Review: “Darkest Dungeon”, Pt. 3:

A change to this blog: I’m removing the “Heroes” section from part 2 and adding it to this part.

In the final part of the ‘Darkest Dungeon’ review, I’m going to take a look at the Hero Classes. There are 15 classes, with each class having 7 main stats to keep track of:

  • Resolve: the resistance level to bleed, light, stuns, and other bad effects; it governs the overall effectiveness of the other stats
  • Accuracy (ACC): the modifier (good or bad) applied to the character’s ability to hit an enemy. This can be affected by quirks and trinkets.
  • Critical Hit Chance (CRIT): critical hits can change the tide of battle pretty quickly. If your character scores a critical hit with a physical or magical attack, they do 1.5x their maximum damage to their victim, plus have their own stress reduced; sometimes, other Heroes will have some of their stress relieved, also. It also prolongs any bleed, blight, or stun applied for an additional 2 rounds.  However, if a Hero takes a critical hit, those same damage and effects happen to them; they also have their stress increased.
    Low torchlight increases the critical hit chances, for everyone, Heroes and enemies alike.
  • Damage (DMG): exactly what it says. You hit something with a big sword, it will take damage; if you get hit with a big sword, you will take damage. The better quality of your weapons, the more damage you can inflict.
  • Dodge: this will increase your chance of avoiding a hit. Your armor quality, plus and buffs/debuffs, quirks, and trinkets, will affect this number. Certain class abilities will also help or hurt this number.
  • Speed (SPD): I wondered how this stat played in. Turns out, it determines who has priority during battles. The higher this number, the more likely that that character will go first in a battle. This explains why a couple of my characters always seemed to get their turns last….
  • Protection (PROT): this is damage-reduction percentage. It does not affect damage caused by bleed or blight.



From the left: Vestal (4th slot); Grave Robber (3rd slot); Highwayman (2nd slot); Leper (1st slot)

These are the 15 classes of Heroes:

  • Abomination: the Abomination is an interesting character to me. He is a shapeshifting powerhouse on offense, in both Human and Beast forms. He can cause some pretty heavy Blight and Bleed damage, has a stun attack, and can self-heal, physical and Stress, for a significant amount. He is also the only character to have all 8 possible abilities unlocked from the outset. All of that firepower comes with a price:
    • When he changes in Beast form, he causes a LOT of party-wide Stress: about 12-25, per character; when switches back to Human form, it only relieves about 1/3 of the caused Stress. If he switches into Beast mode and your party runs up against a stress-causing enemy (like the Madman: can cause upwards of 30 Stress per normal attack), it could be catastrophic.
    • Religious characters refuse to quest with. That means no Vestal, Crusader, or Leper, if the Abomination is already in the party.
      Do you risk taking him, knowing that two of your heavy hitters, plus your main healing class, can’t come with him?
  • Antiquarian: in terms of combat, she is statistically the worst of the 15. Her Festering Vapours can do some ok Blight damage but everything else is piddling. Her value comes in Camping and Treasure finding: she can increase the amount of gold carried per stack. Her Camping skills allows her to find trinkets or extra supplies, or reduce stress. Good for when you need to carry a lot of gold back or find some trinkets; spotty viability, otherwise.
  • Arbalest: Comfortable only in the 3rd or 4th slots, she carries a very large crossbow for which to do some moderate damage from a distance. She has a Bandage ability that is not handy for when the Vestal isn’t in your group, but will increase the healing from other sources. Her ability to mark a target is also pretty sweet, giving that target a better chance of getting Critical Hit with Sniper’s Shot. She of very little use at the front of your party, so be careful when your party lineup is shuffled.
  • 300px-bountyhunter Bounty Hunter: the “Party Wrecker”. His Grappling Hook is essential: it can yank pesky spell casters and back row problems (looking at YOU, “Madman”!) to the front, where your heavy hitters can finish them off. Speaking of heavy hitters, he works well with a Crusader or other characters that can Stun or Mark targets, as his “Finish Them and Collect The Bounty abilities can make very quick work of them. His only drawback is that he is lightly armored; don’t go using him as a tank.
  • 192px-crusaderCrusader: One of the first 2 characters you receive, the Crusader is the stereotypical “Paladin”, minus the Warhammer. He is also your stereotypical “Tank”: heavily armored, does decent-but-not-spectacular damage to enemies, can (usually) take a significant beating. The Crusader is a wrecking machine when facing the undead; his Smite does a minimum of 15% damage against them. He also has a decent Bulwurk shield to protect him, when things goes haywire (which they will). He also has Zealous Accusation, which does damage to the front two spots, and a small healing ability. While he has Lance of Faith to attack from a distance, I wouldn’t recommend putting him in those back slots. His Camping skills are geared towards Stress relief – a great feature. Take him whenever you can.
  • Grave Robber: she is my “surprise” character class. I wasn’t expecting much from her…. boy, was I wrong. She is arguably the most versatile class in the game. She has a decent mix of ranged (thrown darts that can cause Blight, plus thrown daggers) and melee attacks (Pick To Th Face), can self-buff (saving a turn spent on her by other classes), and has the highest Trap disarming chance of any class. One ability that I really like is “Lunge”: she can melee attack from the back, lunging her forward in the formation. This can fix any lineup problems caused from being Surprised or from enemy attacks.
    If your lineup isn’t rigidly set, the Grave Robber is an almost-must take. If you have characters that have to be in certain spots, she is still a pretty good option, especially in areas with Blight/Bleed-susceptible enemies.
  • Hellion: she is a Halberd-wielding Barbarian who is surprisingly good at dealing massive damage from the 1st or 2nd spot. Her Breakthrough and Wicked Hack can break down an enemy formation in no time, while her Bleed Out can effectively neutralize the front spot enemy. She has some decent buffs but they come at a price, usually reducing her dodge and/or damage.
    One thing I’ve noticed, when I’ve had Hellions in my party: they get Stressed very quickly. She hasn’t been the best of choices in the Ruins but is pretty good in the Weald. Experiment with the Hellion and she if she fits in in your party.
  • robber Highwayman: this is the other starter character for your first party, alongside the Crusader (“so, a Paladin and a Thief were walking down the road….”). This character will save your party time and time again, at lower levels – take him whenever possible. While preferring the middle 2 slots, he has abilities that allow him to be in any of the 4 slots, although leading the party isn’t exactly recommended (he isn’t very durable against the bigger melee enemies). Point Blank Shot not only does big-time damage, it knocks enemies back; Grapeshot Blast can damage multiple enemies; Tracking Shot does minor damage but buffs the Highwayman; and Open Vein does some serious Bleed damage. A very versatile character!
  • Houndsmaster: I don’t know what to think about this class. His main functions seem to be party support, via buffs, and back-row, Bleed-causing damager. If you are in the Warrens or Weald, those Bleeds are great; not so much against the Undead in the Ruins. He does have a Dog Treat that he can use (presumably on his hound) that greatly increases his stats for a time, making him an awesome character against mini bosses like that blasted Collector. Getting  to these bosses, with him in a party, is the hard part. I haven’t been impressed, yet.
  • jester Jester: I really wish I had more info on the Jester. I’ve only seen him once; while he was in my party (and ALIVE… grrr), he was perhaps the most devastating character in my entire lineup, both party and waiting at the Hamlet. I remember his Harvest feature was particularly brutal, causing some big-time Bleed damage to the middle of an enemy party. He also, like the stereotypical Bard, had a Battle Song that would either buff your party, debuff the enemy party, or both. If you run across him at the Stagecoach in the Hamlet, pick him up.
  • Leper: to use a sports analogy, the Leper is former baseball player Adam Dunn. Dunn would routinely hit 40-50 home runs a season and drive in over 100 runs… but only bat .250-.260 and be at the top of baseball in strikeouts. LeperDunn is the same way: he is All or Nothing.
    The Leper has some very good self-heals and self-buffs, making his “All” that much more devastating. When he connects with such attacks at Chop and Hack, he has the highest damage output in the game; when he Critical Hits, I promise that more than once, you will yell “Ooooh!”. However…. he will miss with his attacks. A lot. If he doesn’t have the lowest Accuracy, it’s one of the 3 lowest.
    The Leper sounds like it would be awesome character, once outfitted with upgraded weapons, armor, and trinkets, and closer to the end-game. In early levels, make sure that you have another character that can take up the slack if the Leper misses. LeperDunn can change the game with one swing of the bat…. er, SWORD. How he changes it is the key.
  • Man-At-Arms: this guy is a walking shield. His party and self buffs are some of the highest in the game. He can Guard an ally or use Retribution to counter attacks, while Marking himself. His Camping abilities – along the same line as his party abilities – are nothing to dismiss, either.His offense, however, is not at all great. If you take the Man-At-Arms, bring along the Crusader or Hellion, also.
  • darkest_dungeon_artwork_8 Occultist: The Occultist is similar to the Leper, in that his ACC isn’t that great, making him prone to misses. Unlike the Leper, his base damage is low-to-middling. However, he prone to dishing out Critical Hits, from what I’ve seen, and they can be brutal. And they can cause Bleed – an awesome 1-2 punch.
    The Occultist has a few abilities – including his healing and his Camping abilities – that do significant help, at the cost of something big. He is worth a party spot, if he is managed well: find some trinkets or other buffs that can increase his accuracy.
  • Plague Doctor: if you want a good counter to enemies in the back lines, take the Plague Doctor. She is well-equipped to neutralize them. Her Plague Grenade can Blight one of them, her very strong Blinding Gas can stun them both.She also has Battlefield medicine, which can heal and cure Blight and Bleed. If you are in the Cove, the Plague Doctor should be in your party. She has too many talents to counter what you’ll see in the Cove, to be sitting on the sidelines.
  • Vestal: the Vestal is essential at low levels. She is the only dedicated Healer class. She also has a couple of spell attacks that can do minor to moderate damage and stun the enemies: Dazzling Light and Illumination (which also increases the Torch light). I don’t know how effective she will be end-game but she is an absolute must at the beginning of the game.

So, I would suggest that every party you form, at the low levels, has at least one of the following: The Crusader (to absorb and deal out damage), Vestal (to heal as much as possible), Highwayman (for ranged Bleed damage and stuns), Leper (for sheer firepower… if he hits), and Grave Robber (for her versatility). If you get lucky and find the Jester, take him. If the Leper is giving you problems, take the Plague Doctor, instead.

Quick tips and reminders:

  • Keep the Stress levels as low as possible. If you have the gold, treat the Stress in the Hamlet, but don’t go broke doing it.
  • Undead are immune to Bleed; Swine Men are resistant to Blight. Neither are very resistant to Stun.
  • Watch out for the mini-boss, The Collector. He will appear randomly.
  • Don’t be afraid to abandon a fight or quest. Taking Stress and surviving is better than wiping an entire party.
  • Experiment with different combinations. A “Holy” party – Crusader, Vestal, Leper, and (for example) Man-At-Arms may work well in the Ruins; a “Dark Circus” (my name) – Jester, Plague Doctor, Occultist, and Abomination – could be effective in the Weald, against Humans.
  • Have fun!

This game, so far, is perhaps the most fun I’ve had at being frustrated at a good chunk of something! It is a very fun game; the graphics are simple but pretty cool, the Hero classes are diverse enough that I can find uses for most of them, and it has tremendous replay value, already (I haven’t begun to scratch the surface of what middle-game and end-game content has). It was also very affordable: $19.99 on sale, $24.99 regular price on Steam. I even got used to the turn-based combat, something I haven’t been a fan of for most of my gaming life. If you are a PC gamer, and don’t mind yelling at your monitor when a character Critically Misses or dies (and many characters will die), then I recommend that you at least give Darkest Dungeon a try!

Thank you to those who have read this 3-part recap/review. I am not a professional reviewer by any means, but writing this has been pretty fun. Until next time!

2 thoughts on “Review: “Darkest Dungeon”, Pt. 3:

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