass right now too!

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