Hello Gamers! this is @tsukuyomi once again and today I'll review the newest DLC for the popular indie game Darkest Dungeon called The Color of Madness.
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Alright, let's go!
Darkest Dungeon: The Color of Madness DLC, faster pace, more madness.
Ever since Darkest Dungeon was released in 2016, reviews and reception have praised the game for its nerve-wracking mechanics, interesting plots and gorgeous and immersive art style. Metacritic gave it an 84% score, and IGN gave it a 9.1 out of 10, and I agree with these scores, if anything, I would give Darkest Dungeon a 10 because ever since release, its game style, its art and voice acting, everything makes me have endless hours of masochistic fun that I can't get enough of, so let's go deeper and analyze this game to its core and what the DLC brings with it:
Darkest Dungeon is a game that combines several elements that are common to Dungeon-Crawlers and adds a few other things to make things more interesting and difficult, you have a party of Heroes, all unique and subject to perma-death, the combat is turn-based, there are different classes, each with a set of skills to use in battle, they level up and develop positive and negative traits along their journeys. Progression is divided by Adventures and there is loot and items with rarity ranks.
Got all the basics? Ok, let's continue...
If you have tried Darkest Dungeon before you might know its famed stress-meter system, it's the main mechanic other than the turns. Stress decides whether your heroes become afflicted and developes a negative state (Masochist, Hopeless, Abusive...) or Virtuous and develops a positive one (Stalwart, Courageous, Focused...), also Stress can continue to stack up depending on battles and encounters and reach a breaking point in which Heroes can die of heart attacks.
Now that the basic gameplay is covered let's move on to The Color of Madness and how it affects it.
As I stated before, progress is achieved by embarking on adventures, however the strong point of Color of Madness is the continuous wave of monsters you need to defeat to earn milestones, and if those milestones are not met, you go back to the hamlet empty handed, which puts a kind of pressure that goes beyond the usual pressure of not dying, choosing your party well, and even having heroes to choose from since heroes spend most of their times recovering from illnesses, lowering their stress or running away for a while.
Defeating monsters give you crystal, and with them you get to buy powerful items and build very useful buildings (called districts) to further your experience withing the game, effectively expanding the once constricting feeling of everything being confined to Dungeons and some safe buildings. Darkest dungeon has always done a good job making you feel like there's no escape from doom and it's either Adventuring, which is stressful, and being at the Hamlet, safer, but not any less eerie.
Also, the monsters you will encounter cannot just be killed and get done with, corpses that are not handled will become sources of *terror a guaranteed source of stress that can only be maimed by an item that you don't get unlimited access to. The big issue with this is that most times you will need your turns to their last bit, and clearing corpses is not an easy task for most champions. Having to decide how to use your turns gets a heightened stressful quality on you, the player, who has to choose wisely and will have to face mistakes very harshly.
There's one good thing, though. Since the Color of Madness continuous spawning mode is devoid of time per se, it's possible to retreat without penalties. Whoever has faced the death of heroes out of refusal to retire or out of stress because of retiring will understand how much of a gift that is. Another thing to point out is the new exclusive Quirks from the DLC, Prismatic Quirks are very powerful but are limited to one of each in the entire hero roster. They can only be obtained by defeating The Thing From The Stars a DLC boss that can be found in any section available for adventure.
Setting and Graphics and Sound
Darkest Dungeons is a very rich and detailed game with an amount of care for visuals that is truly outstanding, the ambiance is pressing and heavy, illustrations are refined to the point of making the game gorgeous and breathtaking, colors are handled carefully and placed precicesly so nothing seems out of place.
Something I enjoy about this game is how it creates worlds within worlds, every section that you can venture into ties all elements together to create a definitive and concise look and feel. The Cove is cool-toned, with a heavy Sea/Underwater theme that can't be confused, monsters are all themed and mesh with the background as if the Cove, instead of a part of the game, is a game itself. The same happens with every section, the design is compelling and gut-wrenching, specially in places like those featured in the first DLC: Crimsom Court, which brings us to Color of Madness.
If you didn't know by now, I'll tell you, the Color of Madness is Turquoise, it's very apparent, persistent and also happens to be my favorite color. Pairing the concept of Madness with this color is another genius move from the Devs, because if you asked people which color they would give to Madness, very few would say Turquoise, but they did it and they made it work astoundingly. The same way they presented a Blood-themed DLC, Crimsom Court, and it turned out to be a pairing of French Court lavishness and debauchery and Mosquitoes. The design team on this game dares, goes for it and accomplishes it masterfully.
The Color of Madness is no different, in fact, you can see a design team that commited to the color of madness as a concept, because while in the Farmstead, where it takes place everything is Turquoise and all monsters are mutations of what you might find in a farm, consumed by Madness itself. As a graphic designer, this satisfies me on so many mental levels, I have to give props for the commitment.
All of this going on and being narrated by the incredible voice actor Wayne June, who elevates Darkest Dungeon to otherwordly levels of good game -making, and the forever pressing and rushing music and sound effects that bring adventures to life-like experiences... Truly amazing.
As I already explained, Darkest Dungeon, instead of simple stages, it has worlds, contained yet sprawling within themselves, they don't necessarily tie in together, rather, they exist on their own. This gives developers and designers and everyone involved freedom to explore concepts without the hassle of forcibly making them make sense, in here everything makes sense once you enter a place.
The Color of Madness plot is none other than an infestation of, well, you know, Madness, that took over the Farmstead, and it came on a Comet that crashed in it. As if things could not get any worse for the estate. Not only it infested the farm workers and their animals, it also brought with it the afore mentioned Thing From the Stars, that is not confined to the Farmstead and roams the state with a random chance of appearing... Whether you're ready or not.
People from far lands have also taken interest in the Comet, which is why a crystal merchant will be over at the estate, investigating and trading in valuables for the strange energy.
The Color of Madness DLC is a great addition to all the previous insanity that takes place in Darkest Dungeon. Its new game mode is much more fast-paced and challenging, and new priorities take place as the mental endurance of your heroes is paramount. The design is impeccable and the work that was put into this DLC is admirable. If Darkest Dungeon is in for more content like that, its epicness and place within top games will only go upwards.
And that's it! I hope you enjoyed my opinions on this game that I love playing so much! Thank you very much for reading, I'll see you next with the news!
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