"Darkest Dungeon 2: Review, Minimum & Recommended Requirements, and Gameplay Analysis" - Archyde (2023)

PublisherRed Hook Studios
DeveloperRed Hook Studios
Minimum RequirementsIntel Core i3-2115C 2.0 GHz / AMD Athlon II X3 455 3.3 GHz, 4 GB RAM, 2 GB DirectX 11 graphics card, such as NVIDIA GeForce GT 740 / Radeon R5 340, 15 GB storage, Internet connection and Steam / Epic Games Store account
Recommended RequirementsIntel Core i5-750S 2.4 GHz / AMD Phenom II X4 965 3.4 GHz, 6 GB RAM, 2 GB DirectX 12 graphics card, such as NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti / Radeon R7 360X
release dateMay 10, 2023

The first Darkest Dungeon turned out to be an unusual game and so hopeless that it was felt almost physically. It was impossible to predict the outcome of the next sortie, the heroes died forever, and a comrade-in-arms who went crazy could ruin the entire expedition by unwillingness to do anything. I had to constantly balance between “bad” and “disgusting”: the strongest warrior is about to move, and not in an attack on the boss, but in a fool; the shooter does not want to leave the brothel, and the healer has picked up such a heap of diseases that he has become useless and will spend several weeks in the infirmary. The guys available here and now are of a very low level, but what to do – someone from this group of suicide bombers will probably survive and gain experience. Or they all go to the graveyard. In general, the management of this mini-army between races was in no way inferior in complexity to the sorties themselves – you could easily find yourself in a situation where there was simply no one to fight.

And who is now easy …

At the same time, the game constantly generated unique stories. With proud Friedrich, we went from the first monsters to almost the last boss, but the swordsman missed a sneaky critical hit and died. Jester Herald was so unwilling to die that he was always lucky in attacks that were supposed to kill him. Vestal Gloria had seen enough of such that the only way to get rid of stress was a week-long binge. And so on and so forth – what is happening in the Darkest Dungeon can be retold as a funny comedy, and as a bloody horror. Each run, each playthrough was unique, even with all the mechanics already thoroughly studied, since almost everything – from available fighters to locations – was randomly generated.

And then came Darkest Dungeon 2 – and it feels like a sequel, consisting of ideas that were rejected for the first part. Sequels, of course, should not blindly copy the previous release, but in this case, the developers tried so hard to add a new one that they broke everything else along the way. In terms of management, the second part seriously passed back. It is no longer possible to form your own units, as there is no blacksmith, and various establishments for relieving stress. Moreover, the heroes no longer die forever – only for the duration of the next race. I chose four at the very beginning of the next expedition, assigned them a specialization and skills – and forward. You no longer need to be careful, retreat, take care of their mental state or plan a few steps ahead – in case of failure, you will lose only your own time and items that still fall out randomly.

"Darkest Dungeon 2: Review, Minimum & Recommended Requirements, and Gameplay Analysis" - Archyde (1)

Each trap breaks the wagon, and if there is no more protection, you will have to stop and repair it, fighting off the monsters

The emphasis on the individuality of the characters is now so serious that the skills are hidden behind the past of the fighters. You can delve into it in special shrines, but only for one hero at a time. In total, each character has five memories (written to a yawn corny) – and to open everything, everyone needs to visit the temples more than five dozen (!!) times. On the map, temples, of course, appear randomly, and you learn about the skill itself only at the time of its acquisition, you cannot see it in advance. It is possible to suffer for some nonsense with such a specific use case that it is simply useless. All this greatly interferes with the selection of the party, because before trying to assemble the optimal composition, you first need to get all the skills. As a result, some expeditions are equipped solely for the sake of mechanically collecting new abilities and nothing more.

In general, progress in Darkest Dungeon 2 is one of the weakest parts of the game. The variety of resources and pumping in levels were replaced with “candles of hope”. Everything is bought on them between races, from new heroes and permanent improvements for them to new cart skins. And for the performance of certain actions, points are given more, so attacks turn for the most part into running through the to-do list to maximize profits, and not dangerous research.

"Darkest Dungeon 2: Review, Minimum & Recommended Requirements, and Gameplay Analysis" - Archyde (2)

Along the way, the characters can quarrel among themselves and will add stress to each other when using certain skills. Sometimes right in front of the boss can be unlucky…

"Darkest Dungeon 2: Review, Minimum & Recommended Requirements, and Gameplay Analysis" - Archyde (3)

Or the guys in the squad will stand up for each other like a mountain and help partners in difficult situations

Research got the most. Instead of exploring randomly generated dungeons, the squad rides on a wagon, and only forward. At the forks, you can choose which of the points of interest to turn to – there may be traps between these points, but otherwise you can always lay a more or less safe route on the map. In Darkest Dungeon, you never knew what was waiting behind the next door, and what the hell would happen to you this time. The level could be easy or so difficult that it was impossible to advance beyond a couple of rooms. Yes, and progress in each of the four “biomes” was independent – it does not work in one, you can go try your luck in another.

Darkest Dungeon 2 is straight as a stick – you just choose a chapter, and then you ride exactly through the same locations, trying to get to the mountain. Yes, the order of the levels changes, as well as the location of points of interest on them, but if it is completed at least once, then it will no longer be able to surprise. Over time, you understand where the weakest intermediate bosses are (without defeating at least one of them they will not be allowed to go to the main monster of the chapter), and where it is better to act more carefully – and that’s it, further races turn into a monotonous tedium with the repetition of the same thing for an hour, if unlucky in the final fight.

The game could have been pulled out by the combat system, but for some reason Red Hook Studios decided to stuff sticks into the wheels of the stagecoach. Abilities now have limits on use, somewhere you need to wait for a recharge or certain conditions to be met. The developers, it seems, wanted to speed up the battles in this way, avoid the monotonous “clicking” with especially strong skills and make the battles deeper and more technical, but they were too smart.

Why can healing spells now only be used when the character’s health is below 30%? It doesn’t really work when the party is bombarded with powerful area attacks – it’s unlikely to recover quickly here, and the game doesn’t allow you to maintain health in battles at the maximum level. Healers were generally humiliated: my favorite occultist traditionally can create a critical heal for as much as 0 health points, the vestal has forgotten how to conjure recovery every turn, and the plague doctor only has 3 flasks with a potion. In addition, a failed stress check always takes 95% of a character’s hit points (a successful one heals, but this is rare), so there is practically no chance of saving the party in a bad set of circumstances. You can complicate the passage in many ways, but Darkest Dungeon 2 chose the most banal – just cut the player’s capabilities and punish him at every turn, which the first part did not do.

"Darkest Dungeon 2: Review, Minimum & Recommended Requirements, and Gameplay Analysis" - Archyde (4)

Fortunately, this time the occultist was able to

Here, of course, we can say that, in contrast to this, some heroes have learned to restore health in other ways and, in general, interact with partners and opponents in a bunch of different ways. For example, one of the wards throws a curse on the enemy, which allows the follower to increase his attack (add bleeding damage, stun, heal himself and stuff like that). This is really cool and makes you approach battles smartly, however, the main problem here is that before you start more or less large-scale experiments with your party (and generally understand who is best suited to each other), you need to get as many abilities as possible from each class and several specializations within that class.

"Darkest Dungeon 2: Review, Minimum & Recommended Requirements, and Gameplay Analysis" - Archyde (5)

Intermediate bosses turned out to be interesting, but killing them for the 10th time is very boring

And if in the first part the extraction of resources was a bonus to exciting dungeons, difficult enemies and demanding management of fighters in moments of calm, then in the second part there was only boring grind. Spend another attempt to get skills. Then a few more – for the extraction of hope points. Get permanent upgrades, finally pass the next chapter. To understand that nothing has changed in the next one: you need to do exactly the same, with the same enemies, in the same locations, with the same conditions and traps. By this point, I was so fed up with Darkest Dungeon 2 with its monotony, the lack of any planning between races and the emphasis on mechanical gathering of this and that, that I simply returned to the first part.

Major changes in the sequels allow the series to not stagnate and offer fresh ideas. However, in the case of Darkest Dungeon 2, most of the innovations turned out to be either strange or not really working. The first part was distinguished by a viscous atmosphere of hopelessness and the possibility of losing everything at any moment, but with all the difficulties in it, I wanted to push forward. The gameplay cycle of the sequel, in turn, gets boring too quickly, and without at least some management and even a minimal threat to fill up the passage, the game is simply not able to keep the degree of madness and tension of its predecessor.


  • combat system with a lot of possibilities;
  • grotesque monster design.


  • a strange system of unlocking skills with no way to know what exactly will be unlocked;
  • dungeons that could be freely explored were replaced by wagon rides in the same locations;
  • lack of squad management, resources, and at least something more complicated than distributing points for permanent improvements. All negative statuses are reset between races, so there is no point in taking care of the party;
  • without fear of losing everything, the viscous, oppressive atmosphere of hopelessness also left.


There was a lot of controversy about the appearance of the game, but it looks great both in static and in dynamics. The dark style is also great.


The narrator is still good, but the rest of the soundtrack goes on in a completely inconspicuous background.

Single player game

The game has lost many of the features of the first part, without offering anything in return. But here, sticks are artificially inserted into the wheels, forbidding, for example, normal treatment – without this, the passage would be quite simple.

Collective game

Not provided.

General impression

Darkest Dungeon 2 wanted to deviate as much as possible from the formula of the first part and send us on a new adventure, but something went wrong. The project simply lost the gloomy atmosphere of its predecessor and never figured out how to replace its mechanics.

Rating: 6.0/10

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