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Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Court

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Court Game Poster Image
Bloody, tough expansion goes deeper into brutal dungeons.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Though overarching goal is to save a kingdom, message is buried under grim graphics, story, gameplay.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Heroes are mercenaries; your character's family history is violent, ugly.

Ease of Play

Success depends on number crunching, careful planning. Even new Radiant (casual) mode is challenging.

Violence

Characters seen killing monsters and people, as well as bleeding, having acid thrown on them, suffering from plague, going insane. New Crimson Curse makes heroes bloodthirsty; new Flagellant hero is masochistic.

Sex

Though sex not shown, players can reduce heroes' stress by sending them to a brothel.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Heroes reduce stress by visiting a pub, gambling.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Court is a downloadable role-playing game expansion and can't be played without the base game, Darkest Dungeon. It continues to focus on violent combat where heroes bleed, have acid thrown on them, and struggle with mental afflictions. The game revolves around the player's debauched family history as well as the "Crimson Curse," a blood-related disease that turns people into bloodthirsty monsters. It also offers a new "easy" mode that's still not easy; gameplay remains difficult. Though there's no sexual content or drug use shown, party members relieve stress by visiting brothels and pubs, or by gambling. 

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What's it about?

DARKEST DUNGEON: THE CRIMSON COURT digs deeper into the main character's history, uncovering distasteful truths about his ancestor. Previously, players thought the family estate was besieged by random evil, but now they find out that its misfortunes could actually be punishment for equally evil deeds. The castle, once the setting of glamorous social occasions, is now overrun with bloodthirsty, insectlike creatures and monstrous aristocrats spreading the dreaded Crimson Curse. This Curse is highly contagious and makes heroes into bipolar blood addicts. It's also brought a terrifying adversary, the Fanatic: a religious zealot bent on destroying the Curse. In keeping with the blood-soaked theme, the new hero class, the Flagellant, is a masochistic soul whose power comes from bloody self-mutilation. Players have to rely on new trinkets and upgrades from the new Districts to get through the huge new dungeons in one piece.

Is it any good?

This difficult role-playing game expansion will test even the most dedicated player, but will reward them with a deep experience. Darkest Dungeon separates the casual gamer from the hard-core (or perhaps the patient from the impatient). You can't fake your way through it; you really have to understand each of your hero's abilities and limitations, not to mention how those work alongside other heroes'. Despite its new vampire theme and new “casual” mode, Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Court is just as challenging.

The new campaign sends your heroes into dungeons far larger than they've ever seen before. Fortunately, the expansion has been improved: now, if circumstances force you to leave the dungeon before finishing it, you don't have to start all over again. The benefit of this becomes increasingly apparent as you go along. Not only do you have to worry about running into shape-changing, disease-carrying bosses -- you might also run into a Curse-hating religious fanatic ready to burn-at-the-stake first and ask questions later. Getting to these bosses takes grit and tenacity, and beating them takes serious skill. Even with the new Flagellant class bolstering party damage with his appetite for self-destruction, you're bound to lose your hard-won treasure, your party, and maybe even your self-respect. On top of that, things are pretty crazy what with everyone bleeding, drinking blood, or going through gibbering blood withdrawal. It's all quite disturbing, so caution is advised. That said, The Crimson Curse is highly contagious; if you love a challenge, you should do your best to catch it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in games such as Darkest Dungeon. What are the reasons people watch, read, or play violent content, and how does it make them feel? Is the violence OK because the game content is clearly unrealistic?

  • Think about the saying "the sins of the fathers." What does that mean in the Crimson Court? In real life?

  • Discuss the concept of contagion. Have you seen movies featuring lethal epidemics? What lessons do they teach?

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