Darkest Dungeon is a fairly complex game. It is not as easy to dive into for a newcomer as it is for an experienced player, so the prospects of a Switch port were fairly interesting. The game is out on a wide variety of platforms by now including the PS Vita if you are craving for portability, so the Switch release is interesting in that sense that it is a hybrid platform and also offers touch controls, which can be essential in providing a good experience in Darkest Dungeon.
The first thing that you will immediately notice once you start the game is the overly dark atmosphere and tone that the game carries throughout the main quest. The art style also aims to convey the same feeling of dread and dystopia. It is a heroic adventure but with dangers across every corner and one simple mistake can make you lose your progress, or in turn, your favorite character. Yes, Darkest Dungeon works on the basis of the permanent death mechanic where you are free to recruit heroes for taking them along into dungeons, however if they die, that’s it for them. This mechanic lets you focus on the preparation before you start a dungeon run so to make sure you survive through the worst of it.
Darkest Dungeon is not just a simple turn-based RPG, it also deals with the effects of doing the battles and dealing with the experience for each hero. You will be essentially taking care of their mental as well as physical health as you will make your way to the countless dungeons offered by the game. There is no narrative based linear approach to gameplay here, and instead, the choice of exploration relies on the decisions that you will make. There are a set of objectives that you can attempt to fulfill and exploring the dungeons and finishing them can also unlock new locations in the town, which acts as the main hub between your journey to the darkest dungeons.
The game begins in a town where each of the major location is initially locked. They will gradually open up as you clear more of the dungeons and complete your objectives. You have a party of 4 heroes that you are able to take in a dungeon, however you will also have to make sure that you are not simply wasting your time with them. Just like Dark Souls, you can lose your important valuables if a party member dies, so making sure they survive, not just from physical harm, but from stress and other mental health issues, should remain your top priority.
The game relies on Affliction System to deal with the mental stress for the heroes. You can attempt to calm them down by placing them in locations like a church, bar or even brothel. This will require you to spend some time of money and the characters won’t be available for a specified amount of time, but atleast you can be sure that they will be mentally prepared for battle the next time around.
Speaking of the combat and exploration, it is an entirely turn-based system while the exploration in dungeon is side-scrolling experience. During the exploration, you can have an idea of the dungeon layout through the map and will be offered multiple branching paths. Depending on the direction you take in a dungeon, you can either end up next to a trap or get some nice treasure along the way. It is a system that works well here if you like the randomness of it.
There are a grand total of 16 playable character classes and aside from your standard Warriors and Healers, you can also get some unique class types like the Leper, Plague Doctor and Hellion. The stats that you can get at the time of recruitment are randomly generated so make sure to keep this in mind when deciding which character keep in your party. You can level them up and get them a good equipment but if they die in battle, you will lose your progress and the time that you wasted on them, so it is best to just not over invest in a particular character, and instead keep a steady number of decent characters.
Darkest Dungeon on the Nintendo Switch offers touch screen controls which can be the ideal way to play in the start because of the confusing UI and button layout. Touch controls make it easier to do most of the tasks that might require you a few button presses and short cuts. The Switch port looks great in portable mode while it might not be as crisp and clear on the big screen when playing on docked mode, but it doesn’t look as bad either. The art style helps in avoiding the low resolution look of the game.
Darkest Dungeon Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Recruit, train, and lead a team of flawed heroes through twisted forests, forgotten warrens, ruined crypts, and beyond. You'll battle not only unimaginable foes, but stress, famine, disease, and the ever-encroaching dark. Uncover strange mysteries, and pit the heroes against an array of fearsome monsters with an innovative strategic turn-based combat system.
Another indie hit that has managed the transition very well to the Nintendo Switch. A good turn-based RPG that is not as easy to get into in the start but grows on you with time.