First Impressions – Darkest Dungeon

Noticing a surge of purchases on Steam I decided to join the crowd and give this game a look. With some of these early access top sellers there are more problems than positives and the game has little enjoyment to be had. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by this solid roguelike game.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign Darkest Dungeon was released as an early access game on Steam. It lacks game settings and there are some balance issues with the adventures and the gold gained.  At least I found this to be the case; though in retrospect it might be part of the random elements. Red Hook Studios have stated that “The early response has been beyond our wildest expectations” and with how great the game is, despite its quirks, it’s well deserved.

You must restore your families honour by hiring adventurers to delve into the depraved depths of your house. This is easier said than done. Indeed the game includes a warning of its difficulty and that states that yes, some of your people will die.

Darkest Dungeon Warning

It is difficult enough that they add a warning.

Will you run away from the dungeon to keep your people alive, or trade a life for the chance at greater loot?

As you can see from the included screenshots, it looks awesome. The dark tones mixed with the flashes of murky reds and shiny golds adds to the depressing atmosphere. This is amalgamated with epic music and sound effects that really hit the mark. For an early access game, they have hit the presentation hard and the pay off is great.

There are a lot of rules and mechanics to get your head round, but the tutorial does a decent enough job of getting you to grip with these. Although it is a bit of a stab in the dark when you are buying provisions for an adventure and it is possible to waste quite a bit of money of unnecessary items that are lost at the end. Which is one of my bugbears with the game. If a potion of disease removal is bought, do the characters just throw it away at the end? Perhaps it has a limited shelf life and becomes useless? A small annoyance that I understand for balance but hope to be changed in future.

Bottom line, should you give this game a look? For its low (in comparison to AAA titles) price and promise of more in the future it’s a no brainer. Buy it, enjoy its glorious art style and breath of fresh air difficult gameplay. For those of you that don’t like pre-ordering, know that there is a lot of content already and they have not announced any day one DLC or other annoyances.

We welcome any comments so leave them below!

Darkest Dungeon Introduction

The old owner of the house writing to you during the intro.

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First Impressions Planetary Annihilation

Planetary Annihilation is the spiritual successor to the Supreme Commander series; with many of game’s structural elements emulating its predecessor. Its grandiose description on Uber Entertainment website is as follows “RTS for the next generation – Colonise solar systems, smash entire worlds, and obliterate your foes in epic battles with multiple players and potentially thousands of units. Planetary Annihilation is a next generation RTS that takes the genre to a planetary scale.”

The above sounds amazing, so with the new Galactic War update and price reduction on Steam we thought we would give it a look.

Within the battles the gameplay is similar to the Supreme Commander series. You start with your commander unit, (which has a few cosmetic variants, some of which can be purchased), who then goes on to build your resource and unit creation buildings. The resource system is the same as well, with only the two to worry about, metal and energy. In their video tutorial it was called “streaming economy”, which is apt as when buildings or units are created it siphons some of your metal/energy towards its construction. If you do not have enough to build it at peak efficiency it will still slowly be built. You create your units (including more builders) from the various factories. With the possible factories including bots (fast land units), vehicles (heavier land units), Air (planes and things) and Naval (Boats).

The commander unit in Planetary Annihilation creating an energy collector.

My commander building an energy collector.

Where this game differs from Supreme Commander is that the map is on a planet and you can launch onto other planets within the system you are in. It is also at a much faster pace than Supreme Commander 2, which at times was incredibly slow. Although in our playthrough there was no need to attack and acquire other planets it is an intriguing concept. One that adds a new level of depth to this style of RTS and an increased difficulty that hopefully does not spiral out of control. It was slightly overwhelming at first with so much going on (and having an allied commander confusing me at the beginning), despite the tutorial video and my experience with Supreme Commander. If I did have to think about my base on two different planets it would have probably been my downfall. However, due to the Sub-Commander Tech acquired in the Galactic War galaxy map stage, I was able to muddle along whilst they did the brunt of the work.

Not knowing quite what the coloured squares meant, the choice seemed a bit arbitrary.

When starting battle on a planet, you are given a couple starting points.

What is this “Galactic War”? It is the new single player experience Uber Entertainment have recently released. You start by selecting your commander, (purely cosmetic to the best of my knowledge) and the loadout you wish them to have. The loadout I used was the basic vehicle option as all the others are apparently unlocked through playing. The next part is a galaxy map which gives you new systems to move to. Once there you scan the system for new technology (referred to in game as tech), which is either freely given or held by an opposing commander. The enemy has to be defeated to acquire the tech they are holding. These techs vary from a helpful sub-commander, who plays with you when you attack enemy planets, to increased armour for your various units.

I selected the chunky looking commander and basic loadout.

I selected the chunky looking commander and basic loadout.

Planetary Annihilation Galaxy Map

The galaxy map showing the options you have available to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another interesting mechanic is the System Creator which allows you to make and customise your own systems and planets. Not something I’m particularly interested in, but I’m sure some people will labour for hours creating the perfect systems, or ones which reflect those already in existence within our own galaxy. The amount of variants for the planets is impressive, with velocity, mass, amount of resources, the number of engines (which can move planets) amongst a huge wealth of other options.

The game is visually impressive and the art style works well with its theme of planetary destruction. It helps enhance the gameplay elements and it will be interesting to see what the next big update for the game will be.