Darkest Dungeon's DLC Adds More Awesome Bad Times For Your Party

The new Darkest Dungeon DLC, The Crimson Court, tacks a couple more stressful mechanics on top of an already stressful game. I love it.

Darkest Dungeon is a game about losing — you will lose all your party members as they explore dungeons, they will all lose their sanity, and you will lose the game. Despite being unrelentingly oppressive, it's a fun time. If you've ever thumbed through a Lovecraft short story, it's kind of like that, minus the racism. Wanna see the lowest depths of humanity? Watch as unspeakable monsters tear through your party after a main healer becomes a kleptomaniac, opens a trapped treasure chest, and dies.

The Crimson Court launched yesterday for PC and Mac, with a PS4 and Vita version to come. It adds a new character class, monsters and a creepy new area, but it's most brilliant addition is the new Crimson Curse. It's a kind of vampirism — in the new Courtyard area, your explorers can be bitten by monstrous mosquitoes who can give them this Curse. It can't be cured in the Sanitarium, and must be sated by The Blood. If they're thirsting for Blood, it will bring them down to normal. You can also give them Blood at other times, which will give them Bloodlust: A huge stat boost that also raises everyone else's stress levels. The first event in the Courtyard also makes stress-reducing buildings such as the Tavern and the Abbey less effective until you complete it, so inevitably a good third of your party will succumb to The Curse. The Blood is also very rare, meaning that you'll be managing thirst for it on top of stress. Characters with the Crimson Curse who actively need The Blood will have a status debuff, so bringing them along will be liability, even if they're low stress.

The Crimson Court's new character class, the Flagellant, is interesting if a bit overcomplicated. Flagellants can transfer status effects such as poison onto themselves from other party members, and most of their abilities will inflict bleed on themselves or the enemy. While they won't ever gain positive attributes from having their resolve tested, they do enter a state called "Rapturous" that appears to give them an attack buff. The hard part is managing the fact that this means your Flagellant will be bleeding to death all the time. If one of those is in your party, it's going to take up a lot of your attention. Although I find these new mechanics fun, I can't justify how much work the Flagellant adds to my party.

If anything, The Crimson Court gets you to the weird aspects of Darkest Dungeon even faster. Before you know it, everyone is breaking from stress and your Jester is a nymphomaniac, just because you had to send him into the Ruins even though he was thirsting for The Blood. This game is at its best when you use it as a tool to tell strange stories — The Crimson Court only makes them stranger.


    Must finish on Vita. Will reinstall tonight with Salt and Sanctuary for maximum punishment.

      I liked both of these games for a little while, but they both just got to be too much - I just ended up not enjoying them. The first 2 hours or so with each was the best, then it was all downhill from there.

        It's been a while since I last played, but Darkest Dungeon is easily one of the most disgusting examples I've ever seen a massive grind for virtually no reason beyond padding play time.

        So unless it's changed, which I highly doubt, I don't think I'd ever go back.

          I think I like the idea of Darkest Dungeon more than the actual game.

          This is precisely why I stopped playing some 40-50 hours in. I was only just starting to fight the third-tier bosses and realised they were basically the same as their first and second tier counterparts and i was being forced to grind grind grind away in between these samey boss fights to replace dead guys or fix afflictions everyone kept picking up.

          However I did read something in some patch notes a while back about them adding an option to cut down the gold requirements or something similar to significantly reduce grind. I will likely start a new game whenever I get around to buying this DLC and will absolutely have that option turned on!

        Slaves to the hard mode. I think their intended audience was Spelunky players looking for a different theme.

        So many roguelikes seem to focus - to an unhealthy degree - on forcing players into a low-investment-per-playthrough re-rolling mindset, where luck is the only determining factor in advancement. They seem to want you to roll the dice more often, rather than make the rolling have better odds.

        If I were a cynic, I'd say it's because they know there's not actually that much to their game if you aren't forced to repeat the content due to death.

        I can't truck with that mindset, which means that like you, I enjoy the IDEA of Darkest Dungeon a hell of a lot more than its implementation. The author says:
        Darkest Dungeon is a game about losing — you will lose all your party members as they explore dungeons, they will all lose their sanity, and you will lose the game. Despite being unrelentingly oppressive, it's a fun time.

        Where the author and I differ is that I don't consider the losing to be all that much fun. It's almost always cheap and most often just feels unfair, in ways that other 'hard' games (like Dark Souls) don't.

          The difference is that I LOVE Spelunky even though I suck at it.

          Probably because each run is self contained - it's not like I'm spending time developing a character just to see him get wiped out. I die, I restart and I haven't really lost anything. And the basic gameplay loop is more fun - just that simple platforming / combat stuff works well, but there's also depth there that you're free to choose just how deeply into it you want to delve.

          I'm with you. I like the idea of Darkest Dungeon, but the reality of it is a game that masks lack of depth with punishing difficulty. It's challenging to make a difficult game that doesn't also demoralise the player, there's a very fine line between feeling like they're slowly but steadily improving and feeling like they're being unfairly punished.

          Darkest Dungeon is in the latter camp. And it wasn't always that way, earlier in the development cycle the game had a mostly reasonable difficulty curve. Then they decided it was too easy, I guess.

            I think it's one of the pitfalls of a prolonged Early Access. Developers listen to their community, who by the point of actual release are now seasoned veterans with years of experience if not mastery of all mechanics. It means they design a game for an echo chamber of hardened vets, leaving it utterly impenetrable to newcomers.

              Yep. It happens to a lot of titles with early access or long open betas, unfortunately. It's important when you're doing prerelease balance testing to make sure you're getting fresh faces in as well as the veterans, and listen to them both.

    > If you've ever thumbed through a Lovecraft short story, it's kind of like that, minus the racism.

    So, fundamentally unchanged, apart from maybe a couple of word substitutions?

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