Darkest Dungeon is one of those games that I absolutely love and hate simultaneously. It’s maddening yet addictive all at once. And I never would have given it a look had it not been gifted to me by a friend to review and my life would have been lacking.
I’ll start by reiterating what the game flat out tells you from the start. You will die. You will die in numerous ways and you will die often. Even if you somehow manage to not die, you will fail and wonder why you even bothered, and then you’ll go right back to it and do it all over again. You will die the usual way; at the hand of monsters or murderous bandits, or you will die from a stress related heart attack (Yes, really. Three of my four man crew died from stress in one dungeon once.) Oh, and you’re only allowed a certain number of deaths (it varies depending on the difficulty you choose) so eventually you’ll fail completely. And then you’ll do it all over again because Darkest Dungeon hates you and you like that.
The other half of my love/hate relationship with Darkest Dungeon is in all the managing you do in between dungeons. It’s glorious management that lets you control damn near every aspect of your crew and it’s infuriating management because you have to manage every aspect of your crew. Upon returning from a dungeon, you have to spend the time and money healing the stress and afflictions of your people. You have to know which method of stress relief each person prefers too. Some just need a good ol meeting with a hooker at the brothel, while others need the relief of self-flagellation, prayer, or a stint at the sanitarium. You won’t always be able to afford to give everyone the treatment they need though, so you have to prioritize.
There’s also some team members that will refuse to work with other team members, such as my super churchy knight guy and my werewolf guy. Before going into a dungeon you need to buy provisions like food and torches and shovels, in order to give your people the best possible chance of surviving (don’t get me wrong, you’ll still die, but you’ll die knowing you spent hard earned coin on provisions that failed you in the end).
Another fun wrench in your winning plans, your team members can suffer afflictions after too much stress, which causes a variety of different issues, from them deciding to ignore your command and do what they want, to flat out refusing to do anything but stand there, to stealing your loot and keeping it for themselves. When one of your guys gets too stressed (indicated by the row of tiny white boxes underneath each person on the left) they’ll start talking to themselves, so don’t say they didn’t give you fair warning that they’re about to flake out on you.
Ok, enough about my feelings for the game, let’s get into accessibility:
Darkest Dungeon has just one major flaw. The entire opening cinematic is not subtitled and you don’t get the option to turn on subtitles until you arrive at the menu screen after the opening scene is finished. The opening scene fills you in on the entire premise of the game. However, as annoying as that is, knowing the story or not doesn’t make the game any more or less enjoyable. At least not for me. It’s the challenge that’s hooked me and that’s still just as intense whether or not you know why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Once you get to turn on the subtitles though, they’re great. Nice and big and easy to read. I should also note that I was told that in this game, deaf players have the advantage (and I agree completely). You see, the game presents you with some lengthy tool tips and for me, given the fact that I’m so infrequently given such in-depth text tool tips in games, I read every word of them, where hearing players are apparently prone to just skipping over long bits of text. There’s a lot of important info given in everything you’ll be presented with to read and skipping it does you a huge disservice.
All of the party banter is subtitled (like the snarky remark about my torch running low from one of my guys above).
And the battles are fully captioned with sound words and info like whether or not you dodged the attack. You’ll also clearly see how much damage you did or took.
All in all, once you get past the opening cinematic, Darkest Dungeon is fully accessible to deaf players. All the info you need to succeed (or not) in the game is presented to you in easy-to-read and in-depth text, and being a turn based game, the need for visual cues to save your butt during a fight aren’t necessary, but they’re there anyway. Do yourself a favor and get this game, so that you too can know the frustration of killing your whole team in a wave of stress induced heart attacks.
Fights are fully captioned
All dialogue is subtitled
Visual cues are plentiful and helpful
The opening cinematic that sets the stage for the whole game is not subtitled