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"In the howling darkness of the end... men will become monsters...
...but hope will ride with those courageous enough to carry...
...The Flame!"
The Academic
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Darkest Dungeon 2 is the sequel to the acclaimed 2016 Gothic Horror Dungeon Crawling RPG Darkest Dungeon, developed by Red Hook Studios. The game is available in early access through the Epic Games Store since Oct. 26, 2021.

You are the protegee and friend of the Academic. One night, the Academic confronts you and informs you that your worst calculations have come. A malevolent eldritch power is affecting the entire earth, driving the population mad, stirring the dead, corrupting the land and its inhabitants, and driving onward hordes of monsters. The Academic gives you the last scraps of Hope, a mere spark which you fit on the Torch at the top of your stagecoach. It is now up to you and your party of four heroes to cross the land in your solid stagecoach and reach the Mountain, the lair and prison of the source of the evil that has cursed the planet, and to slay its occupants.

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Darkest Dungeon II's gameplay is noticeably different from its prior installment. Instead of sending parties of heroes to explore one land, the Estate, you now have to assemble one team of four Heroes available in your roster, but this time, you must cross large distances while trying to manage them the best you can the whole way, with few options to change the composition of your team. You must now ride across the land, choose which path is preferable, fight through malevolent humans and monsters alike, scour the monster lairs on the side of the road, and assist the remaining few good people that you come across. The combat system remains a 4v4 Turn-Based Combat with the same health and stress bars, with notable tweaks to it such as an emphasis on special Status Effects, as well as teamwork. The Affliction system has now been abandoned for the Affinity mechanism, as actions in and out of battle affect the relationships between your heroes and these positive or negative relationships will greatly affect how the heroes do in battle.

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Previews: "The Howling End," "A Glimmer of Hope," "Road of Ruin."


Darkest Dungeon 2‘s tropes... have found you at last!

  • Action Bomb: The Sacrificial enemy in the Sprawl. It does nothing but advance one rank per turn... until it reaches the front rank, where it will explode and deal massive damage to your party.
  • Action Initiative: The speed stat (plus a random roll of 1d6) determines who gets to act first during a single turn. There are ways to buff one's speed or debuff the enemy's speed, notably some trinkets or a skill.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal:
    • A significant number of trinkets have alliterative names. After collecting a few, you might be using such trinkets as Rousing Recorder, Parrying Patriarch, Gnarly Knuckles, Clotting Cruor, and Cleansing Censer.
    • The Plague Doctor herself dabbles in this when given certain items:
    "Practicing pugilism prepares properly!"
  • Advancing Boss of Doom:
    • Downplayed by the Harvest Child. It starts in the back rank, where its only attacks are very weak, but move it forward 1 rank. When it reaches the front rank, it will use a powerful attack, then retreat to the back rank to start the cycle again. While you may be tempted to kill the meat stacks accompanying it, doing so will keep it in the front rank for the rest of the battle, quickly devastating you.
    • The Librarian starts in the back rank, buffered by three stacks of books. He will regularly destroy stacks, causing him to slowly advance. Once he reaches the front rank, he will ignite, at which point he will use a powerful Area of Effect attack every turn. You'll want to kill or at least severely weaken him before he reaches this point, or you're toast.
  • After the End: Downplayed, but only in the sense it's rather During the End; Darkest Dungeon 2 takes place just after an unknown cosmic event (implied to be the destruction of the Heart of Darkness from the first game) has sent the world "into a spiral of madness"… which isn't an exaggeration in any sense; the world really has gone to hell in a handbasket. Entire cities are alit in flames from marauding bands of bandits and doomsday cults springing up. The woods are now infested with the remnants of fallen armies; undead soldiers infused with roots and trees. The few people still sane cling to themselves hopelessly, traveling in roving bands on the road, or holed up in fortified inns. The world of Darkest Dungeon has become a Cosmic Horror Story Hell on Earth.
  • A House Divided: If negative relationships develop between the heroes, they'll spend more time sabotaging each other than fighting the enemies, often leaving them sitting ducks.
    • Amusingly, this can get so extreme that it will loop back around to heroes recovering sanity when their comrades are injured, because they just hate them that much.
  • Alien Kudzu: Mixed with Evil Is Visceral. The Foetor, once a prosperous land where farmers lived a simple and peaceful life, has been covered in masses of flesh and gore. It is only fitting for the land of the Plague Eaters to be covered in the same mutated growth.
  • Animate Body Parts: The final bosses of each confession are various organs of the world. So far, "Denial" is a brain, "Resentment" is a set of lungs, and "Obsession" is many eyes. Naturally, this leads to Our Monsters Are Weird.
  • Animation Bump: The animation for all the characters and enemies has been greatly improved upon. Not only do they have better idle animations, they also have many more single animations for unique situations. For some examples, a hero prepping themselves for a particular skill during battle, the skills themselves being fully animated instead of being a single frame, or a fighter crouching down with an exhausted look when they enter Death's Door.
  • Anti-Regeneration: The Final Boss of the "Denial" chapter has a Power Nullifier that prevents you from using any healing abilities for a round.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: A major theme of the game, with the main factions explicitly representing one of several potential reactions to an oncoming apocalypse - catatonic lethargy (The Lost Battalion), gluttonous hedonism (The Plague Eaters), anarchic fury (The Fanatics), desperate self-preservation (The Shroud's fisherfolk), and apocalyptic fervour (The Cultists).
  • Apocalypse How: Planetary. The narrator speaks of an unbalanced ephemeral equation and that the Earth now spins on a "strange and terrifying new axis". This has caused total societal collapse as the whole population went mad, with only a desperate few still clinging on to their sanity and hope. Whole cities are devastated, large parts of the land are now covered in eldritch gore, and there are more monsters than ever. Not all hope is lost, though it barely fits in one's palm, and a party of Heroes can reach the Mountain to stop whatever monster is causing this catastrophe.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The size limit for your active party is again set at four heroes.
  • Arc Symbol: The Stress symbol returns in full glory, along with the odd shape of the mountain you need to go to, with its split in the center. Every time you reach an Inn, the camera pans to show the mountain getting closer. The Stress symbol is also given a proper name after you beat Denial: the Iron Crown.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: With the removal of a dedicated damage reduction stat, these now work a bit differently: they simply ignore any Block tokens the target has. Some attacks can ignore Dodge tokens too.
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: The original game had a dark chibi, 2D art style. Now, the characters are rendered in cel-shaded 3D with more realistic proportions.
  • At the Crossroads: Darkest Dungeon 2 emphasizes travel, and thus crossroads take on bigger meaning. Firstly, the Crossroads is a landmark at which the player chooses the Heroes that will be in their party. Secondly, the navigation highlights the idea of choosing between different paths at the crossroads.
  • The Atoner:
    • A major theme of the game is acknowledging and making up for past mistakes, as remarked upon by the developers. Appropriately, the main character is implied to be embarking on their quest in a desperate attempt to atone for some unknown past crime of theirs, with their unsigned list of confessions listing several things they seem need to atone for.
    • The Man-at-Arms became this after his younger self was promoted to a command he wasn't ready for and got most of his men slaughtered as a result, demoting himself to the rank of a common soldier, putting his comrades' wandering souls to rest, and swearing to learn how to command from the ground up as a means of atoning for his tactical failures.
  • A World Half Full: A theme of the game. The world may be going to hell in a handbasket, but not everyone has succumbed to madness or despair. It's reflected in gameplay, too; helping those you meet along the way keeps the flame of hope alive, while braving challenging encounters lowers the loathing in an area.
  • Badass Normal: Most of the heroes, even moreso than in the first game. Characters using faith-based magic are notably absent here, leaving only the Occultist with explicitly supernatural powers. (At most, a few abilities like Highway Robbery are Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.) The heroes are all ordinary people armed with only their own grit and skill against Eldritch Abominations.
  • Bag of Sharing: Bar the one slot for combat items for each hero, the party shares one big inventory which can be increased with the right stagecoach upgrades. There are more slots to the inventory, but there are many items of different types and all of them stack poorly. Between the in-game currencies (relics and baubles), the inn items, stagecoach items, trinkets, and combat items, the player will soon find themselves short on space and must consider what they truly need for the journey.
  • Barrier Change Boss: Deacons begin each battle by using "The Flesh Warps", a skill that halves incoming damage from either melee or ranged attacks. This buff persists for the entire battle, but switches which type it protects from every round, encouraging you to vary your attacks in sync.
  • Battle Couple: What happens when two heroes develop the Amorous relationship. It is usually very positive to have Amourous heroes, except when one hero's stress increases when their loved one is injured, or when there is jealousy over another relationship.
  • Bear Trap: The Bear Trap is a combat item which can be used to immobilize an enemy, befitting its normal use as a hunting trap, and inflict medium bleed damage as the jaws of the trap pin an enemy down.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: When a Drummer is the only enemy left alive in a battle, who is an enemy only vaguely capable of harming your heroes (capable of doing around two damage to one of them and causing stress if they use the Focus Fire move on one of them) and mostly exists to buff its allies, it will activate "Death Before Dishonor", which causes it to be killed and cause stress to your entire party. Even while it's a reanimated skeleton of a drummer… which may be why it causes stress to your party, since they probably weren't expecting such a sign of humanity left in it.
  • Big Good: The Academic, your patron — after being booted back to the Valley by your death, he leaves you a supply crate, and the ember of Hope needed to possibly save the world in the intro.
  • Big "NO!": Characters' reaction to their Inseparable partner getting injured is a "No!" drawn out to stay on-screen for as long as a full sentence, implying it's screamed out like this.
  • Bishōnen Line: Most Cultists are Cthulhumanoids, but the strongest one, the Exemplar, is a beautiful (though warped) human figure, with one of its attacks even being called "Rapturous Beauty". The Academic believes it was made as a mockery of the human form.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Some positive quirks have downsides. They usually aren't severe enough to be a concern, but for some characters they can be a nightmare. The Breacher quirk, which automatically pushes the character to the front rank and makes them Draw Aggro, is particularly infamous for spawning on squishy backline heroes to disastrous results.
    • Amorous and Inseparable relationships, despite being "positive", come with some pretty frustrating downsides. They can randomly cause a hero's partner to become a Clingy Jealous Girl, preventing them from using support skills on other heroes even if said skill could mean the difference between life and death. In Inseparable's case, this can also prevent them from moving — better hope enemies never shove them out of their preferred position.
  • Blinded by the Light: One of the combat items is the Pyrotechnic Dazzler (essentially a bundle of firecrackers) which is used to daze one enemy and may stun them as the firecrackers explode and blind a single target.
  • Blow That Horn: The party can use the War Horn combat item. When blown, it presumably inspires the heroes a lot and grants the party a strength bonus.
  • Bonus Dungeon: Venturing into the Sluice provides an opportunity for mastery points and loot, but it doesn't have any bosses and doesn't progress your journey toward the Mountain. It also has a smaller pool of possible encounters, so there tends to be more combat and less time to heal in-between.
  • Book Burning: The Librarian lair boss in the sprawl inflicts stress damage on the heroes by burning stacks of books. The heroes lament the loss of centuries of knowledge and culture whenever this happens. This is also the hat of the Fanatic faction (to which the Librarian belongs) in general, with them often burning books during their rampages through the Sprawl.
  • Breath Weapon: The Seething Sigh, a massive, animate lung, uses this to attack. Though it uses a blast of energy with its "Blind Rage" attack, even its regular breath seems to be harmful, as its most powerful attack shows no visible flames or projectiles.
  • Caltrops: The Bounty Hunter still has his Caltrops skill. It does little upfront damage, but inflicts bleeding and movement debuffs. There is also a standalone item called Crow's Feet, which does about the same thing, but is a single-use consumable.
  • Cel Shading: Cel shading is used on the 3D models to reproduce the flat black shadows of the original games, providing continuity in art style despite the use of 3D this time around.
  • Characterization Marches On: In the original release of the first game, the Leper was closed-minded and openly bigoted against the Abomination. In this game, he's practically The Heart of the cast and his backstory focuses on his compassion and kindness.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl/Crazy Jealous Guy: Heroes in an amorous relationship will get jealous if you attempt to use healing or buffing skills on someone else and may block the action, regardless of who needs it the most.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: Done intentionally as Gameplay and Story Integration.
    • In the Man-at-arms' second Shrine flashback, his skills all do the opposite of what the tooltip claims they'll do: trying to strengthen your troops actually weakens them, and trying to protect them makes them vulnerable. This reflects how, despite his officer training, he was unprepared for an actual battle.
    • In the Plague Doctor's fourth Shrine chapter, her "Stitch" skill claims to cure bleeding, but in fact worsens it. When used, the Plague Doctor exclaims that her reanimated professor's flesh is deteriorating faster than she can fix it.
  • Concussion Frags: The Thunderclap Grenade is a powerful combat item which can inflict a party shuffle once it is used, its name suggesting that it explodes and emits a lot of light and noise to confuse the enemy ranks.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the first game, the first four characters you receive are called "The Usual Suspects." In this game, they're called the "The Unusual Suspects."
    • When trudging through the Sluice, the Academic remarks that the first sightings of the Swinefolk were reported from a small hamlet on the west coast.
    • In the Jester's first backstory chapter, the pose and instrument of the old man resembles the Squiffy Ghast enemy from the first game; furthermore, said enemy focuses more on attacking the Jester if present in the party.
    • The Hoarder is the Caretaker sent Wandering the Earth by the Hamlet's destruction. He's even got Portraits and Busts poking out of his backpack.
    • When buying a trinket from the Hoarder, one of your heroes may drop the Ancestor's "Trinkets and baubles, paid for in blood," line from the first game.
    • The Blood from the Crimson Court DLC can be found from an Academic's Study as a combat item; thankfully, it doesn't infect the heroes with the curse when consumed.
    • A portrait depicting the Ancestor can be found in a specific Academic's Study encounter.
    • One of the inn proprietors is the nomad merchant from the first game.
    • One of the inns is called "The Vestal's Secret", which is mentioned to contain racy literature. This is a reference to the Vestal's backstory comic in the first game, which shows her having a conflict between her religious vows and her Perverse Sexual Lust (as well as her Crimson Court trinket, the Salacious Diary.) It's also been speculated that the Vestal could be the owner of said inn.
    • One of the Harvest Child's attacks is "Maws of Life", the same attack used by the Formless Flesh in the first game.
    • Wilbur returns as a proper semi-boss character who uses the Swine King's signature moves, Obliterate Masses and Obliterate Body.
    • The Antiquarian returns as a Support Party Member for the Bandits, having pulled a Face–Heel Turn during the interim out of the desire for greater riches.
  • Counter-Attack:
    • Ripostes return from the previous game. Like all tokens, they now apply per-use rather than per-turn, meaning you can exhaust a riposte by attacking the target enough times.
    • Some positive relationships will cause the paired character to counter-attack if their friend is attacked.
  • Creepy Cathedral: At the end of each area, the party must fight at Oblivion's Rampart, which is a dark cathedral seeping with the void and invaded with tentacles. There is also some Dramatic Thunder behind the Rampart for emphasis. Inside, some of the strongest Cultists lurk and the party has to eliminate them in order to progress.
  • Critical Hit Class:
    • The Graver Robber's attacks have high critical rate and wide damage variance. Since critical hits always deal maximum damage, her regular attacks are unreliable, but her criticals are very powerful. She gains a huge critical bonus when attacking combo-primed targets to help with this.
    • The Leper's regular attacks are as strong as most characters' crits, but his accuracy is even worse than in the first game, as his attacks have a high chance to saddle him with a Blind token. This makes him even more of an all-or-nothing character than Grave Robber.
  • Critical Status Buff:
    • Like the Flagellant from the first game, the Hellion gains large bonuses to damage at half and quarter health.
    • Knight enemies in the Tangle will gain stat buffs on Death's Door rather than gaining Weak tokens like all other characters.
  • Cthulhumanoid: The Cultists from the first game have completed their transformations, retaining only generally humanoid proportions as they have evolved into strange squid creatures.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Just like in the first game, some diseases and negative quirks actually have positive features, which in some cases can actually be worth their drawbacks. The Tarantism disease, in particular, is so good some players deliberately seek it out.Why? 
  • Cut and Paste Environments: The background during the stagecoach driving sequences is filled with 2D sprites for litter on the road, buildings and trees on the side of the road, and other minor landmarks. The variety and quality of the sprite helps alleviate the feeling of repetitiveness of the environment, however.
  • Dance Battler: The Jester dabbled with this style in the first game, but now embodies it. In addition to the back-and-forth of his Solo & Finale combo, he now moves while executing both of his basic attacks, causing him to engage in constant motion as he fights. He also has abilities to move his allies backwards and forwards, allowing your other heroes to become dance battlers as well.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff:
    • The Vulnerable token, which increases damage taken from the next attack by 50%. The Marked status from the first game also returns, but currently it's only used by one enemy.
    • The Combo token adds a variety of different effects to attacks hitting the target, which can be either extra damage or an additional Status Effect.
  • Damage Over Time: The DOT game mechanism makes a return. In addition to the Bleed and Blight effects, there is now the Burning effect, which represents when heroes or monsters are set on fire, with the appropriate skills to inflict it and items to cure it.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Just like the first game, keeping your torch bright will provide buffs to the party, while dim light will buff the monsters. If your Flame reaches 0, the party is immediately attacked by a band of cultists.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The Sprawl is full of dead bodies and flayed skins hung up in gibbets or suspended from hooks, courtesy of the rampaging Fanatics.
  • Deadly Road Trip: The game revolves around this - the only way to travel from one location to another is by a stagecoach, which has to fight through the monster-choked roads to get anywhere.
  • Death Mountain: The Mountain is the end point of every expedition. Looming on the horizon, this ice-covered twin peak mountain is the home of an eldritch abomination from which Cultists come to harass the heroes. Once you reach it, though, your party doesn't climb it, but instead follows the road until they reach a great cavern at the base of the mountain, where they fight the final boss.
  • Death Seeker: This is now one of the quirks heroes can gain. It's actually considered a positive quirk, as it reduces stress when the hero is on Death's Door. There is also a separate quirk, "Thanatomania", that makes heroes obsessed with death and spirituality.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • One of the main currencies in the game is Hope, which is represented by candles you can find during a run. You also gain a set amount by completing various objectives (such as completing the valley, killing bosses, helping more people etc.) Which are then tallied at the end of a run. If by some ungodly misfortune you end a run having gotten zero hope (Which is only possible if you don’t beat the valley, the tutorial level of every run basically) all you get at the results screen is the message “You were right to fear the world..”
    • The bounty hunter is a recruitable temporary hero who can offer to replace one of your party members at the cost of some hope. It is stated that he has no past, and no future. Attempting to take him to a Hero Shrine will simply have him snort and leave the area.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: During the stagecoach sequences, it is encouraged to run over everything that litters the road, from bushes to piles of burning books. They sometimes yield small rewards like relics or supplies, and there is no penalty for running into them.
  • Draw Aggro:
    • The Taunt token forces enemies to attack the affected character if able. It is technically considered a negative token, as enemies can apply it to focus-fire vulnerable characters, but you can also use it to help your tanks draw attacks. This is particularly effective on heroes who can Counter-Attack.
    • This is the central mechanic of the "Obsession" boss. During the first phase, its eyes will observe your heroes, afflicting them with special "Seen" tokens. In the second phase, the boss will relentlessly attack any heroes with Seen tokens.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Every one of the characters is an Anti-Hero with a Dark and Troubled Past. It's possible for them to work through their differences and cooperate effectively, but it's just as likely for them to descend into bickering and infighting while monsters pick them off.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: This is how the developers describe the shift in tone since the first game: it's going to be miserably hard, but things can get better.
    "This game is more about trying to swim up, hoping you have enough air to break the surface, and the fear that you experience when you realise that it's just a little further out of reach each time. It's about trying to surface and trying to come to grips with your failures. But if you can manage to do it, there is a path to a better future."
  • Early Game Hell: If you thought the first game was tough on new players, Darkest Dungeon II is even more punishing for newcomers. While in the first game you could hope for two support characters to heal you through the first, short dungeons, now the game lets you fully dive into a journey to the Mountain and forces you into a specific composition where the only healer is the Plague Doctor with a limited use Battlefield Medicine skill. You also begin with little to no resources, with only an Academic's Cache to give you some supplies. Then there are the hero abilities, with some powerful options, including some staples from the first game, needing you to visit Hero Shrines to unlock; for example, Plague Grenade — a reliable Plague Doctor talent that allows her to rain blight on the rear enemy ranks — cannot be used at all until you've completed two Hero Shrines with her.
  • Elite Mook:
    • The Cultists from the first game have ascended to become dark, Cosmic beings who are all significantly stronger as units than the other factions.
    • At low torchlight, enemies can gain one of several advantages for the duration of the fight. One of them is in fact called "elite enemies", which boosts both their damage and health significantly.
  • Enfant Terrible: The Harvest Child is a monstrously mutated baby, and is implied to be connected in some way to the appearance of the Plague Eaters.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Heroes can have the "Amorous" relationship with each other regardless of gender. In one run, the Grave Robber may hook up with the Man-at-Arms; in another, the Highwayman might; and in a third, the Grave Robber might instead fall for the Hellion. It's not exclusive, either; it's quite possible for your entire coach to end up as a free-roaming polycule.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The final area of the game so far is a snowy mountain where the final boss of the run resides. Whether this is true for the other four "chapters" remains to be seen.
  • Evil Stole My Faith: A worldwide example; the apocalypse has driven so many people to madness that the last Holy Flame, a supernatural manifestation of hope, is a mere ember resting on top of your rickety carriage, and all (overly) religious classesnote  from the previous game are absent.
  • EX Special Attack:
    • The Occultist's basic skills gain additional effects if he has 2 Unchecked Power tokens to spend, typically stunning the enemy in addition to their regular effect. These compete with his Limit Breaks, which also cost 2 Unchecked Power tokens, but can't be used at all without them.
    • Knights and Arbalists in the Tangle gain access to Area of Effect versions of their regular attacks if granted an "Order" token by a Drummer.
  • Extra Turn: The Jester's "Encore" ability gives this to another hero, though at the cost of inflicting him with Daze and Weak.
  • Faceless Eye: The "Obsession" boss, the Focused Fault is a massive colony of these.
  • Fallen Hero: One of the previous playable heroes from the first game, the Antiquarian, has betrayed the Hamlet, joining a group of pillagers out of Greed, and is fought as a Mini-Boss. Justified, as even in the first game, the Antiquarian was always clear that they were in on the quest solely for profit.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: It is possible to build a good relationship between heroes through various acts in battle, like healing an ally or protecting them. Once a good relationship is completed, then the heroes will sometimes perform a free action assisting their comrade, like healing them, or protecting them when attacked.
  • Foil: The Academic, the narrator this time around, in contrast to the (possibly) regretful Villain Protagonist Ancestor, always comes off as a Knight in Sour Armor rather than dangling false hope; he never says that anything is more than a Hope Spot, and talks down your expectations constantly, but when your party inevitably dies, he gives you encouragement and a supply for a new journey. He is also explicitly alive, and rather than hiding lore behind boss fights, he reflects on his and the Player Character's friendship with him. On the occasions you find his own experiments with eldritch forces, he freely admits to it, but became aware it was a bad idea and stopped early, as opposed to the Ancestor going full Mad Scientist.
  • Foregone Victory: Many of the Shrine backstory battles are impossible to lose; though in these cases, "victory" often entails driving the hero to a Heroic BSoD.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • At the start of the "Denial" chapter, the narrator says "The shackles of denial must. Be. Destroyed." Indeed, at the end of the journey, the party fights four animated shackles that are tying the Brain of Darkness, and once they are destroyed, the Brain is freed and the chapter ends.
    • Just about all of the voicelines the Academic says about a character when you place them in your initial party line-up hints toward their backstory which will be revealed in Hero Shrines.
  • Game Gourmet: In contrast to the first game's generic Food provision, the sequel offers a wider range of food items which are only usable in The Inn to heal the party. The items range from disgusting Slime Mold to Stale Bread to delicious Flapjacks. A few Trinkets are also food items, such as the Stiff Drink for the Grave Robber.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • As in the first game, your heroes can get quirks that contradict their established personalities, like a Chatterbox Leper or a Pyrophobic Runaway.
    • Leprosy is one of the random diseases a hero can contract from enemies; like any other disease, it is curable at field hospitals for a modest fee. There is also the Leper hero returning from the first game, whose leprosy is incurable (and not listed on his character sheet). You can even combine these two facts and have your Leper contract leprosy, which fans jokingly call a "double Leper".
  • Game Master: A new character, the Academic, takes the Ancestor's spot. Fittingly for the new tone, he focuses more on grit, determination, and rejection of nihilism rather than endlessly browbeating you over man's failures.
  • Genre Shift: Darkest Dungeon 2 abandons the claustrophobic Dungeon Crawling of its predecessor for a linear and grueling experience. This game is about The Quest. Instead of assigning parties to individual dungeon runs, the player has to manage a single party of four individual heroes as they travel the post-apocalypse in a stagecoach, choosing which roads to take and who to save/kill. Instead of an endless supply of interchangeable heroes, there is now only one of each class, with detailed personality and more customization options.
  • Ghibli Hills: Played with. The Valley, your starting location, is a dreary, overgrown, perpetually autumnal forest menaced by undead Gaunts — yet in comparison to the Hell on Earth that is everywhere else, it is outright pleasant. The Academic outright says that leaving the Valley is leaving the one remaining safe-ish place on Earth.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • The Wounding Words trinket turns any hero into this, boosting their damage by 50% while cutting their max HP by a third.
    • Many of the hero specializations introduced in the Beasts & Burdens update boost the hero's damage at the cost of max HP, making them much stronger but also more fragile.
  • Hammerspace: The draw animations for items that aren't present on the character's idle model (e.g. Jester's lute, Grave Robber's knives and darts) involve the characters retrieving it from their backs or from their pockets, regardless of the object's size.
  • Healing Potion: The Healing Salves combat item allows the heroes to instantly heal 33% of the health bar without restriction, which makes it a powerful item in a game where there is a lack of dedicated healer and the few healing skills have many restrictions. There is also the Adrenaline Tonic, which heals for 50% of the health bar but only if the Hero is at less than half health, and it induces +1 Stress.
  • Heroic BSoD: Max Stress here results in the fittingly titled Meltdown, wherein the ailing hero loses much of their health, gains a large amount of negative affinity with other heroes as they verbally lash out, and suffers Sanity Slippage. It's possible to recover, but not easy.
  • Hope Bringer: Both as a theme and as a mechanic. You are given the literal last dregs of hope in the world as the Flame and it is possible for you to generate a bit of hope to the Desperate Few you encounter during your journey by giving relics or by cleaning up Lairs, which strengthens the Flame. The game also uses "hope" as experience, with increasing amount of hope restored unlocking heroes, trinkets, and better supplies between successive runs.
  • Hope Spot: In the Plague Doctor's fourth Shrine flashback, she possesses a "miraculous surgery" ability that, according to the tooltip, will fully heal her professor, who is currently falling apart from his incomplete reanimation. However, it requires the target to be immobilized, and the professor has 100% debuff resistance... After a few turns, she resigns herself to the realization the only thing she can do for him is a Mercy Kill.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Inverted by the Runaway, who says she feels comfortingly warm while on death's door.
  • Inescapable Net: Downplayed with the Fisherman's Net combat item. It immobilizes one enemy for 2 tokens' worth and inflicts a -5 speed debuff, representing how the foe is entangled in the net and has trouble escaping from it.
  • Ironic Name: The Librarian, boss of The Sprawl, focuses on burning books and the library he inhabits rather than preserving them or loaning them to visitors note .
  • Intangible Theft: The upgraded version of Highway Robbery allows the Highwayman to steal positive Status Effects.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • Burn is a new status effect that inflicts damage over time. The Runaway makes use of this heavily as part of her kit.
    • The Fanatics at the Sprawl are more than happy to use this against your party when they are not burning books. They'll even light themselves on fire to gain buffs!
  • Last Chance Hit Point: The Death's Door mechanic is coming back, not only for the heroes, but also for the enemies. Heroes and monsters may enter Death's Door when their HP hits zero, suffering from a damage debuff but staying alive and having the possibility to survive the next attack.
  • Light Equals Hope: The last of the hope in this world is materialized as a small ball of flame which you place on a torch at the back of your stagecoach.
  • Lighter and Softer: Played with. Per this interview, DD II tones up the bleakness a little bit within the gameplay (it's an even more brutal, punishing slog), but with the hope of a less nihilistic ending. In addition, the Academic is a straight Big Good who is actively helping you out, and one of the major ways you regain light is helping refugees, while lowering Loathing involves going out of your way to remove entrenched threats.
  • Limit Break:
    • The Occultist has several skills that can only be used when he has 2 Unchecked Power tokens. They are quite powerful, but gaining the tokens requires some setup.
    • An interesting case of the enemies getting these: Cultists generate "Worship" tokens every time they act, and can transfer these tokens to stronger Cultists. After two transfers, Mini-Boss Cultists can use the tokens to perform a powerful "Exultation" attack, with every Cultist having their own unique Exultation.
    • Attacking the Dreaming General's taproot makes it generate a token. Once it gains enough of these, it enables the Dreaming General to perform "The Waking Dead", an attack which hits two heroes for a lot of health and stress damage.
  • Literal Metaphor:
    • Heroes in an Inseparable relationship will sometimes block moves that move them away from each other. In other words, you can't separate them.
    • When you begin the "Denial" chapter, the Academic has a chance to say, "The shackles of denial must. Be. Destroyed." The Final Boss of the chapter is a set of literal shackles binding the Brain of Darkness, which is referred to by the Academic as "The Great Denier."
  • The Lost Woods: The Tangle, a large creepy forest where the undead Lost Battalion roam, is one of the possible levels in the game. In addition of the dense vegetation with numerous bushes blocking the view and large trees tangled in vines, the Tangle is visibly the site of an old battlefield as one can see abandoned cannons, tents, barricades, and small mounds indicating grave pits, as well as the occasional Outpost or even a Keep in which the level's boss resides. The party is most likely to fight formations of the Lost Battalion, undead soldiers animated by plants that still keep on fighting, with drummers, bishops, arbalests, and knights supporting the foot soldiers.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: The Cultists, of course, use powers bestowed to them by whatever new eldritch deity they now follow to impede your heroes. The Cultists in this game have fleshy mutations that resemble cephalopod limbs like vampire squid legs for the Evangelists or octopus tentacles for the Deacons, Cherubs, and Cardinals. Much like the original game, the Cultists use shadowy powers to inflict stress, debilitate your heroes, and even empower themselves. Of course, one of your returning heroes, the Occultist, also makes use of eldritch magic as well to fight and heal for you.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • The relationship mechanics are somewhat reactive to your own actions, but more often than not happen entirely due to random chance. Relationship gains and losses on the road are random, and it's random whether relationship-building events will trigger in battles. You can only reliably avoid relationship damage if you can keep stress low, but good luck with that.
    • Unless you are extremely well-prepared, you will be taking a metric ton of death's door checks against the "Denial" boss — and stun checks, for good measure. Its damage output is so extreme that you stand no chance of regaining ground with heals. You can boost your resistances with trinkets, but it's still ultimately up to random chance.
  • Magikarp Power: Certain heroes (such as the Hellion, Occultist, and Runaway) aren't super good out of the box the way others (e.g. Highwayman) are. Once you invest in their hero shrines, however, they become forces to be reckoned with.
  • Marathon Boss: The Dreaming General has about twice the health of the other two bosses, making his battle quite the slog. Fortunately, he is a large Stationary Boss who can be hit by any attack, which helps a bit. A popular strategy is to stack as much Damage Over Time as possible, as the length of the fight ensures you'll get use out of them.
  • Maximum HP Reduction:
    • Several quirks and diseases can cause this, just like in the first game. Special mention goes to the Brittle Bones and Malaria diseases, which inflicts cumulative HP reduction for every fight you endure. It can be reversed, but only by curing the disease.
    • Eating the rotten meat in the battle with the Harvest Child will inflict significant HP reduction on your heroes that lasts for the duration of the fight, though fortunately it is cured afterwards.
  • Meat Moss: The Foetor biome is overrun by a fleshy growth of tentacle-looking meaty trees, telling you that an eldritch plague has full sway over the area.
  • Molotov Cocktail: The Incendiary Cocktail combat item is a bottle filled with nondescript fuel and with a tissue on fire on top. When used, it inflicts large fire damage to a single foe, presumably because the bottle breaks and covers the foe in flammable liquid which is set on fire by the flame.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: The more elite Plague Eater monsters, like the Lord and Maid, will devour the corpses of fallen Plague Eaters for a heal and the ability to use a powerful attack.
  • Morale Mechanic: Managing the Stress of the heroes is once again an important part of the gameplay. The Stress bar is now scaled from 0 to 10 and works differently compared to the prior installment. First, the current stress level is measured in phases of Tense, Irritable, and Roiling, which changes the odds of positive or negative relationship changes occurring. If the Stress level reaches 10, the hero experiences a Breakdown, which resets the Stress to 2, reduces the hero's health to almost nothing (but never to zero, and can never cause a deathblow), and degrades all relationships by several pips. Stress is accrued at random, by enemy attacks, or by the verbal barbs of teammates. It can be healed by various methods as well.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Plague Eaters, the non-bandit monsters of the Foetor, are defined by horrible giant mouths full of an uncomfortable number of teeth. Some of them have more than one such mouth.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Heroes will occasionally remember their previous lives, specializing them for certain skills. For example, the Grave Robber can either have the "Deadeye" path, allowing her to deal more ranged damage at the expense of melee, or the "Nightsworn" path, allowing her to deal more damage from stealth and benefits her Lunge and Pirouette skills.
  • No Cure for Evil: Averted. Most factions have at least some means of healing — Fanatics and Plague Eaters can consume corpses for healing, Cultists can heal by worshipping stronger Cultists, and Bishops of the Tangle can actually resurrect their fallen comrades.
  • No-Sell: As in the first game, enemies can have resistances in excess of 100%, making them immune even with resistance-lowering effects.
    • While the pyromaniac Fanatics are only highly resistant to Burn, the boss of the Sprawl, the Librarian, is completely immune.
    • The Implication, being a mechanical object, is immune to all Damage Over Time effects.
    • With path specializations, heroes can get in on this too. Sergeant Men-at-Arms have a complete immunity to forced movement, Poet Lepers are immune to both movement and stuns, and Tempest Lepers are immune to disease.
  • Nothing but Skulls: Even by Darkest Dungeon standards, the Tangle has an excessive number of the things.
  • Not-So-Safe Harbor: The Shroud is a coastal shantytown built out of poles and rotting planks. When the apocalypse arrived, the local fisherfolk here debased themselves with a barbaric worship of the sea. The problem is, something answered. The local population is now the enslaved flock of the Leviathan, everybody being corrupted into more or less obvious Fish People with gray skin, large bulbous black eyes, and other deformities. Of course, they all attack the heroes on sight. Add to that the Mysterious Mist which covers the town at regular intervals during fights, and which may blind the party.
  • Obvious Rule Patch:
    • After the Altar of Hope update, Cultist ambushes no longer reward you with loot; as they shouldn't, since it's supposed to be a punishment for letting your torch run out, not a chance for rare loot.
    • Strategic Withdrawal, when upgraded, gives the Man-at-Arms a large heal if he's on death's door. It normally moves him back 1 rank, but if you're in a situation where you can ignore that (such as if he's the only hero remaining), you can use it every round, making him nigh-immortal. This exploit actually remained for quite a while, but the Altar of Hope update finally addressed it by giving the skill a cooldown.
  • Off with His Head!: Though we don't get to see an actual decapitation, the animation for the Bounty Hunter's Collect Bounty skill now clearly shows him attempting one by swinging the blade at neck height. This fits with the fact a bounty hunter would want to keep the head intact for verification.
  • One Curse Limit: Heroes are limited to suffering from one disease at a time. They can still gain a new disease, but it'll replace the old one.
  • Orphanage of Fear: St. Martha's Orphanage, mentioned briefly in the Vestal's Afflicted barks in the first game, makes its return in the backstory of the Runaway, and the story makes it quite clear that the nuns who ran the place were abusive and sadistic, making it little wonder that the Runaway, well, ran away.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Seething Sigh is a very weird one. Its appearance is clearly evocative of a dragon, despite being a giant respiratory system. Its lungs are made to look like wings, and its trachea is hunched and elongated like a serpent, complete with a Breath Weapon.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: In addition to the usual weird creatures you would expect from a Cosmic Horror Story, the Final Bosses kick it up a notch by being giant Animate Body Parts which are, themselves, warped by eldritch forces. This leads to some very weird monsters.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: One of the positive relationship that Heroes can develop is the Inseparable one, which suggests that these heroes really get along without it turning into romance.
  • Power Nullifier: This is the gimmick of the "Denial" boss. At the start of each round, one of the four shackles will disable one class of skill (melee, ranged, healing, or stress healing) for the rest of the round. Each one locks a different class of skill, so each one you kill will keep another class free. Of course, once you're down to one opponent, they'll always lock their class every round, making it inaccessible for the rest of the fight.
  • The Professor: The Academic is one by profession and nature.
  • Pun: The first chapter is titled "Denial", meaning denial of reality. The Final Boss uses a different definition of "denial": Its gimmick is a Power Nullifierdenying you from accessing your skills.
  • Purposefully Overpowered: The Bounty Hunter deliberately has higher stats and better skills than the standard heroes. This is counterbalanced by him only being available for one region, and taking some of your candles of hope as payment.
  • Puzzle Boss:
    • All of the bosses have some shade of this, with special mention going to The Dreaming General. His Video Game Set Piece lets him inflict a stackable curse on your heroes that severely harms and disables them if it gets too far. How do you survive this? Attack the tap root behind him. Though it's invulnerable, this will cause it to retract its vines from a single hero. Of course, you still can't get too complacent — do this too many times in a row, and the tap root will use "The Soil Stirs", which sets up two heroes for a powerful attack by the General.
    • Exemplars become much easier once you realize The Fall only generates Worship against targets with Combo tokens. If you can remove the Combo (or avoid triggering it through guards and taunts), the Exemplar won't be able to summon a new enemy, making the battle significantly simpler.
    • All of the Shrine backstory battles are this, revolving around figuring out which specific moves to use at which specific points. Particularly notable in the Jester's case, where you have to carefully arrange musical notes through his moves in order to advance the battle.
  • Religion of Evil: The Cultists from the first game make a return, but are now noticeably more threatening as a force and much more organized than in the prior installment. Gone are the Eagle-Clawed wannabes and dark priestesses, replaced with a fully-mutated army barely hiding their monstrous forms behind sleek metal helms and elaborate black robes. Their ranks are now filled with massive Deacons wielding giant metal axes, horrific Cardinals who will debilitate your heroes with their mastery of the void, svelte-levitating Evangelists Dual Wielding swords coupled with lightning and shadow, and monstrous flying Cherubs whose disgusting existence will drive your heroes further into madness.
  • Relationship Values: The game indicates how well a Hero gets along with other members of the party with meters made of rows of diamond pips. When two characters begin to form a positive relationship, these pips will glow yellow. A relationship is fully formed when 6 pips light up, and can be strengthened further by lighting up four large pips. If the relationship is strained, these pips shatter. Conversely, characters who dislike each other light the pips blue.
  • The Resenter: What heroes become when they develop a Resentful relationship. They begin to criticize another hero when the latter performs a successful action, and insist on them having it easy compared to themselves.
  • Rest-and-Resupply Stop: The Inn, which is situated at the end of each zone, is a crucial building, as it is the only type where your heroes can properly rest and upgrade. The heroes can be seen languishing in the guest room and you can give them various supplies to regain health, relieve stress, build relationships, or acquire buffs for the next stretch of road. There are also merchants at the Inn from which you can buy supplies, a Mastery Trainer that allows you to enhance skills at the cost of a mastery point, and a Wainwright who enhances the stagecoach with upgrades you've found.
  • Road Trip Plot: Instead of sending parties exploring various parts of the Estate, the general plot is about one party travelling towards the mountain on the horizon in a stagecoach. The player is able to maneuver the stagecoach, and choose between branching paths. The travel is punctuated with various encounters, battles, and buildings on the side to explore.
  • Rush Boss: The "Denial" boss is a Wolf Pack Boss that spams devastatingly powerful attacks, and is guaranteed to bring your heroes to death's door very quickly. However, because it's a Wolf Pack Boss, once you manage to defeat one of them, you can turn the tide if you press your momentum. The battle often ends quickly depending on who loses an ally first.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: If you look closely, the mountain in the teaser trailer has the faces of a number of Eldritch Abominations trapped in the ice.
  • See the Invisible: The Chalk Dust combat item allows the heroes to negate the stealth token on an enemy, presumably by invoking the idea of dispersing a cloud of dust to reveal invisible enemies.
  • Sequential Boss: The "Obsession" boss consists of two phases. In the first, individual eyes will observe your heroes, giving them stress and setting them up as targets for the second phase. When all the eyes have grown to their largest stage, the second phase begins: the eyes combine into the real boss, the Focused Fault.
  • Shout-Out: One of the area missions is "Bat Country," which gives you an encounter with Cultists that needs to be dealt with.
  • Stalked by the Bell: Run out of light, and your wagon is pulled into a shadowy dimension to fight Cultists with all the buffs from dim light snuffed out — or worse, the Shambler. You can win, and in so doing revive your torch halfway — generally enough to reach the next Inn — but it is never easy, and there are far safer ways to get Cultist or Shambler loot than inviting an ambush.
  • Stationary Boss:
    • In contrast to the Harvest Child and Librarian, the Dreaming General is a size 3 enemy literally rooted to the spot, and cannot move. Your only option is to hit him until he dies.
    • The Seething Sigh is unique as a truly stationary enemy: It will never move from its spot, even when the front rank is killed. This can be a nasty surprise for strategies based around powerful attacks that can only hit the front rank.
  • Status-Buff Dispel:
    • Vulnerability Hex and Tracking Shot will remove all Dodge tokens from an enemy, regardless of how many they have. Bellow will do the same for Riposte tokens (and Crit tokens, when upgraded).
    • The Highwayman's Highway Robbery ability removes any two positive tokens from an enemy. When upgraded, it lets him steal them too.
    • Enemies get this too: Bishops' Purge the Unworthy and Heralds' Clarion Call destroy all positive tokens, while Deacons' Sundering Steel only destroys Block.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Some of the backstory fights use turn-based combat to create a mini-stealth game whereby an enemy will attack random positions and the hero must maneuver or use skills to avoid being attacked, as they themselves have few to no ways to retaliate. Examples include a younger Grave Robber having to avoid the attacks of guards as she robs graves for the first time, or the Runaway trying to steal keys from a nun to escape her orphanage.
  • Stone Wall:
    • The Misstep trinket turns any hero into this, nearly doubling their max HP but cutting their damage in half.
    • Poet Lepers have reduced damage, but the healing effect of Solemnity is doubled, making them able to take a lot more punishment. They also No-Sell stuns and forced movement, making them effective front-line walls.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: In the Runaway's fourth Shrine chapter, the only way to "succeed" is to recklessly feed the fire until it becomes uncontrollable, despite this obviously being a bad idea. Justified in that it's a flashback to something she already did; you can't change the past, no matter how obvious it might be in hindsight.
  • Suicide Attack:
    • The Sacrificial enemy's only attack is to blow itself up, as described in Action Bomb above.
    • The Altar is an enemy that only uses support skills... unless it's the only enemy remaining, in which case it will use a special ability: "Azoic End", which kills it while heavily damaging your party.
  • Support Party Member:
    • Plague Doctor is the only hero with two healing abilities, and has both buff and debuff abilities to round out her support options. Her main source of attack is also Damage Over Time rather than direct heavy hits. However, she is flexible enough that with the right build she can become quite deadly all on her own, especially with the Surgeon path.
    • Jester's attacks are poor in terms of direct damage, but he possess an incredible number of support skills. Nearly all of his attacks apply Combo or other debuffs, he has the best single-target stress heal, he can grant allies Status Buffs and extra movement, and if all else fails, he can simply give his turn to someone else.
    • Occultist spends most of his time cursing enemies or pulling them into position for the heavy hitters, with a relatively weak main attack. He also has one of the few non-limited healing abilities. Like the Jester, he does have one very powerful attack, but it requires significant setup.
    • Enemies get these too. Most factions have an enemy with poor offense (or even no attacks at all) that's focused on buffing and supporting their allies. The most notable example is the Altar, a Cultist who begins the battle with an extremely good party-wide buff that changes depending on your current Confession, then proceeds to give its allies health regeneration or Status Buffs every turn. It's wise to kill it quickly.
  • Taking the Bullet: Some relationships will occasionally cause heroes to take a hit meant for their paired character. They do this regardless of the relative health of the two, which can result in a Senseless Sacrifice if a hero on Death's Door dies taking a blow for their lover... who is at full health.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: This is what happens when heroes with a bad relationship fight together. They will fight together, but at random, one hero may make a snide remark at their hated teammate, which also has a chance of inflicting a debuff.
  • Tentacled Terror: The Cultists from the first game have completely discarded their humanity, and now appear as betentacled Cthulhumanoids.
  • Timed Mission: Some of the encounters, notably those explicitly on the road, have a 5 rounds limit. If your team hasn't completely dispatched the enemy side by turn 6, then the battle automatically ends with no reward but the wounds and the stress you've accumulated, forcing the player to play very aggressively on these occasions.
  • Trick Bomb:
    • The Ichor Bomb combat item is a skull oozing green goo put inside of a tissue. When used, it inflicts large blight damage.
    • The Smoke Bomb combat item blinds enemy for 2 tokens' worth when it is used.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: At the Shrines of Reflection, the player can access the backstory of the heroes, divided into chapters and told by the narrator. Sometimes, the game adds flair to the flashback by using the combat system to narrate the fights the Hero had to do in their past. For instance, the Highwayman's backstory involves a prison break where we see him shackled and in a prisoner's garb, fighting four enemy soldiers and having a different moveset reflecting how he'd fight at the time.
  • Tunnel Network: The Sluice is a vast network of derelict abandoned waterways with barely functional roads covered in crude barricades. The Swinefolk have made it their territory, as the Sluice is connected to the Warrens. As such, the place is littered in piles of corpses and iron cages, and is teeming with Swinefolk.
  • Turn-Based Combat: The combat system is turn-based as in the previous game. Speed is still the main factor of turn initiative, but this time you are shown the turn order of the next four characters.
  • Turns Red:
    • The Final Boss of the "Denial" chapter is a Wolf Pack Boss. Each one you defeat provides a unique buff to the others for the rest of the fight: The Latch of Regret boosts damage, the Bolt of Lamentation boosts critical rate, the Shackle of Despair gives their attacks a chance to inflict blindness, and the Padlock of Wasting gives the others a large heal
    • All characters gain the "Weak" token on Death's Door, weakening their next attack... Except for Knight enemies in the Tangle, who get a bonus to damage when on Death's Door.
    • The Hellion becomes stronger as she loses health, similarly to the Flagellant from the first game. You can't push her too far, though: she does still gain Weak on Death's Door.
    • Destroying all the rotten meat that surrounds The Harvest Child will send it into a berserk fury, causing it to use the hideously painful "Maws of Life" move every turn until it dies or your party is wiped out.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • The boss of the Shroud, the Leviathan, appears to be a standard, though enormous, Fish Person when only its head is visible... but when it draws its hand above water, it is disturbingly human, with four distinct fingers and a thumb.
    • Most Cultists are your standard Cthulhumanoids, but the Exemplar is a disturbingly beautiful (though headless) human figure mounted atop a four-legged beast. Highlighted by the Academic, who calls it "a parody of human outline."
  • Unusual Halo: The Exemplar's upper body is headless, with a halo in the shape of the Iron Crown where its head should be.
  • Urban Ruins: The Sprawl is a ruined, burning city occupied by crazed Fanatics. As suggested by the many statues holding books, the Great Libraries in ruins, and the amount of burning piles of books, it was once an enlightened city until a mob of Fanatics overtook it and laid ruins to it. The party is most susceptible to fighting Fanatics, horribly scarred humans that have gone crazy and extremely violent, attacking with flails and fire.
  • Variable Mix: Each combat music has two variations. The main track plays during the combat itself, while the segments before and after (choosing between the heroes' opinions and reviewing the loot) omit the melody. The fade is seamless between the two versions.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Mountain; it's ominous enough from a distance, but when you're on its slopes, it loses all pretense of being a normal Earthly place, as a lightning storm starts over it and the ground becomes awash in shadowy mist as you approach the cult Ziggurat at its center, where the chapter boss awaits.
  • Video Game Set Piece: Many of the bosses use unique mechanics.
    • The Dreaming General is supported by an invulnerable "tap root" that will cause vines to crawl towards the heroes every round. First the vines reduce your speed, then they start strangling the heroes, inflicting both health and stress damage while forcing them to inflict more stress damage on their allies each turn.
    • The Harvest Child is supported by two stacks of putrid meat. Their only actions are to exude a "tempting aroma" that compels the heroes to move forward to get a taste. If they're in the front rank, they are compelled to eat the meat, which inflicts Maximum HP Reduction for the rest of the fight.
    • Similar to the Hag from the first game, the Leviathan can capture your heroes with its hand, damaging and incapacitating them every turn until you release them.
    • The four shackles of the "Denial" chapter will use a Power Nullifier at the start of each round that prevents you from using a certain class of skill (melee, ranged, healing, or stress healing).
    • Unlike every other enemy, the Seething Sigh does not move forward when the front ranks are defeated, forcing you to have good rank coverage with your skills.
  • Visual Initiative Queue: One addition to the HUD compared to the previous game is that the order of who acts after your hero's turn is displayed, which allows for some degree of planning.
  • Wanted Meter: Loathing, the amount of power the Cultists and their monstrous allies have, works like this — It starts off at 2 by default and every region after that will add more loathing if you don’t clear it. The more loathing there is, the more power and bonuses your enemies get, the faster your torch depletes (giving them more power and bonuses), and if you reach maximum loathing, you’ll have to deal with an Exemplar Fight. However you can force it down by destroying Resistance landmarks (places where monsters have built smaller bases than true Lairs) and Cultist encampments.
  • Was Once a Man: All of the enemies you fight, with the obvious exception of animals — though they are implied to be corrupted from regular animals. The inhabitants of each region used to be human, but were warped into monsters when they turned to eldritch forces in desperation. Assuming the Cultists are the same as the ones in Darkest Dungeon, even they were once human, as monstrous as they look now.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The Plague Doctor's backstory is one to Frankenstein: A medical student whose esoteric theories were widely mocked at university, she is nonetheless able to reanimate a dead body. She proves a bit wiser than Victor, fortunately: she delivers her creature a Mercy Kill instead of abandoning it to its own devices.
  • With This Herring: For a player's first run, the options in items and trinkets available to them — and therefore, what they'll get out of the starting Academic's Cache — are most likely pathetically bad. Succeeding in beating that first run with what you can possibly get in it would require either a miracle, or an absolutely perfect strategy.
  • Wolf Pack Boss: The Final Boss of the "Denial" chapter is a group of four animated shackles, each with different stats and abilities. Their central gimmick is that they will disable one type of skill each round, with the twist that each of the four disables a different type; once you kill one, they can no longer lock that skill type. This makes it important to think about the order in which you'll destroy them.
  • World Gone Mad: As revealed by the intro cutscene, the entire world has given into complete madness, with many large cities descending into complete chaos.
  • You All Look Familiar: Darkest Dungeon already had only a single model used for a single kind of enemy that can attack you, but 2 goes even farther than this by reusing a model of a mustached-and-bearded man wearing jack of plate armor and morion helmet as the guards of a prison the Highwayman was in, the soldiers that were under Man-at-Arms' command and his enemies, and enemies that the Hellion fought, the only difference being that they have clubs at the prison but are using swords everywhere else.

Ruin…has found you at last!
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