Let’s get lost in the relentless darkness of Darkest dungeon II, which finally reaches its definitive version. We played with it, how are you doing?
brutal, damned and fascinating roguelite">
That of Darkest Dungeon II it is a fantasy imaginary made of darkness, desolation and despair. There is something that lurks in the dark and impenetrable fog, an ancestral disease that seems to have consumed all of humanity leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. Direct sequel of the first, highly appreciated chapter, developed and published once again by the talented Canadian team Red Hook Studios (here the Darkest Dungeon review), the game reveals that the evil entity that hid in the bowels of the Ancestor’s mansion managed to free itself and corrupt the whole world, plunging it into an endless night populated by unspeakable monstrosities.
It will be the turn of a handful of anti-heroes with a tragic past join forces in a desperate attempt to give new hope to the human race, fighting to break the cruel curse at the heart of this ruthless roguelite. The enemy surpasses us in numbers, powers and aggressiveness: will we be able to make the light prevail?
We are the flame that burns…
Without using opening cinematics or aimed at summarizing previous events, Darkest Dungeon II welcomes us with a short and menacing text message before introducing us to one of the substantial novelties. While the progenitor based each game on an outpost to be looked after and administered, this sequel has a carriage as its hub in charge of transporting the Flame of Hopean artifact capable of dispelling darkness but whose light can be challenged by a plethora of different factors, throughout the company’s journey.
Red Hook, therefore, has decided to streamline the winning formula of Darkest Dungeon, sacrificing management dynamics on the altar of a more immediate and intuitive structure. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is a permissive experience compared to the past: the truth is quite another. From the beginning of each descent into the nightmare, we will be able to take direct control of the carriage and begin to explore the gloomy settings created by the development team.
After selecting one of the Confessions, i.e. the five different unlockable campaigns that it will be necessary to complete to reach the end of the story, the carriage will arrive at the Crossroads, another clear breaking point compared to the last iteration of the saga. Here, in fact, it will be possible to establish the team that will leave for the Mountains, choosing from a well-defined cast of characters both in terms of combat parameters and in terms of pure characterization. Therefore, having abandoned the nameless and faceless soldiers of Darkest Dungeon, this sequel leads us to meet a group of valiant warriors moved by precise motivations.
The mighty Barristan, for example, plays the role of tank: it can withstand a large amount of damage before entering a critical phase and risk being eliminated, provide boosts to its companions and also deliver powerful shield blows useful for stunning opponents. The enigmatic bandit Dismas, on the other hand, takes advantage of the ranged offensive with the pistol but also lightning-fast melee attacks with the dagger, capable of applying negative statuses and initiating devastating combo chains with allies. There Grave robber Audrey, for his part, can use throwing knives to reach distant enemies and use his sharp pickaxe to eradicate the graves of fallen attackers, to allow greater freedom of action for the team. Closes the circle of the four protagonists available from the beginning Plague doctor Paracelsus, an expert alchemist capable of unleashing violent elemental attacks and also healing her companions. Each of these warriors can take on various more or less positive character traits based on the behavior demonstrated during the journey, which will have a significant impact on her performance during the fight.
There are also new unlockable skills in Crossroads, which contribute to variegate the range of war possibilities at our disposal. Also worth mentioning is the presence of simple tasks in different locations, designed to allow us to discover some moments of the fighters’ sad past, which for this reason are better characterized and more “human” than those of the previous game.
Does war never change?
The battle phases take place on the basis of rounds closely linked to the speed stats of the warriors in the field and also maintain the layout with four mirrored seats for our team and enemies. Once again, vital importance has been attributed to the correct placement of the units in the available slots, since each of the offensive and support techniques can only be activated if it complies with certain requirements relating to range and positioning with respect to the targets.
The one from Darkest Dungeon II it is a deep and articulated combat system, endowed with an accentuated strategic element that has its roots in mathematical variables and status modifiers, characteristics that could discourage players less accustomed to these degrees of complexity. Fortunately, Red Hook Studios has well thought of including a glossary that can be recalled at any time, essential for extricating oneself from the dozens of unknowns that can affect the progress of the disputes.
Furthermore, another mechanic of considerable importance is that of stress levels that can affect party members. In a terrifying context like the one proposed by Darkest Dungeon II, the sanity of the protagonists can deteriorate quickly and reach the state of Crisis or Exaltation during the clashes. In the first case, the wrestler’s health bar will be drastically reduced, paving the way for possible unexpected final blows from the opponents. In the second case, the energy will be largely recharged and the warrior could also provide Inspiration bonuses to his companions.
Unfortunately we are faced with a mole of the formula, because the absolute uncertainty of this dynamic, the implications of which are impossible to predict in advance, can represent a real scourge for the user’s tactics. We would have liked to be able to keep an eye on the probabilities of the realization of the two states (Crisis and Exaltation), in order to intervene in real time to protect the unit in question or, conversely, concentrate on the offensive effort. Once the team is assembled and the strategies set, however, it’s time to embark on the adventure following the paths traced by Red Hook in the bowels of his plagued world. The various settings that separate the checkpoints (here known as Inns) can host various activities ranging from simple fight meetings to support activities for the civilian population. By completing the tasks you will get useful items, positive status changes, chests full of precious loot and many other surprises. There are also areas full of traps or points with particularly rough roads that can compromise the stability of our vehicle which, once reset, it will force the player to proceed with the repairswhile defending itself from the onslaught of monsters.
The various Inns play an important role in shaping the relationships between the protagonists: inside them – but also during the journey – the characters can develop likes, dislikes, resentment or even hatred towards one’s allies, feelings the latter that could generate unpleasant interactions or even full-blown attempts on life (and in the midst of battle). The problem is that the player cannot intervene in any way in the development of these bonds or to avoid difficult situations which are sometimes capable of generating frustration.
mind you, we are talking about a generally very valid playful recipe, which manages to keep glued to the screen for the dozens of hours needed to get to the epilogue. Having said that, there is a bitter taste in the mouth at the thought of what the experience could have been in the absence of the critical issues just highlighted.
The warrior’s rest
After completing each of the procedurally generated segments that form our path to the foot of the Mountain, theater of the inevitable boss fightit is possible to find refreshment at the aforementioned Inns, where it is possible to reorganize, enhance the skills of the heroes, buy objects and repair the diligence: it will be very important to intelligently manage the resources found on the field to maximize the chances of victory.
These meeting places also allow you to go back to the beginning of the adventure to spend the Candles earned in wanderings to improve the performance of warriors, unlock new pieces of equipment or hire additional fighters such as the Jester, the Leper, the Bounty Hunter, each with their own past and characterized by a peculiar offensive and strategic set. In other words, the formula is further enriched by the presence of these additional party members.
It is precisely here that the roguelite soul of Darkest Dungeon II takes over: unlike the other items, the Candles they are kept even in the event of death and allow access to essential aids to complete the Confessions and arrive safely at the encounters with the bosses which, of course, represent the greatest challenges of an already rather difficult title of its own. Well differentiated and orchestrated, the confrontations with the major enemies they require you to better coordinate your team’s offensive skills and specificitiesbecause only then will it be possible to achieve a triumph in battle.
There’s so much to see and learn in this sequel but don’t expect the game to take you by the hand and show you all the ingredients of its recipe: experience, suffering and countless defeats will be your best teachers. On the visual front, Darkest Dungeon II introduces a 3D game world graced by a first-rate artistic direction, which draws it as if it were a gloomy children’s storybook. The protagonists are angular but absolutely delicious and perfectly recognizable and even the enemies are painted with skill. Bosses, as well as common threats, they are clearly Lovecraftian in origin between sprawling horrors with immense cosmic powers and blood-hungry undead.
The Red Hook art team has done a really interesting job, declining these obvious inspirations according to their own tasty personal vision. The result is a dark dark fantasy fairy tale that will remain etched in your memory for a long time. The animations in the combat phases and the sound sector are also pleasant, as well as the English dubbing of the characters, always well acted and correctly intoned. The insiders did things right this time too.
Darkest dungeon 2PC Analyzed VersionIn conclusion, Darkest Dungeon II has taken a different path than its predecessor but its hardcore soul is intact and clearly visible. It is a ruthless, violent roguelite and embellished with a combat system of rare complexity which, after a few hours of experience and attempts, shows an incredible depth. Net of some problems mainly related to the excessive randomness of some mechanics, we are talking about a title that should not be missing in the luggage of any fan of the genre.
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