In a dark world, only a few choice heroes will be able to carry the spark of hope on their journey. When the world is crumbling around them, these heroes will be constrained by time and consequence. Each choice these champions of hope make will impact their journey and may even lead to the eventual demise of the party, leaving the player with no choice but to start again.
This is the reality of players’ quest in Darkest Dungeon II. As they journey into a world long destroyed by chaos and ruin, players will have to foster hope in their party and the world. If their party loses hope on the way to their destination, players will have to restart on a new procedural path.
What’s good about Darkest Dungeon 2?
For fans of the original Darkest Dungeon, the sequel brings back many dark themes that the first one had. The grim narrator is back as well, giving players a tinge of hope or lamenting the despair around them. In addition, the art style is improved, and the game now partially exists within a 3D world when players are riding through the caravan, giving a better idea of the world Darkest Dungeon takes place in.
Each time players start the game, they’re greeted with the message letting them know that Darkest Dungeon II intends to let them fail multiple times. Through learning the game and its mechanics, players will be able to face the horrors that await them. Unfortunately, with each new run being procedurally generated, players never know what to expect around the next turn.
Players must choose their starting group when they begin a journey and organize their lineup based on strengths and weaknesses. While only four heroes will be available when you start, you can unlock more by completing profile-level requirements on your journey. Once on the trail, players will choose between multiple splitting paths, never knowing what awaits them after each decision.
This unexpectedness is genuinely exciting while you’re journeying, as a random benefit or battle can significantly impact your playthrough. You can snap victory from the jaws of defeat and vice versa. With proper planning and a good team, the player can quickly learn the ropes and make it pretty far in the first couple of runs.
The player gets periodic rests at inns dotted along the trail, using items that grant healing and buffs. Inn items allow the player to level up characters’ different attributes, heal, and reduce the stress that has been acquired from previous engagements.
Speaking of, the stress system has made a return. Players of the first game will remember that they’ll undergo stress as negative actions happen to your characters. If the stress level gets high enough, it’ll create new issues that impact that character’s abilities. It can also make the characters within your party fight amongst themselves, complicating what you’re able to do with those two people.
What’s negative about Darkest Dungeon 2?
Whether this is negative will likely depend on the player, but this sequel feels a little more forgiving than the original game. The first Darkest Dungeon was often debilitating with how it treated your characters. You could be on your twentieth run and get no further than your tenth in that game.
That doesn’t mean the game isn’t challenging to play, just that it seems to take less time to progress than in previous entries. Also, leveling your profile and getting other items felt like it came naturally instead of something that the player would have to take a risk for.
Something that takes away from the game’s flow heavily is when characters begin to start distrusting one another. Once the stress level has become high enough, there’s a chance that one of the party members may grow to loathe one of the others. When this happens, battles are frequently interrupted by the characters criticizing each other, dealing even more stress damage.
The mechanic of characters growing to distrust one another is great, but it shouldn’t take away from the battle every time a player makes an action. Stalling the fight for another 10 or more seconds every other action is frustrating and dramatically impacts the length of each battle. It would be so much faster if the game didn’t make it such a monumental moment each time the character says something.
The great thing about the first Darkest Dungeon is that it was a rogue-like that was great for a run or two through the dungeons before you put it down. Unfortunately, each run can go on for hours in the sequel, which means players will have to set aside time or leave in the middle of their journey, only to pick up later.
The Final Word
Darkest Dungeon II is a faithful sequel that pays respect to the original while still evolving on many mechanics. While the runs can take a while and the character dialogue in battles can be annoying, it still features an impressive tone and excitement in each twist and turn that it can bring.
Our Darkest Dungeon 2 review was written based on the PC version of the game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!