It may take some time when the page for viewing is loaded for the first time...


cover-Darkest Dungeon II

Friday, June 30, 2023 4:23:42 PM

Darkest Dungeon II Review (Phranc)

If You Are New To This IP, Welcome, Enjoy The Delightful Suffering With Us.

If You Are Fan Of The First One, This Sequel Might Disappoint You.

To me Darkest Dungeon 2 is a mixed bag. I am a fan of the original one. The gruesome Gothic artstyle and the superb narration really encapsulate me. The stress and resolve system are both pain in the butt, but frustratingly addicting. It is quite a unique turn-based RPG experience. Now the sequel is out of early access and I jump right into it. Most of the mechanics remain the same, yet many of the features that make the first one stand out, are either lacking or simplified in the sequel. Maybe it is done so to appeal to a wider audience, or maybe the dev shift the focus to something else. I still find the game enjoyable, nonetheless. It's just that the sequel loses what makes the first one so unique.

Things I Like About Darkest Dungeon 2:

1. Art, Animation, And Music
(I think it's official to call the 3D sequel "Risk Of Rain 2 Treatment".)
I hesitant to call the art direction of Darkest Dungeon 2 "improvement" because the original 2D art has its charm. Yet I cannot deny the 3D environment with the same artstyle looks extra lively, the burning city, the swampy rain forest, the misty fishing hamlet, etc. I also like how beautifully animated everything is. From idle animation, to preparing a skill, to executing said skill, to finishing the move, the animation feels so fluent, friends or foes alike. And finally, the music. This, at least, I am confident to say that sequel surpass its predecessor. Something about the melody just sticks with me, even after I have beaten the game. I can still find myself humming the music of traveling stagecoach.
2. Hero Story
This one of the new features of the sequel. It basically is the background story of each character narrated by the one and only Wayne June, and adding some special turn-based fights between chapters. I especially adore the latter. In my opinion it's a great way to make the player feel the struggle of the characters in the significant event of their lives. Plus, after each chapter, the character who just reflects on the past will receive a new skill, and can be assigned immediately.
3. Revamped Hero Skill And Path
Most of the cast receives multiple skills over-haul or adding some interaction with other heroes, mainly the Combo Mark. Introducing combo adds an additional layer of thought when it comes to forming team comp. Hitting combo always comes with additional benefit, so it is crucial to choose at least two people to work together(usually one to mark enemy, the other reaping that mark). However, this is not set in stone. Each hero also provides with Path when you upgrade them in alter of hope. Path is alternative playstyle which when chosen, it alters certain skills to fit a specific playstyle. For example, Graverobber has three Path to choose. Deadeye makes her an insane range DPS; Venomdrop allows her to pierce Blight resistance and blight enemies more consistently; Nightsworn turns her intargetable all the while adding more damage and flexible position.
4. Other Compliments
→Ahh, Wayne June. Your godly narration shall echo forever in my head.
→Customizable stagecoach, both cosmetic and utility.
→Crushing debris on the road sometimes yield good result, making the controlling the stagecoach a mini game.
→The fact that any broken relationship can be fixed with excessive alcohol will never not be funny to me.

Things I Like And Dislike About Darkest Dungeon 2:

1. Instead Of Clones, Individuality Stands Out
The "Hiring" system in Darkest Dungeon 2 function as choose-your-fighters rather than that of the first one which is just picking from completely randomized clones.
Like: This design fleshes out each character as important individual with stories and motive, instead of random number generator. Shrine Of Reflection is an interesting way to tell those stories. It also makes building character's specialty less RNG-based.
Dislike: Because each character is one of a kind now, hilarious team compositions can no longer be achieved in Darkest Dungeon 2. No longer can you have dual Highwayman and keep spamming Duelist Advance. No longer can you have four evasive, repelling old men on the battle field.
2. Stress And Resolve
This system works more or less the same, but the result is different.
Like: Stressed-out and Resolution has been vastly tone-down to two results, Meltdown and Resolute. As a result, a stressed-out character will no longer speak death sentence to your team comp, and you have more time and opportunity to fix that problem.
Dislike: On the same note, having a Resolute character also has way less benefit to your team comp. You can no longer massively turn the tide of battle with one virtuous character. Another issue about simplifying virtue and affliction is that it removes a lot of painfully or amazingly special moment which makes the first game so iconic.

Things I Dislike About Darkest Dungeon 2:

1. The True Roguelike Experience
I don't think Darkest Dungeon, as a formula, work well with modern definition of "Roguelike", as in "getting slightly stronger after each encounter". Yes, you do become stronger after each region. You can get temporary buff through Inn items and upgrade your heroes' skills once with mastery points. That`s it. Other than skill upgrade, none of the buff you get is permanent. They will always disappear when you reach the next inn. As a result, it always feel like you are collecting enough resources to maintain those temporary strength, instead or slowly growing stronger. I bring this up mainly because Darkest Dungeon 2 in many ways, is trying to chase a lot of modern roguelike trends but still wants to keep the old formula which only works for relatively short, mission-based gameplay.
2. Other Complaints
→Icon and its explanation should be baked in to the UI instead of a separate note you can call out.
→One more full-fledged region would make multiple runs less repetitive.
→Maybe it's just me, but I feel like 80% of the bosses are DPS race.
→Where the hell is Reynauld?? What have you done to The Crudsader Red Hook??