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Darkest Dungeon 2 early access impressions: Hope burns bright

Darkest Dungeon 2 is hitting all the right roguelike notes while adding to and improving the experience of the original with new mechanics and visuals.


Darkest Dungeon started out as a small Kickstarter back in 2014 and now, some seven years later, it is a critically acclaimed title with a sequel in early access. We recently went hands-on with the early access version of Darkest Dungeon 2 and he has a whole lot of positive words to say about what Red Hook Studios has managed to accomplish. Check out the video below for our thorough overview.

While a lot of what made Darkest Dungeon so popular remains, there are a host of improvements and new features that really lift the sequel to new heights. One of the first things users will notice is the slight change to the character models. While the overall art style and theme remains the same, characters are now full 3D models. This adds another layer of depth to the visual storytelling without interfering with the game’s iconic combat systems.

A new addition to Darkest Dungeon 2 is a mechanic called Loathing that impacts your “hope”. The better your hope, the fewer bonuses your foes receive during combat. Of course, it wouldn’t be Darkest Dungeon without a sting to this. The lower your hope, the more dangerous your enemies become. Each area will have its own Loathing stats that you will need to take into account as you travel along the routes in the new stagecoach.

Stress also returns, though it maxes out at 10. However, what is new is that if your character has a meltdown, it will negatively impact the relationship affinity the character has with the rest in the group. A higher affinity means stress is easy to avoid while lower affinity means one hero might reject a healing potion from someone they don’t like.

There is also a new type of location called a Shrine of Reflection that can pop up along your route in Darkest Dungeon 2. These offer players a chance to unlock some new abilities after clearing the enemies. However, instead of a standard fight, these are more like puzzles where you might fight prison guards or “fight” a professor in a battle of intellect in a student-filled lecture hall. It’s a neat way of injecting more backstory into the heroes in your squad.

darkest dungeon 2 early access impressions

Darkest Dungeon 2 is shaping up to be a rather impressive sequel to a fantastic game. Players that want to get in and try their luck at surviving can pick up the early access version of Darkest Dungeon 2 on PC via the Epic Games Store. Check out the Shacknews YouTube channel for more video reviews as well as the GamerHubTV YouTube channel for exclusive developer interviews.

Head of Video

Greg is the head of Video Production for Shacknews. If you've ever enjoyed a video on, it was most likely edited by him. Follow him on Twitter @GregBurke85

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