'Darkest Dungeon' Is Heading to the Nintendo Switch

Aiming for 2017, but no promises

Darkest Dungeon, a turn-based dungeon crawl infused with panic attacks and disease, is coming to the Nintendo Switch. No date has been set, but Red Hook Studios co-founder Tyler Sigman says he hopes to get it to the system this year.

The news hit Friday morning by way of a tweet showing the game running on the Switch.

Darkest Dungeon hit a variety of systems in 2016 to much acclaim, specifically because of its use of diseases and post-traumatic stress disorder inside the gameplay, making the game both a dungeon crawler and the sort of experience that required deft management and care of your teammates.

Darkest Dungeon was my personal game of the year. As I wrote at the time for Polygon: Layered on top of the typical stats found in a role-playing game (in this case, health, accuracy, protection, speed, etc, etc) is the incredibly vital stress statistic.

Stress shows up as a series of tiny, greyed out rectangles under a character’s name. The more stressed they become, the more of those boxes receive a white outline. When a hero completely maxes out their stress level, which raises during combat and exploration of the darkened dungeons, they essentially have a panic attack. That panic attack gives them either an affliction or a virtue. Afflictions take the shape of anything as harmless as a fear of the dark to as problematic as being intensely self-serving. Virtues offer an equally broad range of quirks. The more you play, the more your character stresses and the more of these quirks pop up. All of these quirks bring with them direct impact in behavior or stats.

Increased stress can also lead to a higher chance of contracting one of the many diseases in the game like syphilis, tetanus or “spasm of the entrails.” All of which bring with them their own negative effects. Reducing stress involves assigning characters to tasks at the bar or the abbey. Curing afflictions means a trip to the sanitarium. All of which costs money and takes those characters out of rotation for awhile.

The chief reason Darkest Dungeon is my game of the year in 2016, though, isn’t simply because I’ve played and enjoyed it so much. It’s because it’s proof that tackling real-world, unpleasant issues in a game can indeed make for much more compelling titles.

Without stress and the psychological impact of warfare, Darkest Dungeon would have been just another role-playing game lost in a sea of similar titles.

Instead, it’s a darkly compelling title that touches as much on tactics as it does the humanity of warfare and the complexity of the human psyche. It shows that the repercussions of combat isn’t always death, sometimes it’s something much more subtle.

Darkest Dungeon thrives as proof to other developers, I hope, that spending time to enrich a game with touches of real-life issues isn’t just a morally responsible thing to do, it can be an artistically-driven creative choice that turns a potentially generic title into someone’s game of the year.