I try to refrain from blogging about Kickstarters I’m interested in, but when I found out about Red Hook Studios’ Darkest Dungeon a few weeks ago, I was more than impressed. It’s a PC rogue-alike RPG with a distinctively gothic crowquill art style and heavy influences from the likes of Lovecraft and Poe. The hand-drawn art style is amazing, and it hits the sweet spot between grim fantasy and horror.
What makes the game more interesting (and complex) than your standard rogue-alike is that your heroes are human, with human frailties. The game incorporates madness, fear, paranoia, and other afflictions, with many of its mechanics designed to manipulate these ailments. Stress, starvation, and disease run high in underground dungeons, and Darkest Dungeon aims to make those integral elements of its brooding horror. You need to balance your resource management: camping and eating takes up time and resources, but also has a mini-game where the characters can bolster the courage of others and lessen their afflictions.
It’s a very grim, gothic rogue-alike; the player classes reinforce that darkness, with titles like highwayman, vestal, and plague doctor. Most games in the genre have high casualty rates due to the randomly generated dungeons. Darkest Dungeon looks to increase that with its affliction system. There’s a certain sadistic draw to that kind of suffering entertainment and player-frustrating gameplay, the same reason Dwarf Fortress and Day-Z are so popular: overcoming those steep challenges makes success it all the more rewarding.
The game is coming to Steam in the near future (e.g., within the next year or two), as the Kickstarter is not only up and running, it was funded in less than 24 hours. As-of this post it’s rapidly closing on the $125k stretch goal (random boss variants), and if it keeps picking up steam it’ll make most if not all of its stretch goals. I have to wonder what new goals will be added when it approaches the (currently final) $500k goal.