Madness Awaits You…In the Darkest Dungeon

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Madness Awaits You…In the Darkest Dungeon
Madness Awaits You…In the Darkest Dungeon

Greetings from the Abyss! We are Red Hook Studios, an independent 5-person team working out of Vancouver, BC, Canada.

We’re all big fans of the dungeon crawling genre here, going all the way back to classics like Bard’s Tale and Eye of the Beholder (1 &2!). We decided we wanted to honor that lineage and make an RPG in the classic vein. However, we also wanted to do something different at the same time. Something unique and challenging in its own way. Something memorable.

Then it hit us: Stress.

We all experience it, especially those in particularly grueling circumstances. Like being 500 feet underground and running out of food, fighting horrific monsters, surrounded by all kinds of unnameable awfulness, for instance. It turns out, being a dungeon delver is rather a rough job.

Darkest Dungeon PSX


Stress is a central mechanic in Darkest Dungeon – everything your heroes see, do and have done to them affects their stress levels, both positively and negatively. Land a big crit? Everyone cheers up a bit. Watch a fellow adventurer get rabies from a feral dog bite? Not so cheery.

As an adventure goes on, heroes will get increasingly unnerved by what they’ve experienced. Once they hit their maximum stress capacity, they’ll roll an ‘Affliction Check’ – success enters them into a heroic state, inspiring allies, and bolstering their abilities. Much more likely however, they will fall victim to their stress and become branded with an Affliction – the moniker for a family of stress-driven behavior – such as Hopelessness or Masochism, Abusiveness, Irrationality, etc.

Afflicted characters are like loaded guns, you never know when they’ll go off! They will periodically ‘act out’, taking an action on their own imperative. A Masochist might advance in combat, eager to have their blood spilled, or they may refuse to be healed, fascinated with their own wounds. Conversely, watch for a Selfish character to retreat in a fight, use supplies unnecessarily, or even steal from the party’s gold!

Bottom line, as your heroes lose their grip, you as the player lose your grip on them! We think it’s an exciting, unpredictable element that challenges players to make the best of an imperfect situation. Can you succeed even when the party is fracturing?

Darkest Dungeon PSX

Heroes will also develop a variety of long-lasting “quirks” as a result of their experiences. These can be good and bad – wandering around with no torchlight might grant a hero ‘night-vision’, improving his combat effectiveness in low light, whereas another may become ‘afraid of the dark’, and suffer diminished stress resilience in the shadows. Quirks are an important part of the game – the right collection on a particular character class can turn them into a hard-hitting powerhouse, or a whimpering husk.


Darkest Dungeon PSX

So you managed to survive your most recent quest? Maybe you brought back three of your four heroes – not bad at all! Trouble is, one is paranoid, the other is abusive, and the third is teetering on the edge of insanity. Sending this simpering lot back out into the wild would be a huge mistake. It’s time for some R&R.

The loot and family heirlooms you collect on quests are used to upgrade your home base – a small, squalid hamlet bordering a moor. Over time, you will restore and expand it, opening buildings like the Guild and Blacksmith, which allow hero upgrading. Most importantly, however, the town allows you to bench stressed-out heroes in a variety of stress reduction activities – drinking, gambling, praying, and flagellation, among others.

Darkest Dungeon PSX

When you return from your next quest, these heroes will be back to their old selves, and ready for action. True to the spirit of the game, however, their time in ‘treatment’ can affect them with a host of personality quirks – your Grave Robber may get banned from the Gambling Hall for cheating, meaning she can never return there. Conversely, your Crusader may go on a bender, refusing to leave the bar in time for the next expedition!

Unpredictability is a hallmark of the Darkest Dungeon experience, and how you cope with unforeseen events will be the measure of your success.


Darkest Dungeon asks a lot from its players, and the heroes they command. It will challenge you to think like a sports coach, or a field commander. Guiding a roster of fallible, stressed-out adventurers is tough work, let alone reclaiming your ancestral estate from the clutches of a timeless evil. Heroes will get injured, stressed, and even die. It is an uncompromising experience that will not coddle you – the game saves all the time, and death is permanent, so your decisions really do matter.

Darkest Dungeon features a powerhouse soundtrack by Stuart Chatwood, chilling narration by Wayne June, and profoundly unsettling sound design by Power Up Audio. It will be available in 2015 on PS4 and PS Vita – stay tuned to this blog, our website, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter feeds for the latest news!
Want to know more? Post your questions in the comments!

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1 Author Reply

  • I can’t tell you how happy this announcement makes me. Ever since Darkest Dungeon’s Kickstarter I’ve been fantasizing about having it on my Vita… this is a dream come true.

    Red Hook? Thank you so much.

    Sony? Thank you so much.

  • Looks interesting, I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for it!

  • This game looks really neat. Thank you for bringing it to Vita!

  • Thanks for checking it out guys – we’re thrilled to be coming to Playstation!

  • Love the art design. Can’t wait to se more.

  • Looks fun. Will look into the Vita version.

  • Very cool will be grabbing that vita version.

  • This game sounds really cool, looking forward to it!

  • Imagine my surprise when I scroll to the end of the blog post and see that this game is also coming to Vita. I am beyond thrilled to have a western RPG coming to my favorite handheld. There was a ton of good news for Vita owners this weekend, but this bit may have been my favorite. Thanks Red Hook and Sony!

    Follow me on Twitter: @brg_esq
    Friend me on PSN: GStylez1980

  • The art design looks great, I bet it’ll really stand out on the Vita. Not to mention that it being a dungeon crawling game automatically puts it on my list of things to look forward to.

  • This deserves a physical retail. Shame on you, SONY.

  • I came across this game on the show room floor at PAX Prime. I’m not sure what pulled me in to this game, but I’m glad I listened to their elevator pitch. This was hands down the best idea for an indie title that I came across at PAX Prime. I asked him if they were planning on going to consoles, which he replied “nothing at this moment”. I told all my gaming friends about this game, and pre-ordered the game on steam. I’m glad to see that Sony has worked out a deal with them and to see it come to the Sony platform. Can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  • This is such a great concept. i have always wondered how the adventuring life would have on an everyday person. it’s great that all the people in the party can get there own self affliction. It makes all adventure games want to take a second and look at this game. I can’t wait to play this.

  • Awesome. Now, is it a separate Vita download, or one of those games that’s PS4 and streams onto the Vita? I’d prefer the latter, as I’ve yet to buy a PS4 (hey, money isn’t cheap, ha and ha). Well, this is one of those games that will get me wanting to buy a new console, so I guess it’s good to get that kick in the pants every so often.

    That said, the kicking is getting old with all these cool titles coming out. Stop it, already! Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. :D

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