We all have those games we loved but, for one reason or another, never finished. If you’re me, you tell yourself, “I’ll revisit it,” as if dozens of other games won’t act as eternal distractions. That is to say: as much as I enjoy Darkest Dungeon, and even with having sunk something like 90 hours into it, I never did finish it. I never even came close.
Recently, in an act of procrastination, I decided to return to Darkest Dungeon and check out the updates since February, when I last wrote about it. In that time, the most noticeable changes are the release of the Antiquarian class and the implementation of Town Events, while a UI adjustment to the town screen makes bouncing between buildings a breeze. Increased roster sizes, higher level characters arriving via stagecoach, and more information in the Activity Log help with hero management. I’ve read that balance tweaks have been mostly geared towards the end-game grind, while the process of growing your town has become less lopsided now that you can exchange heirlooms of one type for another.
Leveling your heroes feels smoother now. It’s still challenging, but in my time playing the game, I’ve come to understand one very important thing: debuffs are not to be underestimated. We already know Darkest Dungeon isn’t the typical simple dungeon crawl game, but once I began to recognize how to pair different classes’ strengths with one another, an entirely different level of gameplay opened to me. Still, sometimes I sat around looking at the disease debuffs and negative quirks on my heroes and wondered if I’d ever have enough coin to take care of them.
Enter the Antiquarian. By far the weakest fighter in the game, she provides excellent support to your party — and she brings in extra money. The loot table on enemies, relics, and chests include antiques when she’s with you. Minor antiques sell for 275 gold and stack to 20; rare antiques sell for 1000g and stack to 10. Being able to stack coins to 2000 instead of 1500 helps, too. While she won’t be damaging your enemies much, she’ll dodge their attacks, help your party to dodge, and provide survivability to some of the glass-cannon classes.
I’m certain there are party compositions that skew Antiquarian-heavy in order to farm more gold, but I’ve found that bringing one along on every other mission works for me. Having extra gold to use on removing diseases and adjusting quirks makes a huge difference in survivability. I get a little thrill out of ushering my abomination into the Sanitarium to have his rabies cured (as if he needs more diseases!), and from being able to assure my favourite highwayman will have that +attack quirk forever*.
Town Events are an interesting addition. Upon return from an excursion, an event may begin; these provide a myriad of effects, either beneficial or frustrating. Your armourer may provide one free armour upgrade. Darkness may descend upon the hamlet and make all stress relief less effective. The bar might be closed – but then, the brothel offers a discount. The events bring a little more flavour to the Hamlet, which is critical given how important the breaks between dungeons are in terms of gameplay; now they feel more important from a story perspective, too.
The development team remains responsive and appreciative of their fan base, which is one of my absolute favourite things about Red Hook Studios. They care, and it shows. Taking a lesson from the community’s feedback during early release, Red Hook now beta-releases patches on Steam for playtesting.
I’ve sunken another 30+ hours into Darkest Dungeon since revisiting it, and I plan to continue going. I want to see everything the game has to offer. If Darkest Dungeon has gotten lost in the shuffle for you, or if you haven’t yet checked it out, now is a great time.
Your opulent and imperial house awaits.
*until he dies horribly.