A rogue-like family journey full of relationships between fallible people looking for hope


Darkest Dungeon 2 is surprisingly different from its dark predecessor. While the chief developers compare the first part with a brutal ice hockey coach simulation, the second part, with its stronger rogue-like orientation, should look more like a family trip with whining children. Chris Bourassa (Creative Director) and Tyler Sigman (Design Director) said in an interview on the Epic Games Store:

Chris Bourassa: “Darkest Dungeon is like a medieval ice hockey coach simulation. You have a large squad, rotate the team, put problem players on the bench and invest in your best players. Darkest Dungeon 2 is like a journey into the Middle Ages. You travel with four children in a minibus – they argue, they tease each other, they want ice cream at the gas station, and until you reach your destination you have to try to keep your nerve …

“I think it would have been too comfortable, too little inspired to spin the same concept again – maybe we would have run out of ideas or the game would have felt like version 1.5. That’s why Darkest Dungeon II is about after a painful failure Developing new confidence in yourself. DD1 was about going deeper and deeper into the darkness. In contrast, DD2 is like trying to escape the shadows and reach the light. This time it’s not about nihilism, but about Hope and the long, hard road to making amends. This makes DD2 an independent game and can develop in directions that would not have suited its predecessor. ”

While the characters were largely interchangeable in the first part, the relationship and interaction between the characters is now more in the foreground. According to Red Hook Games, every hero strives for his own redemption and on the journey with the carriage through the doomed world one learns more background about the characters. The relationships between the characters change, but this can also lead to the characters not only hating their opponents, but also their comrades-in-arms.

Chris Bourassa: “DD2 is not a course correction, it just has a completely different focus: relationships between fallible people that develop over the course of a journey. We wonder how jealousy, friendship, lust and resentment would work out in situations where the struggle for survival would be actually causes enough stress already. There are some great moments when characters in a relationship can behave unpredictably – a lover can put themselves in danger to save their partner even though they are already badly wounded! This is extreme for the player sub-optimal and can lead to an immediate crisis, but situations like this are exactly what DD2 is all about. “

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot - Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)

Screenshot – Darkest Dungeon 2 (PC)


Tyler Sigman (Design Director) describes the new rogue-like approach and how many play-throughs it takes to get a better feel for what is going on in the world:

“In Darkest Dungeon it can take 50, 60, 80 or more hours to completely play through a campaign and experience the endgame and the story. We wanted to correct that in the sequel. We built it more like a real rogue, to enable shorter, more focused gaming experiences. Overall, it can then take the same amount of time as the first game, but the gaming experience is different. We have several systems that not only make you feel rewarded for successive expeditions, but We also have new content. First, we have the concept of five big bosses in the game (Early Access starts with one), and that immediately gives the gameplay a different goal. Over time, you learn that a different composition of the group is advantageous, depending on which nasty creature is waiting for you in the end.

Second, we have playable backstories for every hero. Chapters can be closed by meeting them on the expeditions along the way. When you reach the goal, more skills are unlocked for the hero. These skills are saved in the profile, which means that they are already activated for the next expedition that you play. This creates a strong replay value: gradually you want to unlock all heroes and all abilities. Third, there is the concept of profile levels: With every expedition you play, you earn Profile XP or ‘Hope’, which improves your profile. Each level up unlocks heroes, items, carriage upgrades, consumable items, and even character traits! The more you improve your profile, the more extensive the game mechanics become. An expedition at profile level 20 gives you significantly more tactical and strategic leeway than at the very beginning on level 1. ”

The combat system has also been changed, for example precision has been abolished.

Tyler Sigman (Design Director): “I wanted to see if we could bring in some of the crisp gameplay that you see in trading card games and other card battlers while still keeping the typical elements of Darkest Dungeon. In particular, I wanted to see if we were seeing some confusing and awkward stats and use more iconic mechanics that could be better conveyed without reducing the tactical space in the game. I wanted to take everything one step further towards a complex puzzle. The key element of this change was to transform the game mechanics into tokens: those are Symbols in the game that can be present on a hero or monster and clearly indicate a value or a mechanic, for example: STRENGTH (+ 50% damage inflicted on the next hit) or BLOCK (-50% damage taken on the next hit). Tokens are consumable, visible and predictable.

In the course of time I had set the precision in DD1 higher and higher, because it really isn’t fun at all if you miss the target. A hero with low precision was someone with at least 80% precision, while a precision of 90% or more was considered high. Precision is mechanically important, but it can also be frustrating (keyword: X-COM 95% precision). I like that with card battlers you usually already know what the attack will cause. The challenge is to choose the best attack and take into account how it interacts with the enemy characteristics and other active conditions. An example of this is the common taunt mechanic in card collecting games – it forces you and your hand, but is completely predictable. The elimination of precision has cleaned things up, made the fight a bit more predictable, and at the same time freed us from the trap of having a key mechanic that ran counter to player expectations and gameplay. Of course, it wouldn’t be interesting if every attack always hit, so we still have mechanics like dodging and blocking. For example, Dodge is a token that gives the fighter a 50% chance to dodge the next attack that can cause damage. This shifts the decision to the player: attack the monster that might evade or land a sure hit on another monster that doesn’t? The right choice depends on the combat situation and risk tolerance. Of course, Darkest Dungeon wouldn’t be what it is if it weren’t for a considerable amount of randomness and variance. The connectedness system (relationships and heroes who prefer to act alone) overlays the fight, and that means that you are never 100% in control. ”

Darkest Dungeon 2 relies more on roguelike elements. This time the group from “Heroes” is on the way with a controllable carriage to avert the apocalypse. Each expedition is supposed to last less than five hours, with new hero skills, items and carriage upgrades unlocking as progression elements that will be available on the next trip. On the way, the heroes develop personal likes and dislikes, which can lead to synergies in combat. And of course there are also tensions and arguments in the team. Between the fights, the heroes can relax from the tension in the village tavern. The combat system is based heavily on the predecessor, but has been improved and expanded. The graphic style doesn’t need to shy away from the comparison to its predecessor, only this time everything is much sharper and clearer. The switch to 3D also enables new and more complex animations. The outlines of the figures are also no longer as dominant. The voice output is only in English. Wayne June is back on board as the narrator. German texts are offered (beta version).

Red Hook Studios estimate that the early access phase in the Epic Games Store (23.99 euros) will last at least a year or more (depending on player feedback). The current content of the game is described as follows:

“We estimate that Darkest Dungeon II currently has about two thirds or more of the planned final game content. The game is structurally roguelike and already fully playable: You can complete expeditions, increase your level and unlock items. The game currently has a “final boss”, nine hero classes, dozens of enemies and more than 250 items. We plan to add four more final bosses as well as additional characters, enemies and items. These numbers are not necessarily final. As this is an early access Game, it naturally contains more errors than a finished game. “

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