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Secrets and wonders can be found in the most tenebrous corners of this place.
The Ancestor

  • Battles against Ectoplasms and/or Large Ectoplasms (only when they are the only monsters involved in the fight) don't grant any loot at all. Since said monsters are nothing but incomplete skeletons of swordsmen totally embedded in a huge mass of goo, it wouldn't contain anything useful, as any item the heroes could theoretically find after searching through the remains would be too filthy or too damaged to be valuable anymore.
  • The final boss is mocking you and your struggle. Specifically, the final boss is a general metaphor for the damage you (the heir) have done to both foe and ally alike to get this far.
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    • The first stage involves defeating clones of the Ancestor, where each kill of a mutated clone will damage the otherwise invincible boss. This fight represents your willingness to murder anything and anyone in your way and butcher that which is outright disgusting, all to deal Scratch Damage to the final boss.
    • The second stage involves a tug-of-war between your characters and the Ancestor avatar and the abyssal pits of darkness allied with him. The three abyssal pits of darkness represent everything you can't easily defeat or understand. In other words, metaphorically speaking, the abyssal pits are the strange things going on in the world you (the heir) never attempt to fix, such as the corruption in the Weald. The Ancestor avatar itself is the "easy path", such as the destruction of the low-health psychological-damaging enemies over the more robust, physically stronger foes, or just the destruction of monsters over solving the long-term issues of the Hamlet beyond monsters, including the abundance of disease and the Hamlet's isolation.
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    • The third stage is a Breather Episode, allowing your characters to heal nearly all damage but likely inflicting blight, symbolizing how your hamlet is, at the moment, a safe haven. As the blight represents, however, the toll of the dungeons still inflicts scars. Heroes must be sent to the Sanitarium, Church, or Tavern in order to "fully" recover from the mental scars accumulated dungeon run after dungeon run; these recoveries can be easily undone after one dungeon run, regardless of how much gold was spent.
    • The final stage is straightforward enough, but, outside of taking certain precautions and sheer luck being on your side, you will lose at least 2 heroes, cementing that no matter what, you were always ultimately sending them on a suicide mission.
  • While the ending is suitably dark for the genre, there are hints that the Heart of Darkness was lying: for one thing, the conclusion it was promising to the world when the stars align is out of line with its demonstrated abilities, and when you first reach the Heart, it even admits that it is a lying, manipulative monstrosity that tricked you into coming to the Estate. Furthermore, the presence of Light-aligned characters with divine powers, divine visions of greater beings, and holy shrines indicates that there are benevolent powers defending the world and supporting humanity. With this in mind, the last words of the Heart seem less like a prophecy of inevitable doom and more like the the last spiteful words of a defeated villain who is trying to get one last hit in before expiring.
  • There are subtle implications that the entire Estate is trapped in some form of time-space anomaly starting after the Ancestor committed suicide. The fact that the Heir bears a suspicious resemblance to the Ancestor and that, despite each hero having a distinct background, you can recruit multiple copies of them, and no matter how many times you kill each boss, a new one will appear in the dungeons, implies that something is weird with timelines and history, and that your heroes and the bosses and enemies are all coming from slightly different timelines or universes. It is possible that, due to his connection to the Heart, the Ancestor committing suicide somehow wounded or affected it, warping spacetime around the Estate, and that the Heir, upon doing the same after wounding the Heart, may well have locked the entire Estate into a permanent "Groundhog Day" Loop and trapped the Heart in a never-ending cycle of emerging and being slain by the same group of unfortunate heroes being pulled from countless alternate universes. In effect, while the Heir couldn't permanently kill the Heart, they instead managed to trap it forever in a repeating cycle at the Estate, saving the rest of the world while damning themselves and the heroes who fought for them.
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    • The theory that the Estate is trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop is further supported by Color of Madness, where a comparable entity to the Heart of Darkness is causing the entire Farmstead to be trapped in an endless time loop. In fact, it's entirely possible that both entities are locking each other into a time loop due to the Heir and their heroes repeatedly killing them.
  • Why is the animation for the Swine Drummer's Drums of Doom attack a shot of the heroes' skulls cracking in half? Because he's giving them a splitting headache.
  • The Abomination has a Prayer skill. In some cultures, Werewolves are actually good creatures.
  • When facing "Come Unto Your Maker", many heroes respond to it with courage, acceptance, or even welcoming their deaths, whereas elsewhere in the game, their reaction to impending death and high stress is madness and various afflictions. The reason why they are so calm and accepting in this situation and not in others is because in other battles, they are often fighting for the Heir's objectives, while when facing the Heart of Darkness, they are facing a meaningful end — whether for their faith, for the good of others, or their own redemption. While they might want to fight for gold and glory and for the betterment of others in the other quests across the Estate's lands, the Heart of Darkness is a truly final foe, and an enemy that they can redeem themselves against in battle — which, as we can tell from many heroes' backstories, is something they've been desperately seeking in coming to the Estate in the first place. For this reason, the heroes who care for their fellows, want to fight evil, or seek to right their wrongs will respond with acceptance and even joy at being chosen, while the heroes who are more selfish and only questing in the Estate for wealth and personal glory will respond with fear and terror at being selected.
  • Smashing a Bas-Relief with a shovel causes a whoppin' 100 stress to the smasher. That's because it's a depiction of the Heart of Darkness waiting to awaken to destroy the world.
  • Why does it cost money to send your heroes to the Abbey's services? Because while the Abbey is likely open for everyone to come in and visit and pray and get emotional support and penance, you are essentially paying not only for one of your heroes to go there, but for the priests to pay special attention to that individual, as well as tend to them and probably feed and give them a place to sleep within the Abbey grounds for an entire week. That, and you're likely including a sizable amount of that gold as donations and offerings to the Abbey for the hero to give while they're praying or meditating. As for the Penance Chamber, you're likely paying extra gold not just for the "service" but also for medical treatments so your hero doesn't get sick or infected during their... "treatments."
  • The Big Bad of the Crimson Court DLC and the progenitor of the mosquito-themed vampires is a countess instead of a count. Of course she'd be female, since female mosquitoes are the ones that suck blood and spread disease. As for the several male Bloodsuckers, their bloodsucking male mosquito motif is not natural, being a curse from drinking her blood.
  • Why are shovels so expensive, and break after a single use? Well, going by the intro, the Ancestor already bought up all the sturdy shovels, leaving you with the shoddy ones and a general shortage that would naturally bring up the price through the rules of supply and demand...
    • Also, "shovels" are a stand-in for a number of tools, such as hammers and pickaxes, and they're being put to rough use with being implemented to clear entire blockages. And in order to quickly hew down trees and smash through collapsed tunnels and blocked corridors without leaving them vulnerable to an attack from behind, they'll no doubt he treating such tools harshly, likely breaking them in their haste to clear a path.
    • There's also reasons why the "shovels" used on certain curios are rendered unusable. The ones used to force open the giant oysters are probably broken or unusable due to the torque in the oyster slamming closed on the tool's head or shaft. Display cases are almost always trapped, so when they are used to smash open the cases, either the tool is damaged by the trap or is likely has some poisons or toxins spread across the tool, damaging it or rendering it unsafe. Using it on a bas-relief in the Cove likely has a similar effect, either breaking the tool in the process of destroying the mural, or The Heart of Darkness cursing the tool, and your heroes casting it aside.
  • The icon for the Occultist's "Unspeakable Commune" skill looks like the hands in The Creation of Adam... except God's hand is replaced with a tentacle. A clever bit of foreshadowing about the origins of humanity.
  • The Rare Antique that the Antiquarian can find is a statue of tentacles rising up around a humanoid figure. Just like the Heart's "Come Unto Your Maker" attack.
  • Why is the Thing From The Stars getting such a massive damage and crit increase together with the defense and speed with its buff? Because as the heroes have carved off all of its soft "dead weight" from its body, its crystal parts can move a lot faster and precise, allowing it to throw more force behind its pure attacks. Similarly, its massive PROT boost is because you're no longer cutting away at the dead flesh covering it, but instead hitting the hardened crystal underneath that makes up the Thing's actual body.
  • The Abomination's "Anger Management" camping skill has him meditate to suppress the beast. Ironically, this increases his own stress, but decreases the other heroes' stress. The reason for this is that the Abomination is actively suppressing all of his "abnormal" aspects, which would obviously cause a lot of stress; but his companions, seeing that he doesn't want to hurt them - and that, in fact, he's actively trying to fight the beast - feel relieved.
  • The Swine King is said to have earned his position because he's the only Swinefolk that can stand up to the Formless Flesh. Of course he can - The Formless Flesh is extremely weak to AoE physical attacks and the Swine King has the strongest physical AoE attack in the game.
  • Why does the Hellion have very little skills that move her around at all, and her only one moves her forward, making her into The Berserker? Because with her comic we saw that her backstory has her leaving her tribe to be butchered in battle as she hid in fear; she's attempting to put on a brave face and leave her cowardice behind.
  • When the first mission of the Darkest Dungeon is complete, the town Npcs flicker between their normal appearance and corrupted, flesh-riddled versions of themselves. At first the player might be tempted to think that the Darkest Dungeon has driven the Heir insane, that the Npcs are being corrupted, or worse of all, that they've been working against you the entire time. In truth, a veil has been lifted. You're seeing humanity for what it always has been: an extension of the Heart of Darkness.

  • Undertaking an extermination quest in the Warrens will sometimes have the Ancestor comment that the swine breed quickly... but none of the swine you encounter appear to be female. Take into account that the Ancestor admits to abducting villagers and sending them into the Warrens for the swine to feed on, and things get unpleasant really quickly.
    • There are the possibilities of the swines turning more humans into swines or swine females looking just as ugly as their male counterparts. Neither of which are any better.
    • The breeding is most likely swine-on-swine. The unsanitary conditions, and the swine penchant for violence, pretty much means a pregnancy would need to come to term within a week, because most captives wouldn’t live longer than that.
    • Most swine are categorized as Beast/Human, so humans becoming swine isn't out of the question.
    • The human part was probably already established during the initial experiments. Everything the party sees is whatever came after those first steps.
  • "The Swine are resistant to disease, thanks to their unclean living." The only way for that to happen is for several generations of swine to be born down in the Warrens, the weakest would die off because of disease, and the survivors would give birth to a more resistant generation, according to evolutionary theory. How long have the swine been down there?
    • It could be that the Swines have very short lifespans.
    • Natural selection is not, in fact, the only way for that to happen; frequent exposure to disease would cause the swine to develop strong immune systems and resistances to whatever diseases are most common in the swine warrens (based on the Swine Wretch's output, that would be "basically anything"). Doesn't rule out a long time in the pit, though.
    • Remember: the swine are failed experiments. Their genome could have been made more pliable as a result of the rapid breeding and exposure to disease.
  • Some of the negative character quirks are the sort that, in real life would, not be considered negative at all — they might even be seen as quite beneficial. A character may consider themselves enlightened or acquire a love interest, for instance. And, just like any other negative quirk, these can be removed in the asylum. Just what manner of treatments are they doing there?
    • It may be less terrible than it seems, thanks to the misleading names of the quirks. "Enlightened" and "Love Interest" respectively mean "only meditation decreases stress" and "only the brothel decreases stress", implying that the character has an obsessive interest in said activities (which is a sign of actual mental problems; Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Codependent Disorder, respectively).
    • While many of the quirk names are likely misleading, there is still the fact that regardless of that... You can go to a sanitarium, and Lock In a positive trait. Meaning that you have irreparably changed a part of that character's personality.
    • Another way to look at it: the trait’s negative because it impedes that character’s ability to serve you. They get sent to meditate on how to serve you. The activities at the bar are the ‘carrot’, and the sanitarium + church are the ‘stick’.
  • A minor example for the Gibbering Prophet sets in once you realize that those are his eyes that he's holding in his left hand.
  • "The Sarcophagus is completely empty."
    • Considering that the sarcophagus has what appears to be a statue of a knight on its lid, it may be the sarcophagus for a warrior in the hamlet. A warrior who is now undead and who you may have, in fact just killed. Or maybe not...
  • One of things that the narrator can say upon you re-entering the hamlet is that there is a "Crawling Chaos" beneath the manor. The Crawling Chaos is one of the titles of Nyarlathotep, one of the most powerful Outer Gods in the Cthulhu Mythos... you may feel true fear now. Even if what lurks under the manor is simply based off of him.
  • The Occultist will state, "Finally, the face of my tormentor. Come, then," when sacrificed to the Heart of Darkness. Unless the Occultist saw/felt something the rest of the party (and the player) could not see, this statement (plus how the tentacles he uses and the ones the cultist witches use are eerily similar to each other) implies that the Occultist gets his powers from the Heart of Darkness.
    • The Heart is capable of possessing the Occultist... so it is probably capable of mentally influencing any human who has established a link to it. Which certainly explains the Wrong Genre Savvy and Idiot Ball actions of your Ancestor. Not to mention the horrible cruelty of humanoid enemies, and the Kill All Humans mentality of the local monsters. Learning the black magic of the setting probably opens your mind up to the Heart.
    • And speaking of possessing the Occultist, consider that one of his lines is "DIE ANOTHER DAY, MORTAL. I HAVE NEED OF YOU" when he is given a virtue, and this is considered a good thing, consider the possibilities of what this could mean...
    • Considering that there are clearly other divine and supernatural entities in the universe, it is possible that the Occultist is drawing power from a different being, or from multiple beings altogether. One could be possessing him when he becomes afflicted or virtuous, and another could be the Heart.
  • If the Heart truly is the creator of humanity, it begs the question of what exactly is the true source and nature of the Religious characters' "holy" powers...
  • Assuming the Heart truly is the progenitor and source of humanity and humans are merely its pieces, this puts humans' efforts against it in a whole new disturbing light. Humans are essentially cancer to the Heart.
    • Unlike real-life cancer that eventually spells death to whoever has it, the Heart of Darkness will ultimately overtake the humans with or without help, unless the epilogue was incorrect. If anything, humans are more like an annoying fever to the Heart rather than cancer. Humanity, at the moment, is enough to keep the Heart bedridden (asleep), but not enough to kill it.
  • The Madman enemy type is a bit of a curiosity. Dressed in torn straitjackets and a tortured, wizened frame, they bear no particular allegiance to any enemy faction, yet can appear in any dungeon as part of any enemy mob. The frequency at which they are encountered makes one wonder how so many haggard lunatics ended up spread out all over the estate; then you remember that, upon your arrival, the Sanitarium of the Hamlet appears to have been abandoned for quite some time...
    • Another consideration; given the tempting power of the Darkest Dungeon, it's likely they're choosing to stick around, making their way steadily towards the epicenter of corruption. What becomes of those who make it? Given that the other enemy types within have clear, "unevolved" counterparts in other dungeons, it appears the Madmen level up too.
  • Bedtime Story and Childhood treasure, given their connection, it was strongly hinted that the Arbalest's father made the doll from the dead carcass of a hare he hunted that he must be proud of and gave it to the Arbalest and then gave the bow to her in his final moments.
  • The Leper can visit the Brothel.
  • The thing from the comet can summon enemies from timelines where it won. Keep in mind that entails it growing to maturity and fighting the Heart for dominion over the planet. This means the thing is strong enough at full power to decisively beat the Heart.
  • The Sanguine Vintners district provides a constant supply of the Blood. Where exactly are they getting the raw materials?
  • The blood suckers standing in the background of the courtyard, and the fact they don’t swarm you in self defense? The groups you fight are the ones that think they can take you. The ones in the audience are watching you kill their friends for their own entertainment. Oh, and those bloodsuckers that decided to fight you head on? They really don't care about putting up a show for the others, they're just the ones so hungry that they want the first dips on the "fresh meat" which just got served to the court.
  • The fact that the whole group participates in the Shieldbreaker’s nightmares, and they provide trinkets that are used by any other, means they’re real. Worse yet, there’s nothing magical about her back story. Every night she rests, her mind manifests snakes in the real world that try to kill her. Her past trauma alone is enough to make that happen.
  • An interview with the developers stated that the sequel would give players a glimpse of the supernatural apocalypse affecting the world beyond the estate. Either the Heir's efforts to defeat the Heart of Darkness failed or that the Heart and the Sleeper aren't the only eldritch horrors plaguing humanity.
  • Among nobility and royalty, a Countess is fairly high-ranked but nowhere close to the top. What if there are bloodsuckers even more powerful than the Countess lurking elsewhere in the world outside the Estate, waiting to sweep in to fill the power vacuum left behind by the Countess' demise? Imagine how difficult it would be to fight a Duke/Duchess, a Prince/Princess, or (Light forbid) an Emperor/Empress!
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