Darkest Dungeon is a game where failures compound incredibly quickly. A single moment of bad luck can multiply into a tragedy that can end a whole dungeon run and wipe out your whole group of adventurers. Much like building a house of cards, playing Darkest Dungeon has you constantly on edge, terrified of slipping up even a little bit, lest the whole thing come crashing down.
While it may seem like an unfair game, it’s actually just a game that forces you to follow its rules. So many games now are forgiving, and let you play how you’d like. Darkest Dungeon forces you to figure out how the game wants you to play, and quickly. That’s not to say that’s all good. The game sometimes does a poor job of explaining exactly what some items or abilities do. Of course one could argue that, like Demon’s Souls, the fun is in figuring it all out for yourself.
One thing that is definitely not fun, though, is the UI controls. Being a PC game originally, the basic UI of the game is focused around windows where you drag and drop things around. It all works fine with a mouse, but it simply doesn’t work on a console. I got used to everything fairly quickly, but I feel like I’m constantly fighting the controls when I try and do anything more than the most basic of tasks. To be fair, every screen does have a very handy menu that explains what every button on the controller does, but sometimes it’s just not enough. On more than one occasion I’ve had to give up, whip out my phone and search “How do I ____ in Darkest Dungeon?” because I simply couldn’t twist the menus into doing what I wanted them to.
Aside from the clunky menu controls, though, I don’t really have much bad to say about the game. It’s a uniquely satisfying dungeon crawler with a neat spin on the usual formula. The game also has no shortage of unique boss battles that force you to totally change how you approach battles. In one unfortunate instance I fought two pigmen. One was very large and had a little buddy hiding behind him. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to take out the small one first.
I decided that he was the far scarier one since he probably had some crazy magic that would destroy me if I left him alive too long. Luckily, I scored a critical hit on him and killed him in one shot at the very start of the fight. I was very wrong. Dealing any damage at all to the little one caused his giant friend to fly into a rage and deal lots of damage to my entire group. Since I had killed the small one in one hit, the giant one was constantly enraged, dealing massive damage every turn. I managed to eventually bring him down after losing my highest level healer. Oh, the joys of exploring dungeons.