The Sunshine Estate

It’s not so dark now, is it?

Many things have changed since the full release of Darkest Dungeon. We’ve seen the introduction of town events, the Antiquarian, Radiant Mode, Stygian Mode (the rebalanced New Game+), heirloom trading, and the first story expansion with The Crimson Court. With the release of the expansion it seemed as good a time as any to return to the horrors beneath our family home. I’ve been meaning to go back to my previous estate, but, as you can probably tell from the title of this post, I instead opted for a Radiant Mode campaign.

It’s an interesting concept for a difficulty adjustment.

Rather than making the enemies and dungeons trivial, it instead makes the campaign shorter and reduces the need for grinding significantly by providing Radiant Mode specific stagecoach upgrades. Most things are cheaper, too. Which, when paired with an Antiquarian in your roster, reduces the need to grind for gold almost entirely. It’s a pleasant experience overall.

I’ve not played the default difficulty (now known as Darkest Mode) since release, but Radiant Mode has great pacing comparatively. Each week has a purpose and affords progression. Whether that progression takes the form of a boss kill, an upgrade to the estate, levelling up a hero, or even an expedition to the Darkest Dungeon. It’s nice that the challenge is retained, too. Failure is still possible if you don’t play well or use effective team compositions. Or forgot to bring torches to the second assault on the Darkest Dungeon. Which was the highlight of my entire campaign, as I noticed almost immediately but fleeing the Darkest Dungeon results in a guaranteed death. I wasn’t fond of that as I’d been training these heroes for this for some time.

Nightmare made material.

Which also made the mistake even more hilarious. Thankfully, I didn’t have any Sun Rings on the heroes in that party so fighting through in the darkness was at least doable. By virtue of Cry Havoc and Rallying Flare we were successful. I did take 60+ stress from Revelation, though. They acted before either of my guards could be applied. I had few deaths in this campaign, too. Besides that ill fated attempt at fighting a Shambler with an Antiquarian party that lacked the necessary damage. We killed the Shambler- but the spawn quickly finished us off.

Hilariously, that loss was worth two achievements.

With the release of The Crimson Court I would have to agree that Darkest Dungeon is in the best condition that it’s ever been in. The classes are all particularly useful for one reason or another, there are innumerable team compositions to provide different answers to similar problems, and there’s even new content (and a new class) to experience if you own The Crimson Court.

I’m intending for this Radiant Mode campaign to be the first in a series of campaigns. I was thinking of doing difficulty progression akin to how you work through normal, nightmare, and hell in the earlier instalments of the Diablo series. I’ve had a lot of fun with this estate, but I’m slightly dubious about the shortened campaign length. Given that I’ve spent nearly 50hrs in this estate at this point. Though, to be fair, that is likely shorter than a Darkest Mode or Stygian Mode campaign would be. I also took the time to kill all of the bosses, level up all of the classes, and do other things that aren’t necessary for the successful resolution of a campaign. I’m starting to think I have a problem regarding the completion of miscellaneous objectives.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Swine Chopper – 2015 – Digital – click for full view on site!

Prodigious size alone does not dissuade the sharpened blade.

You may remember this piece from a Twitter post quite a while back now. I hadn’t realised how long it had been but there were obviously a number of things going on between when I started the piece, to when I updated it, to when I decided to throw gallons of digital paint at it. I was originally going for a different style but settled on colouring the lined piece (which is actually how my first experiences with digital art occurred). Let’s dive into all the fun and interesting things that make up this piece.

First of all- Darkest Dungeon has an awesome art direction. Though it’s not an overly realistic style, it is presented in such a way that it conveys depth and realism in a rather unique take on 2D sprite styles. It’s dark, it’s gritty, and it’s mature. The well documented stress system is where these imposing and often horridly disfigured beasts come into play.

Why the Swine Chopper? Well, I rather like the interesting take on enemy classes in this particular title. The swine and their varied assortment of combatants, from the smaller vomiting swine, to the bigger and devastating Swinetaurs, give a lot of flavour to the types of beasts you’ll be facing. All handled in a rather unique way from the fact that being vomited on causes stress (naturally) to the delightfully comical references to hooves and trotting. There are also an assortment of horribly disfigured humanoids(?) in the form of fungal foes.

The actual origins of the swine and whether they too were once human or not remains to be explained.

Swine Chopper - 2015 - DigitalOne would assume not as they seem to possess almost all physical traits of animals- rather than humanoids- just that they stand on their hind legs and cleave their foes asunder. Or make drums out of what looks like the stretched skin of a human face. The game is quite dark and macabre when you really get down to it- but that’s all part of the charm!

I was originally going to try and go with a lineless painted style with this piece but I still lack the apparent experience to do so digitally. However, I do enjoy the style I have for digital pieces at the moment (which mostly relies on a lot of opacity). Combining that with the lined piece seemed like a natural fit and it went through several changes, from being lighter in tone, to having more defined shadows, over the course of completing this digital rendition. While it didn’t work out exactly as planned I am happy with it. It’s a nice deviation from the normal kind of thing I would do- and it’s digital- so the site finally has a new and rather nice digital piece.

While, yes, it still falls into the category of fan art, that doesn’t actually bother me all that much.

In any case, I didn’t simply want to let the lined piece fall to the wayside even though I wasn’t entirely thrilled with how it had turned out. This offered the opportunity to salvage the piece, improve upon it, and perhaps make something worthwhile from it. Which is always a plus. Either way, I hope you enjoy it!

Equally, such a piece would not be possible were it not inspired from the rather enjoyable Darkest Dungeon. Much appreciation to Red Hook for creating such a unique and devilish title!

Have a nice Sunday, all!

Moggie

Art, design, and the like found herein (unless otherwise specified) is drawn and owned by David Wilkshire (also credited as Moggie) from 2006 to present date.

Darkest Dungeon, the Caretaker, Swinetaurs, Swine Choppers, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Red Hook.

First Impressions of… Darkest Dungeon

Do you like the idea of losing one or several of your heroes to the encroaching darkness?

Or would you prefer having a character suffer the stresses of the abyssal horrors beneath the manor only to eventually succumb to them and go completely mad? In either case, you’ll find what you want in the myriad of ancient halls and winding pathways of Darkest Dungeon. Not the actual Darkest Dungeon, though. That has yet to be implemented. But there are plenty of other places you can visit, explore, or maybe even cleanse while trying to redeem your family name.

Or while making ridiculous amounts of money.

Unlike other RPGs, Darkest Dungeon will tax brave adventurers with an overflowing amount of stress for facing the abominations which call your estate their home. Too much of it will lead to a character making a resolve check, which can be either positive or negative, and can severely impact how they perform in the rest of the dungeon. In one circumstance my Crusader refused to fight at all for several turns. Which, given we were one person down, and close to losing another to madness, wasn’t great. Should they take too much damage, they’ll fall to Death’s Door, where each subsequent amount of damage received may permanently kill them. You’ll lose all of their equipment if they die, too. Unless you can finish the fight and recover their trinkets.

Death has a number of other consequences (besides the obvious) as well. Remaining party members will incur a stress penalty, the party will likely be unable to finish the dungeon with reduced numbers, and (if you’re lucky enough to recover the trinkets) you may need to leave loot behind. It’s not something to be taken lightly.

Bleeding from your face is no longer optional.

Bleeding from your face is no longer optional.

Darkest Dungeon is shaping up to be an Early Access title which (despite already being quite promising) is going to get even more interesting in the coming months. Beside the number of already implemented, fully functional, and fully upgradable character classes they’re looking to add a few extras. There’s also a fourth area which will be implemented later in the development process. There will likely be other changes, too. As the developers are quite keen to respond to how the community is faring with their hellish adventure.

That and there’s the actual Darkest Dungeon to see. One day.

Besides delving in dungeons you’ll also be expected to upgrade your estate, your character roster, your facilities, and even the equipment for all of your heroes. You can also let any of your inactive heroes recover stress or remove negative quirks. Quirks, which, while they seem fairly scarce to begin with, will pile on quite quickly. These will also affect how your heroes respond to the interactions in dungeons, how much damage they take, how much stress they accrue, and more. So they’re not something you can afford to let run rampant. If you get everything perfectly balanced (with a few good runs under your belt) you might even get to retire one of your favourite heroes.

It’s not likely, though. Darkest Dungeon is inherently a punishing title that expects you to lose characters, progress, and even trinkets. It’s designed to push you to the limit and (at the moment) there is no easier difficulty level to choose. That said, if punishing difficulty sounds like your idea of a good time then this title is well worth the price of admission.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie