The Grueling nature of Darkest Dungeon

(And why I keep coming back for more torment.)

Darkest Dungeon is an exciting game. It's a combination of a dungeon crawler, RPG, light base management (the hamlet), and intentionally extreme difficulty.

You're not supposed to win; you are meant to scrape by and constantly be hounded by dead heroes and afflictions. Or perhaps your favorite hero is on a bender in the brothel or some high-level boss showing up when you're least prepared.
 
I usually dislike games that are overly difficult or punishing (and "punishing" is likely the best single word to describe Darkest Dungeon.) But DD captured my heart with its striking art style, spectacular narrator, and solid tactical combat. Seriously, the narrator is fantastic and worth checking out the game for that alone.

I got the game in early access and played it for about 100 hours over 3 years on and off. So I've seen it evolve in balance changes, new dungeons released, and DLC added. Some of these things made the game more manageable and complex. Still, like the dungeons themselves, it kept the game evolving, some new horror unearthed to amuse or torture the player.

I had a favorite party comprised of my first four heroes: a Vestal, A highwayman, A Crusader, and a Hellion. I had them for years until my Hellion died of a heart attack retreating from a boss. Then my Legend Vestal (known affectionately as "Bitchin' Heals") sadly died to the Crimson Curse since I didn't know how it worked. Feels bad.

Exacerbating these punitive measures was the final boss has a move to auto-kill any of your party members. You get to choose, of course, but sadly I was forced to sacrifice not 1 but 2 of my legendary champions to the void before I could consign it to slumber once more. Only Dismas and Reynauld made it to the very end, with many teammates falling along the way. Perhaps, even worse, I did not get the achievement for these specific two characters making it all the way to the end. Even this game's steam achievements mock me.

Despite all this, I kept coming back to Darkest Dungeon over the years. Upgrading your characters, acquiring items, building new Hamlet options, and getting surprised by events or bosses. There's always something to do and something new around the corner that provides a curious sort of satisfaction I haven't been able to find in any other title. I love the game, but I still wanted something different after my 100 hours of play. I didn't get the color of madness DLC as I don't think a horde mode suits the game. Also, I just had enough, and I like the style, but I want something different.

Fortunately, A Darkest Dungeon 2 teaser was revealed recently. In an interview with PC Gamer, the developers say they are making significant combat and gameplay structure changes. As such, I'm crossing my fingers for a sequel that will capture my attention yet again for years to come.