Darkest Dungeon 2: Road of Ruin launched on Early access a few days ago, and I now I have an addiction. So I figured I should tell you what makes this game so awesome and worth playing.
You should also read this trailer analysis. Spoiler alert: I was wrong about most things.
How a sequel is made
Darkest Dungeon 2 has many differences from its predecessor, while the first game focused on management of the estate and exploration. Road of Ruin focuses on management of your party and decision making, the description of the game resumes perfectly what the game is.
Darkest Dungeon II is a roguelike road trip of the damnRed Hook
I got to compliment Red Hook for not going the safe route and delivering us the same game with just a few changes here and there, putting new characters and calling it a day. This is a new game that adds and improves in areas that the previous game already did good.
Similarities with first game
Art and animations improved a lot, from 2D skeletal animations we now have amazing 2.5D animations all around the game, it looks stunning and I would say beautiful if not for the creatures from hell that destroy my runs with 3 consecutive crits were also there.
Combat is still the same with a few differences. Heroes have 5 moves instead of 4 along with 1 battle object each for a total of 6.
Trinkets work the same way, but instead of a mix of better and worst stats, trinkets give better stats only. This on first glance seems like it affects the difficulty the previous game established but it does not show off, and the stat change is not as prominent as in the first.
Quirks also make a return and they are exactly the same, but instead of the limit of 5 now its 3.
Flame also returns but now instead of controlling the flame through torches, we keep up the flame through decisions at some points, if it reaches 0, tough enemies come to face the party, if you can fight them off they leave and restore some flame.
Ruin is all over the place
Instead of going through dungeons, we must ride a cart and make our way to the mountain, the source of all our problems, before commencing our adventure, first we form our party at “The Crossroads”.
This party will bear with each other all the trip, unlike previous game where we could arrange our party each dungeon. Each run of Darkest Dungeon 2 lasts around 5+ hours.
Before getting to the road, you have to prepare you characters at the inn, where you can spend the different points you get to gear up your heroes, cart and selecting the route to take, each with its own perils and rewards.
If you ever played Slay the Spire, Road of Ruin will be of your taste given the game follows the same way of managing progress. The player travels on a region that we know the layout of, but not all the dangers it has.
Instead of clicking the route we want to go as in Slay the Spire we must go through the road we want to take, and the road is not safe from danger either.
This world is dangerous all over the place, some points will have people with problems and its up to us what to do with them, there are lairs with bosses in them, places where heroes can get new abilities while getting to know their stories. It’s up to the player to plan the route accordingly so it’s the best possible, but there are a lot of things to consider.
Stress and Affinity
Stress was a important aspect on Darkest Dungeon and is just as important on Road of Ruin and just as dangerous, instead of 200 points of stress, the limit is 10, this makes stress a lot easier to take account of and affect hero behaviour.
At 4 stress, heroes get Irritated and start to fight with other members on the road, at 8 stress they are Roiling and start gaining stress on combat. Finally at 10 stress they have a Meltdown, losing a ton of health and negatively affecting affinity with the rest of the party as well as the chance to get a negative quirk, after that they restart their stress level.
Affinity is a new system where characters build relations, positive or negative, as you can guess this relations affect stress and heroes actions during combat. Depending on heroes relations and stress level heroes will talk on the road with positive or negative effects for their relation and stress.
When a pair of heroes get a certain amount of affinity they get into a relationship if its positive they help each other in combat and get bonuses, but if he opposite is true then they just fight nonstop at the road and in combat gaining stress faster and that can get to positive relations getting affected.
Death is not the end… kind of
So… what happens if all heroes die? You lose the game and have to start from the beggining, but don’t worry, the previous adventure was not in vain.
After a run is either completed, abandoned or failed, the player gets hope depending on progress made and levels up with that hope, this unlocks new heroes, trinkets, quirks and objects to diversify your next quest. As well some of the objects previously collected will be available for you to take on the next adventure.
This is just the beginning
Currently, Darkest Dungeon 2 only has one chapter out, 50 levels and 9 heroes available so it still has plenty to offer! Red Hook really did it with this one and we still have a long way to go before the darkest dungeon.