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Darkest Dungeon 2 Review

(Image from Steam Game Page)

The first Darkest Dungeon is already a popular rogue-like game. The game acquired popularity not only because of its dark design, outstanding narration, and intriguing party of adventurer construction, but also because of the cruel difficulty of the combat. The writers eventually added other equally interesting improvements to the game, and even now, more than seven years later, the number one is still worth paying attention to. However, the second instalment has been in the works for some time at the author’s Red Hook studio.

Darkest Dungeon was officially released into early access in 2015, If you’ve already played the first part and want a change, Darkest Dungeon 2 is a fantastic option. If, on the other hand, you refuse to give in and want more of the same, some of the news may come as a surprise. At first look, the fighting mechanism in both games appears to be the same. You control a group of four adventurers who confront the same or less adversaries at the same time in random encounters across a level. It’s a very conventional turn-based game in which you deal wounds with various attacks or help each other in a team by healing and so on. Positions are essential once more – certain heroes want to be in the front, while others prefer to be in the back, and if someone messes up your order, it may be disastrous. The heroes are old allies from the first game. However, the collection is limited, with numerous originals missing. There is just one new character in this 2nd part which gives you a total of twelve to pick from (there were sixteen in the first plus two more).

This time, though, you are not hiring heroes from the party’s existing roster, and no one may die permanently to you. The feature which made the first half so brutal was the possibility that a character you’ve been worrying about for a long time will die irrevocably. There is no risk here; even if your entire group is devoured by a demon from hell, you may start off again with the same composition the following time. This time, though, you are not hiring heroes from the party’s existing roster, and no one may die permanently to you. One of the aspects that made the first half so brutal was the possibility that a character you’ve been worrying about for a long time will die irrevocably. There is no risk here; even if your entire group is devoured by a demon from hell, you may start off again with the same composition the following time.

(On-going Battle)

If you played the first part, you will be quite familiar with many of the powers of the supplied characters. In fact, you may boldly expand on your past expertise with some individuals. Yes, a few minor details have changed, but the given hero will still act in the same manner as previously. Plague Doctor will continue to launch debilitating and poisonous bombs, Grave Robber will continue to throw knives, Vestal will continue to cure other heroes, and so on. There is also the aspect of stress, which steadily builds up for the heroes until it might lead to a psychological breakdown or, on the other hand, a (less common) display of courage.

If I were to describe the developments thus far as more modest, it is only now that the actual journey begins. Also, literally. The level structure has been totally altered; you no longer select from all available options and do not go on one-off smaller or bigger excursions, but instead attempt to progress through a series of successive “chapters,” always beginning with the most recently unlocked one. The levels have grown in length, and the layout is very similar to that of Slay the Spire, with branching routes that can merge after a while and icons at crossroads displaying the given area of interest.

Back to what I previously mentioned, your party no longer walks as they instead take a stagecoach. You can even control the stagecoach with arrows though it’s not necessary because it turns automatically and you just choose the direction to go at the crossroads, or knock down smaller piles of leaves, wood, and other junk, from which a little game may fall out currency or objects here and there.

This “improvement” of the game is a step back for me, and I much like the cautious exploration of the levels on foot in the original. For some reason, driving in a stagecoach isn’t much fun, and it adds another level of risk to the game if your wheel breaks or the fortifications are broken. Then you must defend yourself from random bandits raiding, while one of your party members is constantly engaged, mending in a given turn.Before embarking on the next voyage, you can repair the stagecoach and relax the heroes in the inn, which is always the final stop of the level. In addition to mending the stagecoach, you may upgrade the heroes’ powers, buy new equipment, and, of course, take care of their physical condition and stress level.

Mutual connections in the group are new in the game and can affect individual talents in either a favourable or bad way. Party members might be resentful or envious of one another, or they can support one another. Here, I would only venture to state that this feature in Darkest Dungeon 2 appears utterly unneeded, so I would just delete it. It only complicates the game and largely adds to the difficulty because it’s quite simple for your group to come apart and then just toss sticks at each other’s feet.

Managing your community is also no longer an option. That is, it is still present in some form, but it performs an entirely new function. Candlesticks, the in-game money, are now used to purchase all upgrades. The more successful you are in a given try, the more candlesticks you receive, which you may then spend in permanently strengthening heroes, unlocking new things, enhancing the stagecoach, and a variety of other game features at the start of the following adventure. Candle cosmetics are also available.

The game just functions drastically differently, almost as if it’s attempting to be more generic and has less of the original character that fans enjoyed so much in the previous one. At the same time, I must commend Darkest Dungeon 2. On the one hand, it’s because of the improved visuals – the game transitioned from 2D to 3D, and you can notice. Hero animations are now more detailed and lively, and it’s a thrill to see them move more fluidly throughout fights and respond to victory or defeat. The same is true for adversaries. The colour scheme of the duo is also dismal. I truly want a number one in the graphic coat of a number two. Another new feature that I enjoy is one of the fresh new randomly occurring areas of interest on the maps, which are shrines that allow heroes to reflect on their history. It is broken into numerous chapters for each of them, so collecting them all will take some time, but it is well worth it. Heroes gain new skills here, but in a very unique way.

(Moving with the Cart to the next location)

Sometimes it’s simply a bit of narration, but other times you’ll get a particular combat that isn’t like the others in the game. For example, Jester’s background involves a guitar battle in a graveyard in which you must answer suitably to the opponent’s music, followed by the wanderer sneaking through the darkness in a type of stealth minigame and stealing the keys to her cell from the nasty nun. In short, everyone has something to offer, and if there was one thing that kept me going in Darkest Dungeon 2, it was uncovering new shrines and relics from the heroes’ history.

Of course, the game this time has a captivating narrator who not only adds to the mood of the levels, but also delivers pieces of the main plot at the start of each try. If you don’t want to play in English, there are other subtitle languages available.

I have no complaints about the game’s technical aspects, with the exception of one minor detail: the lack of gamepad compatibility. On it, you just use the lever to manipulate the cursor most of the time. It is preferable to just play with the mouse and keyboard. Hopefully, when the creators create console ports, it will improve.

In any case, Darkest Dungeon 2 will take you a long time, exactly like the original, which is a standard characteristic of the rogue-lite genre. However, I must say that I found it to be quite monotonous and, at times, extremely coincidental. Even the finest group might just burn down in a crucial combat owing to bad luck, forcing you to restart from the beginning. Furthermore, certain boss encounters are less about innovation and more about a nearly fixed party composition, following the appropriate processes, and, of course, a healthy dose of luck with fake dice rolls. 

In conclusion, Darkest Dungeon 2 is an uneven combination of fantastic and bizarre concepts that will likely make you want to replay the first section. Or, at the very least, consider it before discovering how similar it was in many aspects. If you don’t know him, the number two has a lot higher chance of getting through to you.

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