Darkest Dungeon was available in early access for just over 1 year before it’s official launch a few weeks ago on January 19th. So while the title indicates that this review is a first impression, it is more my thoughts on version 1.0 rather than first impressions on a game which has been around for a fair bit of time.
Having signed up for the early access to Darkest Dungeon, I previously racked up around 3-4 hours of play but then made a conscious decision to stop playing. Various aspects of the game were still changing on a frequent basis, so I figured I would wait, biding my time for the game launch to complete it, which in my view is the best experience.
If I had to describe Darkest Dungeon in a few words, I’d say it is a side scrolling Dungeon RPG in which the game tries its up-most to make you lose.Set somewhere in 15th-16th century, Darkest dungeon is a game about management and taking risks, pushing your luck where you think you can and dealing with the consequences when that game hits back at you for pushing to hard. You are the player and as far as story goes are tasked with restoring an old man’s manor. The only problem is that the depths of hell have spilled out below the manor and taken over the surrounding cellars and grounds. You assemble a party of 4, based on many different classes available and set out into the Darkest Dungeon to reclaim what has been taken away and left to rot.
The first thing you realise is how much the game is against you; at every turn you are taking damage, be it a blow from a cult zealot or from looting treasure from a cursed wardrobe, you are always fighting an up hill battle to survive and keep your party alive. Darkest Dungeon works on both health and a stress mechanic. Health is as you expect. Should a party members health reach zero, they die. Stress brings a whole new element to contend with, for if a character gets to stressed then he/she can develop a bad trait that will in turn bring the rest of the party down resulting in more stress and potentially more bad traits.
Darkest Dungeon looks great, taking its art style from graphic novels it provides an eerie feel as you wander the depths of the manor trying to stay alive. So far, I’ve played about 12 hours of the game. I’ve been taking it slow, trying not to lose anyone along the way and thinking about each move before I decide to commit. For the most part I feel I am doing well, but I have a feeling death in this game can’t be helped and it won’t be long before a key party member falls and I have to pull in a rookie to fill the gap.
When I first ventured into my medium size dungeon I thought I was stocked up to take on anything, and while I had an answer for the most part, nothing was going my way. Every strike was a miss and every chance to loot some goods had some ill effect on my party. My party was stressing and so was I. Finally made the choice to flee, valuing the lives of my party over the glory of completing a dungeon. Fleeing allows you to keep all the loot you have currently gathered, but your party takes the hit of keeping any stress and ailments that were endured during the run. Some of the ailments can have dire effects on the moral of the rest of the party; for example a party member can become abusive and will shout curses and jibes at their comrades, thus in turn bring down party moral even more.
Darkest dungeon has a nice pace that I could and have passed a whole Sunday afternoons playing. Anyone who enjoys a good RPG dungeon crawler or rouge like games then Darkest Dungeon is for you.
February 5th has arrived. Any PC gamer who keeps there ears close to the ground, or should I say eyes close to the screen, knows that today is the release of XCOM 2.
XCOM 2 is the squeal to the 2012 BAFTA award wining strategy game XCOM more specifically XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
Although I am no stranger to combat strategy and RTS games, I’ll hold my hands up and say I have never played an XCOM game before. I’ve watched XCOM on streams and I’ve had no end of recommendations telling me XCOM is a must have for any PC gamer, but I just never got round to it. When XCOM 2 was announced I promptly added it to my steam wish list, patiently waiting on the release date to come to break my XCOM virginity.
As I launched the game, I was greeted to the usual menus you would expect to see in an AAA game in 2016. I went straight to video options to ensure I was playing everything on maximum graphic settings. I fiddled with the sound levels to get them on my preferred levels. Upon launching a “New Game” I was presented with the difficulty menu. As a new player, I went straight for Iron-man mode, as having watched many XCOM streams I figured this was the mode for me… No that’s a lie. Having never played an XCOM game before, I selected Rookie like the little bitch noob I am.
The game begins with a standard tutorial teaching you the basics, i.e. how to move and shoot while ensuring you have any understanding of the UI. The tutorial does a good job of getting you into the swing of things quickly and unless you are a die hard XCOM player, then its probably best you give it a quick run through. From what I’ve played, at no point was I confused about what is going on or what I’m trying to do.
During the tutorial I lost two of my squad, and I am still trying to work out if that was meant to happen as part of the tutorial to educate you on how cut throat the game can be should you make the wrong decision? In the end, the tutorial was done and I progressed into the 1st cut-scene that will lay the ground work on the story to come. The cut scene itself looked great but it was a little lost on me. Having not played the first game, I didn’t have the back story to appreciate what was happening that I guess most others would, although it doesn’t take a genius to work out what roughly went down.
The game play is excellent. It flows well and looks great, from the characters and the cover your ducking behind, to the enemies you blasting from afar, giving you the polished feel you would expect from a AAA. A major bonus these days is that the game so far for me has run without a hitch, which for some developers and publishers is a big ask.
I took a tour of my ship which acts as your main command hub, visiting the various rooms to see what could be done while not fighting the baddies. Upon visiting the Command Centre, I jumped into my first mission and got my first experience of that XCOM magic. It took me 3 attempts to beat the first mission, jeez. The first attempt I lost most of my guys in a fire fight and when power core (the mission) blow up it killed my last 2 squad members resulting in a fail. During my 2nd attempt I faired better but just didnt have my guys in the right place to get the core before it blew. By my 3rd try, I had it down and was getting the hang of things. I lost one man to mind control but for the most part it went without a hitch. Feeling good after getting through the 1st mission. I took my promotions and jumped straight into the next and aced it. Every move I made, every shot I took was going my way. I was slaughtering enemy’s left night and centre and the feeling is great when a well thought our plan comes together.
As it stands I’ve played just shy of 90min of XCOM 2 now. While I would say this isn’t enough to give a full review, the initial impressions are excellent. The game looks great and runs without a hitch and is a blast to play. In a time where massive RPG’s and short multi-player focused FPS’s reign supreme, it is great to sit back down to a good combat strategy where I don’t need to make split second decisions and can take things slow to ponder my moves and think about what will come next.
When I started writing this initial impressions review, I said i would keep it sort and sweet and on that note we’ve come to an end. This is my first attempt at doing a game review; while I have been a PC and Console gamer for many years I’ve never tried anything like this. All comments and advice are welcome and on that note I’ll catch you all later. I am away to play some more XCOM 2.
If you want to watch my 1st hour of play then check out the youtube video below: