Have you ever noticed while playing a horror game, that your character has the amazing ability to never freak out. While we’re hugging our blankies, he’s like ‘Sure, lets follow the creepy sound of children’s laughter. Oh, check that out, it’s a giant terrifying flesh beast from hell’.
A new video game, Darkest Dungeon by Red Hook Studios, is breaking the mould of endless violence and destruction with the Vancouver developers focusing on the heroes’ mental health and emotional well-being instead.
“A lot of games celebrate the heroic ideal and these aspirational qualities of being immutable and untouchable … But I feel like we pushed that envelope pretty far, and maybe there’s some interesting game play to be found on the other end of the spectrum.” -Chris Bourassa, Red Hook Studios co-founder and creative director of Darkest Dungeon.
In most video games, characters can be hurt or killed, but they rarely have any psychological damage as a result of all the death and destruction that surrounds them. We have seen past game touch this idea, such as in Amnesia: The Dark Decent. However, the ‘fear factor’ didn’t really affect the gameplay; this is the first time that we see it used as an integral part of the gaming experience.
Though it has some interesting art styles, Darkest Dungeon has a classic setup; a band of heroes questing through dungeons and fighting villains. However, the things they see and do affect them psychologically — sometimes with unpredictable results. The personality traits of the characters are permanently changed by their experience; it’s much like having active character development.
Characters can become paranoid, masochistic, and irrational and act differently as a result, forcing you to factor that into your game choices. You can relieve the stress for your character by going to church, a tavern, or by gambling and drinking.