Darkest Dungeon has officially released on the Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita, eight months into its full release on PC. How does it compare to the PC release? That’s what we are here for.
Darkest Dungeon released on the PC as an Early Access title on February 23, 2015, and has achieved a substantial amount of critical acclaim throughout it’s early access period into its full release on January 19, 2016. It is a brutally difficult Lovecraftian dungeon crawler with roguelike elements. And like H.P. Lovecraft’s work, it seeks to drive its players absolutely mad. It is a game about the stresses and psychological afflictions of adventuring, and the phobias contracted through coming into contact with otherworldly horrors. As your mercenaries venture into the dungeons and interact with their surroundings, they will develop quirks and character traits that can act as both boons and burdens. As a result of these afflictions, adventurers will become both braver and more fearful of their surroundings. Players must manage their light source, feed their adventurers, and protect them from damage, all in an effort to keep their stress levels low. If their stress levels hit a breaking point, a new quirk or phobia may be developed that affects that character’s behavior. These behavioral changes can potentially affect the stress levels of the entire adventuring party. Many of these psychological quirks may be treated, but like everything in the game it comes at a cost. It’s not an experience for the faint of heart, but the tension of its gameplay and the beauty of its artwork make it a difficult game to put down.
Darkest Dungeon is a perfect fit for the Playstation Vita. With its randomized dungeons, high replayability, and flexible play sessions, there aren’t many platforms better suited for this game. And while the Vita is my preferred platform, the port leaves a little to be desired. The game runs beautifully with no frame rate hitches and clean visuals, making it a perfect port from a technical standpoint. But the lack of touchscreen controls and emphasis on the rear touch pad make it a difficult game to adjust to. Darkest Dungeon is a game perfectly suited to a touchscreen. It’s a side scrolling game that has turn based combat, leaving much of the time spent within the game in menus. The inability to simply tap on what you want to select is a strange omission. I realize that implementing these controls into the game would have taken more time than the developer likely wanted to put into a Vita port. However, it would have been a nice touch that could have made a huge difference on the game’s controls. As it stands, the left and right sides of the rear touch pads serve as the L1 and R1 buttons. This leaves resting fingers to constantly scroll through your party members, and pull up menus accidentally. Given the slow pace of the game, it’s easy enough to adjust your grip to avoid accidental button presses. Though it is an annoying quirk that could have been remedied by relying on the left and right sides of the front touch screen instead of the back panel. In the end, Darkest Dungeon is a perfect fit for the Playstation Vita. And even though it’s a little worse off from a control perspective, it’s a wonderful game that is perfect for a portable console.
The Playstation 4 version fares a little better than the Vita, thanks to the control scheme. Everything on the PS4 controls beautifully, and exactly as a player would expect it to. The visuals look beautiful in 1080p on a big screen, and the gameplay is just as engrossing as it is on other platforms. In the end I still think I prefer the PC for chair-bound Darkest Dungeon sessions, but the PS4 is just as solid a choice.
Darkest Dungeon released on PS4 and Vita as a cross-buy title for $24.99 on Sep. 27, 2016. Plus users can find the title discounted to $19.99 for the week of it’s launch.