The Darkest Dungeon is a hellish pit filled with eldritch horrors, and those who worship them, that goes all the way down into the Heart of the World itself. To beat the game, you need to complete 4 quests in this location.
The music that plays during combat in the Darkest Dungeon is The Final Combat.
First and foremost — the Darkest Dungeon is nothing like the challenges you’ve faced before. Almost every attack will induce stress, every blight and bleed deals high damage, and every encounter has a good chance to be the last.
You can't easily retreat from the Darkest Dungeon, either, should things go south: when you retreat, a random party member will die (representing them holding off the monsters to buy their comrades time to escape). However, if there is only 1 party member left, they will escape safely. If you must flee, unequip all Trinkets before abandoning the quest to avoid losing them. You should also be aware that you cannot retreat at all during the game's final quest.
Characters who successfully complete a quest in the Darkest Dungeon will — on Darkest / Stygian difficulty — refuse to go back ever again. Such Heroes are marked by a torch in a Hero roster and candles on their stat page. However, even though they cannot be used in the Darkest Dungeon again, they can still be a major asset to you: it's still possible to send them on other quests, and they grant additional resolve XP to all other party members from then on. Additionally, Marked Heroes will not occupy a slot in the roster, meaning you can recruit 4 more without dismissing anyone or having anyone die.
On Radiant difficulty, Heroes can be reused for subsequent expeditions into the Darkest Dungeon, but at a very high cost — they will immediately enter with 80 Stress, and their Virtue chance will be reduced to the bare minimum of 1%. All these penalties mean that, regardless of difficulty every Hero will most likely go on a mission only once, so choose your composition wisely.
Unlike the usual random dungeons, the Dungeon Map layout and all fights in the Darkest Dungeon are scripted. You can't see the entire map as usual; rooms will be scouted as you move forward. Scouting doesn't work as usual, either: you don't get to see where the fights are. Hallways also come in different sizes and shapes, from long and straight to short and twisted. Additionally, the rules for reinforcements are always in effect, even if you have them turned off. On the plus side, there are no traps, blockages, or Night-Time Ambushes — meaning that you don't need to waste funds and camping Respite on shovels, keys and skills that Scout or negate ambushes. Hunger checks also occur more rarely than normal (although they can still happen), so you can reserve more food for emergency healing purposes. Choose provisions and trinkets appropriately.
In the Darkest Dungeon, there is very little loot to be found. None of the encounters will yield any loot, barring a victory against the Shuffling Horror which can yield a Shambler's Ancestral trinket. Each of the first three quests will only have a single room containing an unlocked chest with loot - these chests are guaranteed to hold a non-Shambler's Ancestral trinket; having the full collection will just have the chest contain random treasures. The only way to turn in a profit is by completing the quest and collecting the victory rewards.
If you fail a quest in the Darkest Dungeon with at least one hero at Resolve Level 5 or 6, it will only strengthen the resolve of those left behind, giving a x2 Resolve XP Bonus in the next quest (note you don't need to lose that hero and escape also counts as failure). If you succeed, all your Heroes in the Hamlet, including those returning from the successful quest, are inspired, and have all their stress removed.
After you complete the first quest in the Darkest Dungeon, the player character will begin to see things differently. Whenever you take an action in town (such as buying upgrades at the survivalist or purchasing provisions before setting out), select a region to quest in, or reassign a hero's skills, there is a chance that the screen will flicker and show you something... unexpected.
- Shovels and keys are useless: there are no curios that need a skeleton key, and there will be no obstacles that need to be cleared out.
- Antivenom and bandages are far more useful than usual, due to the high bleed and blight damage.
- Buying enough food and torches is also very important, as these quests tend to be exhausting.
- Bringing Holy Water to increase a Hero's resistances in certain fights is a good idea.
- Laudanum is useless, since enemies do not inflict horror.
In general, it is better to buy as many items as will fit in your inventory - normal fights and rooms produce no loot. There is no point being stingy when going into the most difficult dungeon in the game, and it is impossible to arrive over-prepared.
Quests and strategy
We Are The Flame
Once again, the stars are right and the manor sits at the very epicenter of cosmic unrest. Cultists rally to their twisted idols and great gongs sound in anticipation of the coming sacrifices. Far below, life-laden shadows pulse to the unrelenting rhythm of a beating heart.
- Size: Medium
- Difficulty: Darkest
- Goals: Kill 1 Shuffling Horror
The blood of the fallen flows ever downward along these titan spires. The creature fattens itself upon your failures.
Your main threats on this quest will be high stress damage and heavy bleed attacks. Pack bandages, and bring at least one hero who can heal stress damage (such as the Jester, Crusader, or Houndmaster). There are no enemies here with blight attacks, so you can safely leave the antivenoms behind.
The map layout is more or less mirrored throughout — just keep walking to the right on the map and you'll eventually find the Shuffling Horror. It's impossible to get lost or walk into the wrong room. The first few battles will give you a general idea of what you will face. Again: expect heavy stress and bleed — come prepared to manage them, and try to end fights as quickly as you can.
The Shuffling Horror is a stronger version of the Shambler, and can summon enemies like the Cultist Priest and Defensive Growth to assist him. In addition to hard-hitting bleed attacks, his attacks will shuffle your party around — bring Heroes that are effective from multiple positions. With 2 actions per turn, debuffs are less effective: keep the other enemies stunned, and focus on killing the Horror as quickly as you can. A party of 2-3 characters with riposte skills can make quick work of the Shuffling Horror as its attacks target the entire party and it will as such smack itself to death while attacking you.
The Rapturous Cultists are harmless on their own, giving you a chance to heal, de-stress, and buff your party. However as of the Color of Madness update, two cultists now will summon reinforcements if the player takes too long to finish them both.
|DD1 Map layout with enemies and curios (spoilers)|
You have merely glimpsed the edge of the abyss, but it is enough to trigger the cycle of revelation. Now, like me, you will begin to see things as they truly are.
Lighting the Way
The thing has no name, for it needs no language. Nevertheless, those who would submit to its wordless will are rewarded, in a fashion. The creature's blessings are as repulsive as they are robust. Twisted, half human monstrosities stalk the flesh-ridden halls, protecting their gestating god.
- Size: Long
- Difficulty: Darkest
- Goals: Activate 3 Iron Crowns
Madness made flesh! It crawls steadily upwards from the pit, supported by the lattice of cyclopean pillars.
This is arguably the hardest quest in the game: you can expect bleed, blight, and debuffs, and the three altars that you need to activate are guarded by minibosses: the Templar Impaler and the Templar Warlord. Take your best.
The Templars are not only tough and hard-hitting, with two actions per turn, but their Revelation attack, which they're always guaranteed to use on their first action, hits like a truck. You can, however, use the Talismans of the Flame you got from the previous quest to negate the health and stress damage from Revelation. The catch is that there are only three Talismans, so one of the Heroes has to go unprotected. As such, you're probably going to want to bring someone with a guard ability — like the Man-at-Arms or Houndmaster — to protect whoever doesn't have a Talisman. The Man-at-Arms is generally preferred due to the strength of his party buffs that lets the party better weather Stress-inducing attacks across the rest of the level. Take note that, due to the game mechanics capping Stress resistance at -80%, the Talisman doesn't fully negate the Stress damage from Revelation - you'll still take about 8 Stress each time, so bring along a Stress healer because your guarding hero will be exposed to a lot of Stress. Your heroes equipped with Talismans can only access one other Trinket, so choose your equipment carefully.
The altars are located in the dead ends at the end of each passage available from the starting room. Return to the starting room after activating each altar by backtracking through the same rooms to avoid unnecessary fights.
The altar to the right has both an Impaler and a Warlord, so it is advised to do it either first or last. The other two rooms feature one of the Templar types, and 2 other enemies as support: the room on the left features a Templar Impaler with 2 Polyp companions, and top room a Templar Warlord and 2 Flesh Hound companions. Even though these fights only feature one Templar type, you should not ignore the Flesh Hounds and Polyps since they can shuffle your heroes around and they use those abilities often. Take out those enemies first before you take on the Templar, as he will not resummon them.
With two campfires for three miniboss fights, it's important to plan a proper route to minimize battles, so that your camp buffs can last between two Templar fights. Between the left and right altars, there's just enough combat when moving from one to the other that you can engage the second altar fight just before the camp buff expires, leaving you free to save the firewood for the final altar. In between, just as with the first mission, you can take advantage of any fights with two Rapturous Cultists in order to fully heal your party.
Warning: Do not forget to activate the altars before leaving! If you leave the room without activating it, a bug will prevent you from interacting with the altars again — preventing you from beating the quest, and forcing you to lose a hero in retreat. (As of 12/23/2017, it seems at least the northern altar can be returned to successfully interact with the altar.)
Note: The battle against a Malignant Growth, a Priest and a Rapturous Cultist in one of the bottom right corridors is in actuality one square further from the starting room, and the battle against a pair of Priests and a pair of Rapturous Cultists is two squares further, just before the empty room.
|DD2 Map layout with enemies and curios (spoilers)|
The maniacal cultists are quelled, for a time, but there can be no celebration. Your progress is measured only in progressive realization... and dawning horror. You are in the shadow of the end.
Belly of the Beast
The interminable stone halls are but an antechamber. The creature is vast beyond measure, and must be battled from within. Step over the threshold, and let the terrible truth worm its way into your mind.
- Size: Exhausting (4 campfires)
- Difficulty: Darkest
- Goals: Activate 1 Locus Beacon
The gateless gate. A maddening aperture to realms beyond human understanding.
This mission isn't hard so much as it is long — the dungeon is huge, and it's designed to grind you down over time. On top of that, the amount of firewood and food you'll need will cut into your other purchases — you're going to be short on something no matter what. If you wish to save space that would be taken up by food, equip all four of your party members with Fasting Seals, which makes it so none of your party members need to eat. Keep in mind that blight is much more of a threat in this level than bleed.
Most of the enemies are dangerous but unremarkable. You may run into a Templar or two, but don't panic — these ones are a lot weaker, lacking the Revelation ability and having only one action per turn.
The level's main gimmick is the Mammoth Cyst and White Cell Stalk combo. The Cyst doesn't do too much damage (at least by the standards of what you've already faced), but it has a lot of health, and can apply debuffs and blight. The Stalk, however, has a truly nasty ability — a Teleport ability which sends you to a random room on the edges of the map. The Stalk won't immediately teleport you on the first turn of the battle, the likelihood of it using that skill increases over time. Although the fight won't reset if you make your way back, it still takes a lot of time and resources to deal with. Be warned: if you're teleported to a room you haven't explored yet, you will be unable to retreat from the fight inside.
Your party has to get to the center of the map (right and down from the starting location), where the Locus Beacon is guarded by one final Mammoth Cyst. If you get teleported, just fight your way back to the center while avoiding other Cysts. Use your camps whenever your health or stress become a problem. When fighting the Cysts and Stalks, priority goes to being able to kill the Stalks as quickly as possible while slowly chipping away at the Mammoth Cyst's health.
The Plague Doctor and Hellion are excellent choices here — the Doctor can cure DOT and help conserve antivenom, while the Hellion can hit the back rank hard in order to get rid of the Stalks before they have a chance to teleport your party. The Houndmaster also excels in this mission, as he has a damage bonus against the numerous Beast-type enemies in this mission. Be sure to account for his Dog Treats taking up inventory space, though.
|DD3 Map layout with enemies and curios (spoilers)|
At last, the twisted heart of the world is laid bare for sword or supplication.
Hell is in the Heart
- Size: Short
- Difficulty: Darkest
- Goals: Kill 1 Heart of Darkness
In all my terrible researches, what I sought was a glimpse behind the veil, a crumb of cosmic truth... I found it here, and in that moment of brain-blasting realization I ceased to be a man and became a herald...an avatar of the Crawling Chaos.
Life feeds on life. In your petty pursuit of family redemption you consumed those who rallied to your cause and in so doing you strengthened the Thing, accelerating the end. This is as it should be. It is why you are here.
We are chained here forever, you and I, at the end of the world. Free yourself, rouse the thing, and embrace the ineffable cosmic hideousness that lives within us all.
This is it. The end. One hallway, one destination, one boss. Most party compositions will work here, as long as they aren't totally flawed (e.g. Rank 4 Leper) — however, the battle will be easier if you can attack all four positions.
If Reynauld and Dismas are still alive, you can bring them both to unlock an achievement. If you do seek this achievement, bear in mind that the Never Again feature means they absolutely cannot participate in any prior Darkest Dungeon quest, unless you're on Radiant difficulty.
For once, you don't need to bring food or torches — there are no hunger checks, and as soon as you enter the dungeon, the torch icon and retreat button will disappear. (While keys are useless, there is one chest in a secret room halfway down the hallway, with a special item.) You cannot snuff out the torch during this mission, so you cannot gain the benefits of low-light trinkets such as Moon Ring and Dark Crown, but high light trinkets (like the Ancestor's Candle or the Sun Ring) will work.
As you proceed down the hall, you'll run into the Ancestor, who will give a few speeches explaining his motives. Once you enter the final room, your party will have to fight him.
You still foolishly consider yourself an entity separate from the whole. I know better. And I. will. show you.
The Ancestor himself has only 5HP in this first phase but is immune to all forms of damage. He will summon 3 Perfect Reflections at the start of the fight. Aim to kill at least one Reflection per turn, so that he will be forced to summon more during his turn, otherwise he will heal the Reflections with Time Mends All. The Reflections, on the turn they are summoned, will not have any actions, so it pays to eliminate as many of them as possible to reduce the number of enemy actions you're facing.
While summoning more Reflections, the Ancestor may use either Sporadic Reproduction or Imperfect Reproduction, and both moves have a chance of creating an Imperfect Reflection. Killing that will do 1 damage to the Ancestor. Grind through the Reflections, making use of their low stun resist to keep them under control, and after the 5th Imperfect Reflection is killed, you will proceed to the next phase of the fight.
The Ancestor's imperfect Debuff resistance could theoretically mean you can debuff his Bleed or Blight resistance and then affect him with a DoT skill to cheese the fight. This is, however, a tedious undertaking.
The flesh is fluid, it can be changed, reshaped, remade!
The Ancestor will grow in size, and then summon 3 Absolute Nothingness. They behave much like the Prophets's pews. While doing absolutely nothing by themselves, they can't be destroyed: they're immune to everything, and have 999 dodge as well as a massive health pool. The Ancestor will constantly change position while dealing high damage and applying bleed. However, his nonexistent Move resistance gives the player the ability to shuffle him into more favorable positions if their team has the ability to do so. When the Ancestor's health is reduced to 0, the Gestating Heart will spawn.
The flesh is immortal, it is undying. Pray it does take not too hideous a form.
The Heart is almost totally defenseless, save for a weak blight attack. Attacking it will actually heal your characters, although there's a chance they'll be blighted as well. Take this moment of reprieve to either heal or buff, or simply tear away at the Gestating Heart for easy health replenishment. Once you either kill the Heart, or three full combat turns pass, it changes form and reveals the final boss: the Heart of Darkness.
Behold the heart of the world! Progenitor of life, father and mother, alpha and omega! Our creator... and our destroyer.
If you trigger this last phase of the fight by depleting the Gestating Heart's HP, the Heart of Darkness begins with a little less health. Otherwise, you have to fight through all 252 of its HP.
The Heart's abilities might seem underwhelming at first: just bleed, blight, and stress attacks, on top of one action per turn. However, it has the hardest-hitting special ability in the game: Come Unto Your Maker, which forces you to pick a hero to suffer an instant deathblow (which ignores all forms of dodge or protection, except guard). It will only use this skill twice: once after its health drops below 2/3 (if you have 4 party members alive) and once after its health falls below 1/3 (if you have 3 party members alive). Choose the hero to die wisely: you really don't want to be left with no attack abilities to finish it off with. However, be advised that these deaths count against the cap in Stygian/Bloodmoon mode so if you are down to two deaths the only way to avoid failure is to bring one hero less than the maximum death count allotted (So if you have only 2 deaths left, bring only three heroes to the expedition, and if you have only one death left bring only two heroes) or you will fail the quest and the game when the hero dies.
Note that you can actually finish off the The Heart before it has a chance of doing its 1-hit-kill attack. It has been done before, using a Leper at the front and 3 Plague Doctors constantly buffing him with Emboldening Vapours, dropping the heart to just above 2/3 HP and getting a crit with the buffed Leper. Be warned that if you fail to do enough damage to kill it and merely bring it from above 2/3 HP to below 1/3 HP, the Heart of Darkness will use Come Unto Your Maker twice in a row.
The Heart of Darkness itself is relatively easy to kill once it's used up its final attack — finish it off with your two survivors to win the game.
|DD4 Map layout with enemies and curios (spoilers)|
Victory... A hollow and ridiculous notion. We are born of this thing, made from it, and we will be returned to it, in time. The great family of man... a profusion of errant flesh! Multiplying, swarming, living, dying... Until the stars align in their inexorable formation and what sleeps is roused once more, to hatch from this fragile shell of earth and rock and bring our inescapable end. So seek solace in a manner befitting your lineage and take up your nugatory vigil, haunted forever by that sickening prose echoing through the infinite blackness of space and time... Ruin has come to our family.
List of Darkest Dungeon Monsters
Unlike other areas of the game, the Darkest Dungeon has a unique list of monsters, meaning that shared monsters do not appear within.
Creatures from the Darkest Dungeon
- Ascended Brawler
- Ascended Witch
- Rapturous Cultist
- Cultist Priest
- Malignant Growth
- Defensive Growth
- Flesh Hound
- Templar Gladiator
- Templar Sniper
- Templar Impaler
- Templar Warlord
- Mammoth Cyst
- White Cell Stalk
- Shuffling Horror
- Perfect Reflection
- Imperfect Reflection
- Absolute Nothingness
- Gestating Heart
These are the Achievements that must be earned within the Darkest Dungeon
|Valiant sacrifice...||Lose all four heroes on a Darkest Dungeon quest|
|In such haste...||Complete the game within 99 Weeks|
|Victory, such as it is...||Complete the game|
|On the old road, we found redemption.||Dismas and Reynauld Made it to the final Darkest Dungeon Quest|
|World End||Complete the game on Stygian (Formerly New Game+)|
|Strict Mode||Complete the game with default difficulty options|
|Like lambs to the slaughter...||Start a Darkest Dungeon quest with four heroes of resolve level 0|
|Entry Level||Complete the game on Radiant|
|Dungeons||Old Road Ruins Warrens Weald Cove Darkest Dungeon|
|DLC Locations||Courtyard Farmstead Butcher's Circus|