Oh, Darkest Dungeon

I have been a fan of Darkest Dungeon ever since it found its way on Early Access, and I’m mad at it.

Darkest Dungeon is a turn based tactics game where you are tasked with facing monster both human and otherworldly in a quest to recover the estate your inherited, and find some of the powerful artifacts that may or may not be the by-product of whatever it is the previous owner was doing.

At least, back when I first started playing, the game made a contract with the player: any risk you put yourself in is only the result of your actions. Sure, there is plenty of RNG that can screw you up, but in-between fights you always get a choice to back out if you’d rather not risk yet another fight. Backing out before going for a boss fights was also reasonable, and potentially the best call if you had a series of harsh fights.

Recently, they added town events, among which is an event in which the Brigands Brigade raids your hamlet. This event can only appear after the week 35, with at least four level 5 heroes and it enables a level 6 Dungeon which, if you ignore, destroys two town upgrades. It is also treated as the Darkest dungeon, in which abandoning the quest results in the death of one of the heroes you sent in.

This would be fine, except the game established a contract early on that bad things tend to happen only when you engage in the content, and how bad is dependent on how hard you wish to push your party. Not only that, all other important quest (much less the ones that kill one of your heroes) simply remain present for you to engage when you feel prepared and ready. Suddenly, the game isn’t just about preparing myself the best to increase my chances of success, I also need to always be ready for the sake doing damage control should the RNG decide to screw me over outside the combat.

I’d be fine if their razing meant that I’d lose some of my stored crests, or even half of my gold since that in now way affects what I can do in town and merely limits my future expansion, or even how much I can improve my soldiers. In fact, I would be more than okay if that event meant that for the next X weeks it would take 50% of however much gold you made. It would be a neat way to encourage you to deal with it without touching the very thing that’s supposed to be safe – the Hamlet.

Transgressions against the Hamlet – the games only safe space – don’t really work because, unlike everything else in the game that involves people dying, there isn’t much you can do beyond further risk your people and assets. You either win, assuming you are even prepared to handle the fight (hah), or your straight up lose. There is no precedent for anything like it anywhere else in the game.

Or, to be fair, there may be now. And, if there is, then Darkest Dungeon just isn’t the game for me anymore. It wouldn’t detract from my point, however, that punishing the player for something they have no control is, as a rule, terrible.