Darkest Dungeon is a dungeon crawling game that forces players to take their heroes’ mental wellbeing into account.
“They get stressed, develop phobias, proclivities, and other emotional baggage,” explained the developer, Red Hook. “Their abilities evolve based on their experiences in the dungeons, and you must learn to lead them to victory in spite of their flaws.”
It’s an adventure game, featuring turn-based combat and peopled with characters who respond emotionally to these encounters. The overarching purpose of the game is to free your ancestral home from the grip of an ancient evil.
When a hero reaches breaking point they respond by developing conditions like paranoia or panic. One of the examples the team gives is the Man-At-Arms whose stress leads to an over-reliance on alcohol. Powerful, but increasingly erratic attacks, are the result.
It’s not exactly an exploration of psychological conditions, but more a selection of extra considerations that impacts playing choices. There are elements of Zafehouse Diaries, where you must manage team compositions in accordance with fears and prejudices; and of games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, where you must keep a grip on your character’s sanity as it alters in response to your game behaviour.
The game has been in development for nine months already but, to equate game conceit with reality, Red Hook turned to Kickstarter for $75,000 (£45,000) to alleviate financial and emotional stress for the team. The game has now met that target so any further donations will go towards the numerous stretch goals which seek to expand the game.
The projected released date for Darkest Dungeon on PC and Mac is currently January 2015.
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