Darkest Dungeon, and the beauty of trying again
Darkest Dungeon came out in February of 2015, when i was 14, and it was also a time period where i would have to deal with a lot of personal stuff, a lot of it stuff that a then teenager like me was quite definitely not equipped to deal with, so Darkest Dungeon, being an incredibly tough game, definitely did not catch my attention at the time, as i dropped it almost instantly after it gave me a sound beating.
Oddly enough, from time to time, I keep redownloading the game to try to beat it again, just to uninstall it out of frustration weeks later, first it was in 2016, then 2017, then 2018, and so on, until we’re back here, and once again I’m trying to beat this stupidly hard game that came out nearly 6 years ago now, (though to be fair, it has plenty of new content because of DLCs).
It’s a pretty unique game in the RPG/Strategy genre, as you’re not a soldier yourself, you instead to hire heroes to fight for you, and you always need to hire new heroes to replace the old ones as they begin dying or going mad. (Managing both the HP and Stress of your heroes is a vital part of the game, without HP, they die, with a lot of stress, they simply go insane and they attempt to make everyone else around them insane, including other heroes).
Not to mention the combat itself is unforgiving, with a frustrating combat system that makes it so a small misstep can completely change the tide of a fight, maybe in your favour, or maybe in the favour of the gigantic pig you’re fighting who uses a meat cleaver as a weapon and wants nothing more than to turn your heroes into food. oh, and you cant save. the game saves itself. yeah.
Which brings me to my next point: The Aesthetic, the aesthetic of this game is great, the music, the art, it all brings this feeling of hopelessness, misery, failure, also, have i mentioned the game has a narrator that describes most of the stuff happening on screen? yeah, to be honest, hes not counting on you, either, he also expects you to fail, but at least he has a really charismatic way of telling you that.
“Success so clearly in view… or is it merely a trick of the light?” -Narrator
But anyways, I think I’ve driven the point home about how much this doesn’t want you to succeed, doing everything it can to slow you down, which probably brings you to a question: What is the point of playing something that so clearly wants you to lose?
SO YOU CAN BEAT IT!!!!! FOR THE SATISFACTION OF PROVING IT WRONG!!!!
It’s not like the game is as heartless as it seems, even if your hero squad were to get fully wiped out in a dungeon run, all the game does is put you back in the town base so you can recruit more heroes, so you can try again.
You know, I’m saying all of this, but i’ve never actually managed to beat the game, i always give up after a certain part, the last time being after my most trusted hero party got completely wiped by a dungeon i thought i could clear without spending as much money on supplies. Needless to say, i was COMPLETELY wrong. Another time, the game gave me only melee heroes during a very tough week where the rest of my crew was both stressed out and i was running out of money. (you can only hire a certain amount of heroes during an ingame week, and its randomized who you can hire), Another time, An enemy monster hit a lucky crit which also caused stress, which caused a chain reaction that made 3 of my heroes go insane in the matter of 1 attack, Another time, A siren boss charmed one of my heroes to her side, she also happened to charm the strongest hero in the party, he also happened to completely wreck all of us after being charmed, then he stopped being charmed but at that point it was too late. Gonna be honest i got distracted and just started listing times i got obliterated.
But there were also times I won, like for example my most beloved hero hit a clutch attack that hit for 30 dmg, or the time one hero, instead of going insane, he went virtuous instead, (the complete opposite of insane, your hero gets great stats and they do what they’re supposed to do, SAVE THE DAY).
Or the moments where instead of me pulling off an insane stunt, its just a quiet victory where i prepared correctly and won without any troubles.
And thats when Darkest Dungeon is at its best, when you’re beating the game.
Which, honestly, is the point, it teaches us that any challenge, with enough time, can be beaten, and sometimes, even without enough time. you just have to keep trying. (besides horrible systemic oppression challenges in real life, sorry, those are fucked.)
BUT YEAH!!! Keep trying.