Welcome to the town of Darksburg, where you must battle through hordes of Infected as one of four Survivors if you wish to live another day. Darksburg is both developed and published by Shiro Games, and entered into early access on Steam at the beginning of February.
Let me start off by saying that Darksburg is a gorgeous game. The city of Darksburg is surrounded in medieval gothic architecture, beautiful reds and indigo hues, and plagued by droves of the Infected as far as the eye can see. The lighting and atmosphere of the town is definitely on point, with nooks and crannies that have you constantly looking over your shoulder and praying that you didn’t just see an Infected crawl out of that window.
A Werewolf and a Nun walk into a Tavern
You can choose from a diverse cast of four unique characters: Abigail-a nun that acts like more of a battle-hardened cleric or paladin, Runolf-a cheerful gourmet that throws out a lot of delicious, healing food, Varag-a damage-heavy werewolf that likes to throw himself into battle, and Rose (and Twig!)- a delightful, ranged duo composed of a spunky crossbow wielder and her adorably vicious chipmunk.
At the beginning of each campaign, the Survivors start out at a shop where they can purchase upgrades and bonuses. The more you play a survivor, the higher their level will climb, allowing you to unlock additional perks that might help keep your party alive that much longer. Even though you’re technically unlocking more perks, I do wish there was a little more to be gained from progressing in levels. I don’t really feel more powerful as I level up, and like I’m achieving much as I hit each milestone.
Limited, but Stunning Maps
Currently, there are a handful of beautiful, but deadly, isometric maps that you can explore with your friends: Harbour, Faubourg, and the Marketplace. While the first and last are pretty self-explanatory, Faubourg is a rural area covered in wheat that separates the town of Darksburg and the Monastery. Faubourg proved to be one of my favorite maps, because of the added challenge of the tall stalks of wheat. Whenever an enemy moves into the wheat, they become shrouded and vanish from your vision. You will either need to move closer to them to reveal their location or guess their location and throw down aoe abilities to damage them while keeping your distance.
Previous Residents of Darksburg – The Revenants
The Revenants add another interesting challenge to Darksburg. Previously notable figures within the town, the Revenants have been further mutated and corrupted by the infection, and have gained some pretty nasty, enhanced powers as a result. Every time a Revenant appears on the map the narrator calls them out, sending a quick chill down your spine and letting you know you need to GTFO. If you don’t, you could find yourself quickly swarmed by the horde of infected quickly closing in around you while you try to deal with the Revenant threat.
While I initially loved the introductions of the Revenants, their shiny coat started to dull a bit for me. Currently, we only have five Revenants in the game (it is early access), and it can be a bit frustrating to see the same enemies over and over again. I found myself wishing that there might have been a bit more RNG introduced into their visits, with slightly different powers and names, similar to how Diablo throws out randomly generated and powerful monsters. Just something to mix it up a little.
The Revenants are supposed to be more meaningful, with some added lore behind them. Having them appear so frequently felt like it took away much of the meaning behind their appearances. Maybe adding a few more creatures beneath the Revenants that are more powerful than the general hordes would give the encounters some more padding to really feel the impact when a Revenant makes their appearance.
PvP and the Lack Thereof
Aside from the PvE, I was surprised to see the option for PvP as well. I’m a huge fan of the “track down and scare the hell out of your friends” genre, so it was a welcome addition that I just genuinely wasn’t expecting. Unfortunately, I kind of had a hard time finding folks to play with. With Darksburg still being so new and in early access, it’s understandable that the lobby isn’t going to be hopping 24/7. Even so, there’s still tons of fun you can have with your friends that own a copy of the game. However, after playing several rounds of PvP with a friend, it started to feel like the characters might need a little more balancing. The Revenants are powerful, but the Survivors can definitely throw down and wipe you with just a few hits if you get caught out.
Single Player content is also just a little lacking for me. I almost always linked up with a buddy to play because it got kind of boring to play by myself. Though, there are benefits to playing alone. If you’re playing with AI, and don’t have to worry about your companions running off without you or only spamming their auto-attack because they don’t know what they’re doing. You can change how aggressive your companions are in the control panel, as well as tailor your skills and keybinds to your playstyle. As the early access period pushes on, I’m sure that more content will be released to the players and we’ll see more characters, maps, and play modes that we can experience.
Final Thoughts and Scoring
My final score for Darksburg may seem a bit high due to all of the qualities I’ve pointed out above, but I genuinely think that we have a solid foundation for an incredible game on our hands. Every game has to start somewhere, and what I’ve seen so far has been a smooth, fun operation, with tons of potential. I can’t quite judge a game based on what it could be in the future, but in its current state, there is still plenty of fun to be had in Darksburg, especially if you can find a friend to play with. The combat is easy enough to pick up, the characters are interesting, and the game can get pretty damn challenging. It’s also a ton of fun to stream for your friends if you get into a 1v1 match in PvP. The most fun I’ve had yet is playing on the Revenant side and torturing/ambushing my friend from the shadows. If you’d like to try Darksburg out for yourself, you can purchase a copy of it on Steam for $19.99 USD.