Hands-on with Darkest Dungeon, the best game I played at PAX East 2014

Evan Lahti

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PAX East 's designated indie games fiefdom was, unsurprisingly, overflowing with interesting projects. Secret Ponchos . Gods Will Be Watching . Subnautica . Not A Hero . Below . Many of the other games on display were known quantities that we'd either played previously or are playable now in a pre-release form. The one that stuck with me most was Darkest Dungeon , a roguelike that had somehow slipped through my sensor array.

Among the legitimate pile of roguelikes available in 2014, Darkest Dungeon's point of distinction is the way it makes mental health a gameplay mechanic. Characters accumulate stress through battle and other encounters, which then takes the form of character traits. “Left untended, these stresses can manifest in a variety of behaviors that create gameplay challenges (anger, paranoia, depression, sadism, and more). How you manage your heroes through these stresses is an integral part of the game,” the FAQ reads .

The look of the game suits its theme, too: I love the groundedness that Darkest Dungeon's gloomy, low-fantasy art brings it, and I'm curious to see how the gear and party management aspects of the game mesh with its campaign structure. We'll continue to follow the game closely leading up to its release; Red Hook Studios completed a successful Kickstarter for Darkest Dungeon on March 13.

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