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Is Darkest Dungeon free on Epic Games?

To get right to the point – no, Darkest Dungeon is not currently free on the Epic Games Store. Neither the original Darkest Dungeon released in 2016, nor the early access version of the upcoming sequel Darkest Dungeon 2, are being given away for free by Epic at the time of this writing in November 2023.

However, the first Darkest Dungeon has been offered in the past as a free promotional title on Epic for a limited time. Let‘s take a deeper look at this brutally challenging indie roleplaying game series and see why it‘s worth paying for even when not being handed out gratis.

An Addictive, Punishing Dungeon Crawling Experience

As someone who has sunk hundreds of hours into the Darkest Dungeon games, I can personally attest to their incredibly addictive nature. On the surface, Darkest Dungeon appears simple – assemble a party of medieval heroes to delve into monster-infested dungeons in turn-based tactical combat.

But the sheer weight of the interlocking systems that punish you at every turn is astonishing. As the dungeon master, each run becomes an obsession to keep your heroes alive through the meat grinder just a little bit longer.

Managing ever-increasing stress alongside health bars is a constant struggle. Heroes gain new personality traits, vices, and mental afflictions that affect their combat performance in unexpected ways. You continually deal with hunger, disease, diminishing resources, harmful quirks, and accumulating terror. It‘s a balancing act that never lets up.

And when you do fail – which you inevitably will – the punishment is severe. Entire veteran parties can be wiped out in an instant, losing all equipment and progress. Only by slowly amassing knowledge from repeated failures can you hope to make gradual progress on uncovering each dungeon‘s dark secrets.

For masochistic players like myself who relish formidable challenges, Darkest Dungeon delivers a grindingly punishing dungeon experience that always leaves you wanting just one more run. The feeling of finally overcoming a brutal dungeon that destroyed multiple prior parties is exhilarating.

Praise from Critics and Streamers

Beyond just being popular with hardcore challenge seekers, Darkest Dungeon has earned widespread critical acclaim for its ingenious systems and presentation:

  • "An ingeniously structured, emotionally eviscerating dungeon crawler." – IGN (9.1/10)

  • "Darkest Dungeon wrings fresh suffering from familiar tropes, and familiar triumph from fresh suffering." – PC Gamer (86/100)

  • "It‘s a majestic, nightmare descent intoBeautiful ruin…An experience that every gamer should endure." – GameSpot (9/10)

Popular YouTube and Twitch personalities have also sung high praise for Darkest Dungeon on their channels:

  • "The best Lovecraft game I‘ve ever played…just soaked in this wonderful, horrible atmosphere." – Jesse Cox

  • "Darkest Dungeon has become one of my all-time favorite turn-based tactics games." – CohhCarnage

  • "An incredibly challenging experience that constantly forces you to rethink your strategies." – Markiplier

For streamers and content creators, Darkest Dungeon provides endless opportunities for memorable moments to entertain audiences, from miraculous comebacks to tragic party wipes. The stories generated by its merciless systems create great reactions.

Expanding on Gameplay Tips for Newcomers

Earlier I provided some starter tips for getting into Darkest Dungeon‘s complex web of systems. Here are some additional pointers to help new players:

  • Camp often to manage stress – Make sure to camp with your torch above 50 whenever camping is available. Use skills like Encourage and Pep Talk on teetering heroes.

  • Upgrade the Stagecoach first – Invest early Guild points into Stagecoach to get more hero options weekly. A larger roster size helps immensely.

  • Focus on accumulating wealth – Heirlooms earned from dungeons can be converted into much needed gold. You need cash reserves for gear and provisions.

  • Scout ahead when possible – Take advantage of scouting chances to peek at upcoming fights and loot. This allows better battle plans.

  • Bring excess food – Hunger checks often catch parties off guard. Extra food prevents wipe outs. Overprepare provisions in general.

  • Retreat from bosses – Don‘t be ashamed to abandon tough boss fights you aren‘t ready for yet. Retreat to fight another day.

  • Disable certain negative quirks – At the Sanitarium, avoid quirks that remove access to important skills or cause refusal to enter dungeons.

  • Keep multiple saves – Maintain backup save files to revert when things go horribly awry. Saves you from total disaster.

With clever preparation and foresight, you can make tangible progress through the ever-escalating dungeon depths. While Darkest Dungeon will always be punishing, learning from mistakes does pay off over time.

Darkest Dungeon 2 Changes and Additions

Darkest Dungeon 2 entered early access on Epic Games Store in late 2021, bringing some major changes:

Darkest Dungeon 1Darkest Dungeon 2
Static town and dungeon structureProcedurally generated cross-country journey
Limited relationship systemEvolved hero relationship mechanics with affinity
Traditional turn-based combatFaster pace with visible turn order
Dark 2D portraits and spritesVibrant 3D character models
Independent leveling systemShared party progression at inns
Camping skills with limited usesInn buffs with expanding selection

While still fundamentally similar, Darkest Dungeon 2 adopts a more narrative roguelike structure. The scenic backdrop evolves as you journey across the countryside. Heroes now form relationships, gaining potent abilities when affinity is high.

The sequel also modernizes the presentation with full 3D characters and environments. Combat incorporates visible turn order and opportunity attacks instead of traditional initiative. Progression centers around inns using shared team experience.

Overall, the changes help deliver a fresh take on the franchise that distinguishes itself from the original. However, the signature Darkest Dungeon flavor of beautiful suffering remains satisfyingly intact.

Worth Paying For

To recap, while you can no longer grab Darkest Dungeon free on the Epic Store, the ability to permanently add it to your library was merely a fleeting promotion. Darkest Dungeon‘s critical acclaim and devoted fanbase are testament to its superlative game design.

The sequel Darkest Dungeon 2 also retains the uncompromising difficulty and depth that define the series. Both titles deliver hundreds of hours of challenging, high stakes dungeon crawling happiness. Their excellent post-launch content support further adds value.

So if you missed the free promotion window, don‘t fret. When on sale, Darkest Dungeon is absolutely worth paying full price for. In fact, you‘re doing yourself a favor by supporting the small indie studio Red Hook. For fans of merciless, intricately crafted RPG experiences, accept no substitutes. Heed the call, make your sacrifices, and descend into the sprawling ancestral halls. Madness and death await!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.