I have played a lot of Darkest Dungeon, a game which runs on simple combat that somehow stays fun for an extremely long amount of time. It’s amazing how refined this game is. The developers really took the time to properly balance the game off of user feedback. Another reason why the game is so well developed is its ability to mix together a large portion of simplistic mechanics to create a higher level of immersion and challenge, utilizing health/sanity management, town management, item management and more. Graphically, the game isn’t groundbreaking, but it has a very unique style to it that further immerses the player into its grim world. The game also achieves a sort of emotional attachment to characters that few other games manage to achieve, doing it through normal means as dialogue, but also making a permadeath system that makes the player fear for their character’s safety.
Darkest Dungeon is a turn-based strategy game with rogue-like elements. The central game mechanic is to send adventurers with different stats and abilities into dungeons which have some objective that is required in order to successfully finish the dungeon. It can be collecting a quest item, applying a quest item to particular quest spots, going through a percentage of the rooms, killing a boss, or killing all monsters within rooms (though not necessarily the ones in the hallways). In normal dungeons, you can leave the dungeon at any time, but you are slightly punished for doing so along with a more damaging consequences of not increasing your adventurer’s xp and not giving you any of the bonus items. Once you finish a dungeon run, you are returned to the hamlet so that you can refresh your adventurers, upgrade them, recruit more, buy magic items, or upgrade the buildings themselves that do all these things. Eventually, you work your way up to the Darkest Dungeon, a series of high level dungeons that you cannot retreat from without losing a character, noting that character lost is essentially always permanent.
I have little to no issues with the game. It does what it does in what could possibly be the best way possible. However, that doesn’t keep me from wishing for a game with a different but similar vision. Most of all, the threat of losing adventurers in endgame is very low and defeats some of the peril that I had when first starting out. However, it makes sense why the developers made it this way, considering how long it takes to make up for a lost high-level adventurer.
Another game could be somehow made to maintain enough of a sense of leveling and attachment, but also profit significantly more off of that attachment by causing the player to experience that sense of loss more often, further granting the player a sense of peril.
Again, I think Darkest Dungeon is a fantastic game. It really does give me that sense of peril, a fear that I might lose that character I spent so many hours with delving into perilous dungeons. I just wish I had more of that sense of peril, something that I probably haven’t been able to experience anywhere else. It’s such a clean and well designed game that I look up to the developers as something I would want to someday be.