Darkest Dungeon 2 review - Man at arms

The darkest dungeon 2 review

The darkest dungeon 2 review


need to know

what is it? Darkest Dungeon Roguelite Road Trip and Sequel
release date May 8, 2023
expect to pay $39.99 / £33.50
developer red hook
publisher red hook
Reviewed on RX 6800 XT, i5 12400F, 16GB RAM
steam deck support is coming
associate Official Website(opens in a new tab)

Darkest Dungeon 2 can sometimes be a difficult game to love. Like a party of heroes crammed into an armored vehicle and rumbled down the road of oblivion, negativity is somehow unavoidable. This could be when a series of ill-timed critical hits kills a hero and leaves your team in shambles, or when you reach a hill after four areas to find a final boss you’re totally unprepared for. There are countless hazards that can end a run and relegate you to the shadowy fringes of the map to lick your wounds and complain. Like its predecessor, love and hate spin on the same weird axis, and it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether the ultimate victory is worth the ordeal to get there.

This isn’t really a sequel, but a complete reworking of the original game’s formula. Gone are your lovingly restored run-down manors and ramshackle hamlets, replaced by a rickety stagecoach that you must ride across a world plunged into madness. You’ll navigate point by point through each roguelite region, balancing risk and reward to earn trinkets, gadgets, and make sure you reach the mountain with tough heroes ready to meet the cosmic monsters that await. If you fail, it’s back to square one, spending your candles — the progress resource you collect with each run — to unlock upgrades and heroes that make your next attempt easier.

Each region has its own nightmarish aesthetic (Image credit: Red Hook) (opens in a new tab)

Despite mixed reception when it launched into early access in October 2021, Red Hook made some smart design choices along the way, alleviating the problem of character relationships and pressure playing too much of a role in determining victory, adding The durability of armor and wheels trains so the area is not just endless road battles, and the continuous progress system of candles is introduced. My personal favorite feature? Radiant flame. This modifier adds an “Easy Mode” item that you can equip to a stagecoach, which gets stronger each time it fails. Despite any criticisms I may have, version 1.0 is definitely the strongest overall iteration of the game to date.

road rage

A typical run of Darkest Dungeon 2 lasts a few hours, in which you fight and pilot your trainer through danger. Whether it’s the wheel-cracking pebbles in The Sprawl, the barrage of arrows in The Tangle, or the Abomination that builds up and boosts the final boss’ health (if it’s maxed out) – each has a unique little animation that sets the tone for the region. . In addition to overcoming obstacles, you can also enhance your heroes by looting trinkets, removing negative quirks from hospitals, and gaining new abilities from shrines of reflection. Each region also has its own lair boss to defeat, rewarding you with a trophy that clears your way to the mountain at the end of the run.

Overall, it’s a fun tactical experience, but it can be a bit taxing at times. Darkest Dungeon 2 is a very time-consuming game, whether it’s how long it takes to complete a run, or collecting candles to unlock trinkets, upgrades, items, and whatever investments you need to give you an edge in the future.

Take the Temple of Reflection, for example; these nodes grant new permanent abilities to your chosen hero, provide some backstory, or a puzzle battle, but to get all the abilities of even a single character, you need to visit six temples, which Means to run multiple times while the hero is on the field. After 30 hours of play, there are still quite a few heroes with abilities I haven’t touched, which can have a knock-on effect – especially if one of your heroes dies midway and a random character has to fill their shoes, but There is no best ability, and it is difficult to maintain a flexible ranking.

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Candles earned from running are used to unlock and upgrade heroes (Image credit: Red Hook) If you lose all your wheels or armor, you’ll have to fight a repair battle (Image credit: Red Hook) Shrines found along the way unlock new Ability for heroes (Image credit: Red Hook)

Admittedly, this is my own fault for not playing many other characters and instead putting abilities in individual hero teams that I like and want to buff. But that’s what makes Darkest Dungeon 2 confusing, especially for those who played the first game. In a way, it wants you to expand your lair; try out multiple characters, and it incentivizes this by giving each hero specific candle bonus goals, paths that focus on their character, and random starting quirks. But at the same time, it places a final boss at the end of every run you’re trying to beat, and the quickest way to do that isn’t to experiment and invest in lots of heroes, but to prioritize strengthening a single party.

Overall, it’s a fun tactical experience, but it can be a bit taxing at times.

Relationships also seem to push you to be more flexible. If your two heroes develop a positive affinity through fighting together, keeping stress low, and doing things at the inn between each area, they have a chance to bond. This adds a random mutual buff to both of their abilities. While whether these are actually useful depends on luck, they do encourage you to use your hero in different ways rather than relying on the same few attacks.

Darkest Dungeon 2 wants you to get to the point where you unlock all characters, abilities and paths, I bet it would be fun to randomize your party and experiment with characters and levels, or just pick the one with the most quirks to start running and go from there. That said, the sheer groundwork required to get to this point is a significant time commitment in terms of ongoing progress, and I don’t believe the five areas and nodes of the game can necessarily bear its weight, no matter how many times they are reorganized .

Relationships have the potential to form as you enter each area (Image credit: Red Hook) (opens in a new tab)

against the dark

By comparison, Darkest Dungeon 2’s combat is far stronger than the first game’s, with new 3D animations that are more flashy and easier to understand through tokens. The token system provides a clear visual representation of the buffs and debuffs each character gets: protective shields, taunt speakers, blinding eyes; you quickly get used to what each symbol means and how to best apply or remove them. Tokens can also be a great way to showcase unique character mechanics. For example, Mystics and Vestal have tokens called Unbridled Strength and Faith, which they can harvest and use to enhance their abilities. Paths, as mentioned, are another great addition. Character feats you unlock with candles and choose at the start of your run to enhance specific skills and playstyles, making it easier for you to use them in specific roles.

As always, the bosses and enemies are well designed, and at the end of each confession you’ll find a big bad waiting on the hill, guaranteed to surprise you and most likely kill you in the first place. As in the first game, knowledge is as valuable as any resource, and figuring out how to deal with each boss goes a long way towards helping you actually finish the game. Even if the amount of combat and recurring enemies slows things down a bit at times, there are plenty of nasty surprises waiting on the road and in the heart of each area. Whether it’s the bandits trying to rob you of your antiques and hers, or the boss’s lair – each is a brilliant visual story that helps portray the ruined world.

Darkest Dungeon 2 lacks the same level of character investment as its predecessor.

Red Hook also did justice to its roster of returning heroes and their action sets. Despite the reworked ranks being more flexible — and the addition of paths — it was easy to pick up most of them from where you left off in the first game, and strong heroes like Plague Doctor are still An absolute force that cannot be ignored.

Still, Darkest Dungeon 2 lacks the same level of character investment as its predecessor. One of the things that made the original so great is that when you risk your beloved high-level heroes to overcome ultimate challenges, your greatest victories are often far from your worst defeats.

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Red Hook’s boss designs are still excellent (Image credit: Red Hook) A new 3D art style makes the battles shine (Image credit: Red Hook) Each of the game’s five confessions helps explain what’s happening in the world Things (Image credit: Red Hook) Stagecoach can be upgraded with a variety of gear, including pets (Image credit: Red Hook)

The sequel still has key moments of desperation, like Death’s Door’s characters reaching maximum pressure and rolling virtue instead of collapsing to save the day, but death itself feels different. If one of your heroes manages to survive a run, you can add a buff called “Memory” to them, but cultivating a group of favorites you want to keep alive isn’t a core part of the experience, nor is it a Easy things come true. Heroes are one-offs, even more so than the original, because you know they’ll be waiting for you at the intersection when you start a new run in an hour or two to get back, which takes away a lot of the stress of being around them dying . You have to invest in something to make its loss feel severe, and I think part of that sacrifice is in favor of the sequel’s formula.

Still, it’s easy to see what Darkest Dungeon 2 is; a gloomy road trip through a dying world with great combat and art design. As much as I think it feels a bit paradoxical in terms of wanting players to experiment, requiring significant progress to make it happen, ride your stagecoach into hell, fight like hell, and enjoy the nightmarish scenery and mood. It’s definitely not as engrossing as the first game, but there’s still a lot to love, especially for those who enjoyed the scene and will be excited to see it fleshed out further.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.