Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Court PC Review

The Crimson Court is an excellent, fairly priced addition to an already brilliant game.

By Woozie, Posted 29 Jun 2017

Making my way towards the Darkest Dungeon saw many of my characters go insane, maim themselves to death or get obliterated by the countless horrors that paved the way. In between its excellently dreary atmosphere and great class design, there are many more things that contributed to Darkest Dungeon being one of our best games of 2016. Red Hook Studios have kept busy with various updates, the most significant of which is, perhaps, the addition of the shorter Radiant Mode. As of last week, the game has received its first DLC, in the form of The Crimson Court, giving dungeon delvers more reasons to go back and have an absolutely wonderful and relaxing time pull what little hair remained out.

Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Curse, Screenshot, PC, Review

Stylistically, the Crimson Court takes a slightly different approach, however, without falling out of the game’s general aesthetic. Now, the past years have made me be skeptical whenever I see something remotely vampiric being added to my media of choice. The DLC does center around blood and those who would suck, or otherwise consume it. Instead of being predictable, the new monsters represent quite a unique, successful spin on what could have otherwise been some more of Dracula’s boring cousins. It won’t be long until you’ll start despising mosquitoes even more and, as for the new bosses, they’re a great mixture of alluring and appalling. It’s worth mentioning that Wayne June returns to voice some nifty cutscenes and a handful of new interactions. Thus, in terms of art, The Crimson Court is a great addition to what the base game has to offer.

This naturally extends to the Courtyard, which acts as a new area. Departing from most of the game’s levels, the Courtyard comes with longer, hand-crafted levels. Given their length, the game is very forward in letting you know that you’re not expected to finish them in one go. Retreating does incur the expected stress penalty, however, the progress is saved, meaning your heroes don’t have to constantly plough through the same rooms over and over again. On top of that, they can have fairly efficient stress relief mechanics while firewood can also be found, enabling camping inside them, all up to RNG, of course. Torches increase accuracy during fights in this area but otherwise Bloodlight is constant, slightly increasing incurred stress and reducing bleeding resistance. Then, players can rescue imprisoned heroes granting additions to their roster.

Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Curse, Screenshot, PC, Review

The Crimson Court can be activated on older saves, in its entirety or just specific parts of it, but expecting to spend all your time in the new dungeons is not something you want to do. This is because entry to the Courtyard is only possible once you’ve obtained an invitation. After completing the very first Courtyard mission, bloodsuckers will begin to show up in regular dungeons. The likelihood of encountering them while doing old content can be tracked based on Infestation levels. Apart from bringing the entire process of discovery back, which expands to the new curios in the Courtyard, some of these monsters will carry an invitation. Killing the carrier before it flees will transfer the invitation to your inventory, provided you complete the run (or retreat with some of your heroes alive). Especially during runs while the Infestation level was high, I found myself getting more than enough invitations. They are, however, not the only thing these new denizens bring.

The new foes do not only drink your blood. They make your characters potentially want to drink it themselves. The Crimson Curse can be imparted by these new enemies, which is why you’ll grow to despise even the simplest mosquito very early on. Being incurable through means available in the Hamlet, you’ll have to quench the thirst of those afflicted with Blood. This is a new type of consumable that drops mostly from the new foes, but can also be found essentially anywhere (with a higher chance of finding it in the Courtyard). The Crimson Curse acts as a debuff which worsens over time provided the hero isn’t fed enough blood. The DLC introduces some items which synergize with advanced states of craving, but keeping your heroes without blood will eventually lead to their death. Giving them a constant supply has a chance of turning the slight debuff into a damage, speed and resistance buff for a period of time, as they gain bloodlust. So, keeping true to the Darkest Dungeon credo, bad things can have good results, if only for a short while. In the first few days after launch, blood drop rates were exceedingly low, which did give a feeling of it being perhaps a little too unfair. The drop rates have since been increased, however, managing your cursed heroes carefully is still necessary.

Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Curse, Screenshot, PC, Review

The idea behind this curse is exactly that of not being able to prepare for it too reliably. If blight, diseases and bleeding can be cured with consumables, you have to hope you get enough blood during high Infestations or Courtyard mission. Furthermore, the cursed heroes will, naturally, require rest to relieve stress or get rid of quirks, which means you’ll have to send uncursed heroes out there. This mechanic adds to Darkest Dungeon’s unpredictability, making it so that going for that one extra battle after you’ve completed your objective can mean the difference between going back with only a certain amount of stress and going back with two heroes that have the Crimson Curse (and I’m talking from experience). One thing to be kept in mind is that having a cursed hero alongside non-cursed heroes in the same building, or even worse, in the same activity means that the hero without a craving for the red stuff may end up getting it. Keeping this in mind, it’s worth saying that if you think Darkest Dungeon is difficult enough as is, The Crimson Court will only make it worse for you (but that’s good, isn’t it? :P)

The new set of items can be quite powerful, offering bonuses that, as I’ve said, synergize with the Crimson Curse, or offer buffs against bloodsuckers and the Fanatic. Who might this Fanatic be? Well, he’s quite a swell guy that used to one-shot your heroes. Admittedly overlooked by the developers, that has since been patched and the guy now takes some time before wiping out your party. Neat, isn’t it? Jokes aside, the Fanatic is a wandering boss that begins hunting your heroes after a number of them get the Crimson Curse. Thematically, he’s all about cleansing stuff and he really likes fire, so you may end up looking at one of your heroes getting roasted on a pyre while fighting him. When there’s a chance of encountering him in a dungeon, a special loading screen pops up, giving you plenty of time to think about what you’ve done.

Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Curse, Screenshot, PC, Review

To help combat, erm, all those things, players receive a new hero class, namely, the Flagellant. Thematically, Red Hook Studios have nailed things again. Wielding a three ball flail and facing foes bare-chested, the Flagellant is good both for dealing damage, applying bleeding debuffs and, perhaps surprisingly, healing both himself and others. Furthermore, the only way he’ll relieve stress is through physical punishment. I grew fond quite quickly both of the character’s appearance and of how he plays. Neither a universal tool, nor a one trick pony, the Flagellant finds his place in the right scenarios. All that’s left is for players to discover them. It’s also worth mentioning that Horror, that debuff which gives x amount of stress per turn, is part of more creatures’ arsenal now. To combat it, a new consumable, Laudanum, was introduced.

Lastly, the Hamlet received a handful of expansion possibilities with the addition of Districts. These are buildings that require a high amount of resources and blueprints, a new type of currency that drops from bosses, in order to be built. Upon completion, they provide different bonuses. These range from stat increases to certain classes, to a certain amount of food or blood being available every week, or better torchlight. Considering the amount of resources it takes to build them, they’re most likely meant as a late game option, especially seeing how upgrading at least some buildings that are already in the Hamlet tends to be a better choice early on. However, if you’re low on blood and you want to build the Sanguine Vintners for a guaranteed 2 blood a week, nothing’s stopping you from grinding missions that give the required heirlooms. Well, nothing, aside from everything that’s out there.

Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Court, Screenshot, PC, Review

The Crimson Court enriches the game’s aesthetics with its fairly original take on the new, vampiric additions. The Crimson Curse adds another layer of unpredictability, requiring players to work around a mechanic that cannot be avoided. The new area and enemies refresh the sense of risk attached to discovering new abilities and curio interactions, while the bosses and the Flagellant are sure to stay in one’s memory after encountering them. If you dislike Darkest Dungeon’s heavy reliance on RNG, the difficulty it brings or the grind associated with the title, The Crimson Court won’t change your mind about it. If, however, you look back to the hours spent in the title’s company both with horror but also adoration, the DLC is an excellent, fairly priced addition to an already brilliant game.

Darkest Dungeon Review

Bogdan Robert, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Red Hook Studios
Developer(s): Red Hook Studios
Genres: RPG, Dungeon Crawler
Themes: Lovecraftian, Turn-based
Release Date: 2017-06-19

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