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aka: Darkest Dungeon 2

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This page contains unmarked spoilers for the first game. Read at your own risk.

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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

Darkest Dungeon II is the sequel to the acclaimed 2016 Gothic Horror Dungeon Crawling RPG Darkest Dungeon, developed by Red Hook Studios. The game was in early access through the Epic Games Store since Oct 26, 2021, and had a full release on May 8, 2023 on Steam.

You awaken to your own darkest dungeon, a ruined manor with the nondescript confession of all your sins sitting before you. Every endless second, you can't bear to sign it. But one night, your old mentor (The Academic) bursts through the door to inform you that your worst calculations have come true. A malevolent eldritch power is affecting the entire earth, driving most of humanity mad, awakening the ravenous dead, corrupting the survivors with supernatural pestilences, and summoning hordes of alien monsters. The Academic gives you the last scraps of supernatural Hope, a mere spark which you fit on the Torch at the top of your stagecoach. It’s now up to you and your party of four heroes to cross the land in your stalwart stagecoach. Your mission: reach the new Darkest Dungeon, The Mountain, and slay the source of this evil madness.

Darkest Dungeon II's management gameplay is noticeably different from its prior installment. Instead of building a roster of of heroes to explore one cursed Estate, you must build and manage a single party across each road campaign, as the stress of grimdark adventuring risks their ability to cooperate. Every road has its own benefits and detriments, with curios replaced by events; you can go from helping (or harming) survivors along the roadside, to narrowly fighting for your life in a grueling gauntlet, to reflecting upon the past failures of your heroes, all while maintaining the health and stress of both your party and your stagecoach. The combat system from the previous game is mostly intact; Turn-Based Combat takes place on a single row, and the position of allies and enemies determines which skills each character can use. But the Affliction system has been replaced with the Affinity system; at maximum stress, instead of losing control of themselves, your hero will lose control of their guilt, unleashing a psychological Meltdown that lowers their relationship values with other heroes. Maintaining a high Affinity between two party members will give team bonuses to one of their skills each, granting a buff to one friend when the other uses that skill, while a low affinity will cause a skill to give a debuff to the hated rival instead.

The first DLC, The Binding Blade, released on December 11th 2023. It contains two new heroes, the Duelist and a returning Crusader (and a rather large Side Quest to unlock him), a new miniboss called the Warlord, and several smaller features.

In April 2024 as part of the Triple-i initiative showcase, Red Hook unveiled "Kingdoms", an alternate campaign to the main "Confessions" campaign which reconfigures the entire structure of the gameplay to more resemble a top-down strategy game and adds multiple new enemy factions, some of which are returning enemies from Darkest Dungeon. It is also planned to release simultaneously alongside a new DLC for "Confessions" which will add a new enemy faction and traversable region.


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  • 2.5D: Unlike the previous game, Darkest Dungeon II has fully rendered 3D models for its characters while still having 2D backgrounds during combat, with short wind-up and recovery animations after performing abilities, as well as unique reactions to getting hit and being on Death's Door. Driving the stagecoach is done almost entirely from 3D, but still has 2D background effects.
  • 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 II takes place just after an unknown cosmic event 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. Mutated farmers gorge themselves on their livestock and each other, and peasants in the coastal regions turn to supposed sea gods for aid. 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.
  • Ambition Is Evil: After The Scholar witnessed the failed ritual, they became obsessed with unlocking the cosmological secrets of the Iron Crown, dedicating their life to attempting to deign them — and roping the poor Academic into it, despite his protestations. The Academic outright says this was due to the Scholar being consumed by ambition, fueled by resentment stoked by the Academic himself.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Unlocking every character in the Altar of Hope in turn unlocks the Mountain, where you can purchase Palette Swaps and alternate weapon skins for your heroes, to add a slight level of customization to the game.
  • Animate Body Parts: The final bosses of each confession are various organs of the world. "Denial" is a brain, "Resentment" is a set of lungs, and "Obsession" is many eyes, etc. Naturally, this leads to Our Monsters Are Weird.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The boss of the first confession, Denial, is a set of animated shackles wrapped around a brain.
  • 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-Frustration Features:
    • Character specific trinkets only spawn for the specific characters you have selected. It prevents trinkets that are worthless to your party from replacing potentially useful ones during a run.
    • There will always be at least one hero in your party who will want to interact with an Encounter event. This prevents you from being locked out of a useful Encounter you desperately need (like an Assistance Encounter that provides torchlight) because the rest of your party is feeling uncooperative.
    • No matter how much Loathing you have or how low your torch level is, bosses cannot gain enemy advantages, as that would make them a lot more unnecessarily tough.
    • The very first inn in the Valley, the Torch and Crown, has an effect that lowers the chances of both positive and negative relationships from occurring, so you'll almost never have a situation where two characters develop negative relationships at the very start of a run.
    • Scouting will always reveal both the Lair and the location you need to go to for the region's Side Quest, meaning you're not totally in the dark and won't miss a crucial fork in the road from bad luck.
    • The game tells you that you're in the last region before the Mountain if you still don't have a Trophy equipped so that you don't accidentally forget to clear a Lair.
    • You no longer have to rearrange your party back into its original order after every fight; the game does so automatically.
    • If the only target remaining has an active Stealth token, you can attack it as normal without the need for specific skills. This is different from the previous game where you would have to waste turns until the effect expired.
    • Act 1 does not require the player to acquire a Trophy from a lair boss, thus making it easier for new players to practice and to farm Candles of Hope in the early game.
    • Like each of the Acts' final bosses, the Act 5 one, the Body of Work, will also gain a boost to health every time loathing maxes out. As it's a Damage-Sponge Boss to end all damage sponges, the Exultation attack will deal additional damage as well in order to prevent the fight from lasting even longer than it should.
    • The Side Quest to find the Crusader in The Binding Blade saves each step you succeed at incrementally and gives you whatever key item you've most recently unlocked at the start of a new Confession, so you don't have to worry about doing the whole thing from start to finish or losing progress because you died.
  • 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 Academic speaks of an unbalanced ephemeral equation and that the Earth now spins on a "strange and terrifying new axis". He is referring to The Scholar's unraveling of the laws of the universe via unlocking the secrets of the Iron Crown, which birthed the Body of Work and sent reality out to lunch. 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 face the Scholar's failures and save the world.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The size limit for your active party is again set at four heroes.
  • Arc Symbol: The Iron Crown 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 and the Iron Crown can be seen nestled in the broken wood overhang of the Inn.
  • Arc Words: "Face your failures," and variations of it are a common refrain throughout the story, fitting with the key theme of atonement and making up for mistakes. It's also a move that the Body of Work has, specifically the one that summons apparitions from your heroes' past. Defeating them, AKA "Facing" your "Failures", is the way to power up your heroes with Exultation, a Limit Break that allows them to tear through the Body's 999 health.
  • 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.
    • Attacks which previously bypassed Death's Door resistance now bypass Death Armor tokens as of the September 2023 update.
  • Artifact Title: Despite the title being "Darkest Dungeon II", there is no actual location called the Darkest Dungeon in this game like there was in the original Darkest Dungeon. Every Climax Boss is instead fought at the Mountain, which isn't a sprawling set of catacombs but a single cavern with the boss inside it. However, the ending cutscene explains that the Darkest Dungeon isn't so much a literal place as it is the manifestation of humanity's negative emotions and stress, which perfectly ties in with this game's villain, the Iron Crown.
  • 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.
  • Ascended Meme: In the original Darkest Dungeon, Kleptomaniac was a regular quirk that any hero could get, but it became popularly associated with the Crusader class, with many players expressing fond (or not-so-fond) exasperation towards Reynauld stealing their treasure. With the Crusader's return in Darkest Dungeon II, he has a new Indelible Trinket called "Pilfered Wealth", which carries the unique downside of giving him a chance to steal relics from the player's inventory.
  • At the Crossroads: Darkest Dungeon II 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:
  • Attack Failure Chance: Along with its massive overhaul of how combat works, Darkest Dungeon II replaces the Accuracy and Dodge stats from the first game with the universal Dodge tokens. Dodge tokens give a minus 50 percent chance for an attack to land, and Dodge+ tokens increase that chance to minus 75 percent. This way, the player is always able to know exactly what the odds are of their attacks landing without having to calculate a bunch of modifiers.
  • 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.
  • Backstory of the Day: The Hero Shrines serve this function, bestowing heroes with mastery points and new skills after telling an incremental part of a chosen hero's story, told over the course of five parts. All of them involve Backstory Horror to some capacity.
  • Badass Normal: Most of the heroes, even moreso than in the first game. Barring characters like the Vestal and the Occultist, 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.
  • 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.
    • The Cultist Altar also launches a suicide attack, Azoic End, if it's the last enemy standing. As with Death Before Dishonor, this attack stresses the party.
  • 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.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Looking closely at the signature on the Scholar's confession reveals it to read "Reus Captivus" — approximately "[the] Guilty Captive", reflecting the Scholar's guilty conscience.
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Unlike the previous game, it ends on a tad sweeter note. The world still has no end of eldritch horrors (including the Heart of Darkness, which is still set to one day destroy the world), and to slay the one the Scholar unleashed, the Scholar (probably) needed to sacrifice themself to make sure the Body of Work died. Even so, you proved that humanity, for all its horrid flaws, might yet be worth saving, and the Scholar's memories are undoing the damage caused by the Body, effectively erasing the corruption caused by the Cult.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The Spreading Stain causes weird cathedral-like growths to protrude out of surfaces that it's corrupted, which violate Euclidean geometry and can even grow upside down. Oblivion's Ingresses are half-submerged versions of these which Cultists congregate at, and Oblivion's Ramparts are fully-formed Creepy Cathedrals where they worship the Stain. Additionally, The Mountain gradually sprouts more and more of these over time until it too is a cathedral-like building at the end of Cowardice.
  • 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.
  • 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. Clearing it also gives a bonus of four Candles of Hope at the end of a run, which means it can still be worth fighting through even if you don't think you'll be able to make it to the Mountain.
  • 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.
  • Boring, but Practical: For all the Stagecoach items that offer nice bonuses or give you good items, Storage Trunks simply give you more inventory space. This is almost always useful in any scenario, since it means you won't have to discard as much stuff before the next inn. The Harvest's Bounty trophy dropped by the Harvest Child is also invaluable in this regard, as it basically removes this problem from the equation entirely by giving you 25 extra inventory slots.
  • Breath Weapon: The Seething Sigh, a massive, animate set of lungs, 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.
  • Central Theme:
    • Owning up to past failures and correcting them.
    • The world may go to hell, but there's always hope for it to improve.
  • Chain of Deals: The path to unlock the Crusader requires one of these. After picking up a key item from an encounter with the Warlord's soldiers, you must then use it to acquire multiple more through specific means in order to locate the Crusader.
  • 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.
  • Climactic Battle Resurrection: In a manner of speaking. The Final Boss will summon spectres of the heroes' Shrine enemies during the battle; defeating them grants the associated hero a powerful attack and heal for one turn.
  • Combination Attack: Heroes with a positive respectful relationship will sometimes help an attacking teammate with adding more damage by attacking in tandem.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard:
    • Done intentionally as Gameplay and Story Integration during some of the Hero Shrines.
    • 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.
  • Combat Medic: The Field Surgeon quirk can turn any character into an impromptu one of these, giving them a five percent chance to be able to apply the equivalent of a Healing Salve to an ally of your choice for free at the start of their turn. This can lead to weird situations like The Hellion saving your dedicated healer from Death's Door when it would normally be the other way around. Granted, a Field Surgeon character can't choose to heal themselves with their ability, so they'll still need someone to back them up when their health starts getting low.
  • Concussion Frags: The Thunderclap Grenade is a powerful combat item that 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.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Examining your inventory or hero stats with your stagecoach halted will sometimes prompt the Academic to say a few different Purple Prose variations of "Stop dithering and get a move on."
    The Academic: Analysis is invaluable, except when it becomes an excuse for inaction.
  • 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 eastern coast.
    • In the Jester's first backstory chapter, the pose and instrument of the old man resemble 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. Looking at the base of the cupboard it's stored in additionally reveals a pair of insectoid legs peeking out, closely resembling the forelimbs of a Crimson Court Chevalier.
    • A portrait depicting the Ancestor, and a landscape depicting the Manor being consumed by tentacles can be found in specific Academic's Study encounters.
    • The Thing In The Corner Academic's Study contains a man with wild hair dressed in tattered rags sulking in the corner who is heavily implied to be the Abomination, especially since he drops the Heart-shaped Padlock trinket, and several of the Abomination's exclusive trinkets from the first game were different kinds of padlocks. Strangely, none of the returning characters seem to recognize him.
    • The Trapmaker's kit stagecoach item's description reads "Curious is the trapmaker's art..." referencing one of the Ancestor's responses to a trap triggering, "Curious is the trapmaker's art, his efficacy unwitnessed by his own eyes."
    • 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 heretical lust (as well as her Crimson Court trinket, the Salacious Diary.)
    • Another inn is called "The Miller's Bounty", in reference to the Miller and the Farmstead from The Color Of Madness DLC. It's also possible to find Shards in Academic's Studies, which reset ability cooldowns when used on a character.
    • The Otherworldly Fragment combat item found in Academic's Studies is a tiny shard of the crystalline comet that The Sleeper was encased in. Indeed, The Sleeper's eye can even be seen inside the crystal.
    • Another inn is called "The Tempting Goblet", after an ability infamously employed by the Bone Courtiers; appropriately, its sign features a goblet with the stress symbol overhead. It even gives your whole party 2 stress upon entering the next region!
    • 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 Pillagers, having pulled a Face–Heel Turn during the interim out of the desire for greater riches.
    • The unlockable pets are mostly juvenile versions of the creatures that lurk within the estate of the first game, both from the base and the DLC's. Examples include a Hatchling Crocodilian, a Pygmy Pliskin, and even a Shrieker Chick.
    • A party composition consisting of an Occultist, Jester, Flagellant, and Leper will result in the "Crimson Court" party, alluding to the Crimson Court DLC of the first game.
    • A gigantic Bas-relief, a curio found in the Cove area of the first game, is a prominent sight in the background of the Sacred Pier fights.
    • The Ancestor makes a cameo as the unnamed host of the ritual that began the Scholar's self-destructive obsession with the Iron Crown.
    • The Runaway's first Hero Shrine is called "The Pigs of St. Martha's", after a quote that an Irrational Vestal would sometimes babble in the first game.
    • The Shambler's Altar can be found at the Academic's Study, and can be activated (at the cost of a substantial torch/Hope drop) to begin a Shambler encounter. The Academic may even drop a modified form of the original Altar's quote upon encountering it.
    • The Collector's Chandelier stagecoach item is the Collector's gibbet repurposed as a chandelier.
    • The Binding Blade adds an achievement called "On This Long Road, We Found Redemption", earned for beating Cowardice with the Highwayman and Crusader in your party. This references the classic Darkest Dungeon achievement "On The Old Road, We Found Redemption", which was earned by getting Reynauld and Dismas (your starting Crusader and Highwayman from the Noob Cave) all the way to the final Darkest Dungeon quest without them dying.
  • 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 it getting activated enough times.
    • Some positive relationships will cause the paired character to counter-attack if their friend is attacked.
  • Creepy Camel Spider: Webbers and Spitters received a redesign that makes then now look much more like solifugids, though without the front pedipalps. They remain the same amount of scary, though, with Webbers retaining the ability to stun party members and expose them to extra damage and Spitters doing massive blight damage to targets with Combo.
  • 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. The Mountain gradually turns into one of these as well with each completed Confession, until the entire thing has become one big steeple illuminated by the infinite expanding diaspora of the stars.
  • 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.
    • Like the previous game, the Leper doesn't start out as one, but can be built towards it. He has a similar damage variance to the Grave Robber, but his actual crit rate isn't great, and he has a chance to proc a Blind token with his regular attacks. A mastered Revenge skill, however, gives the Leper a chance to obtain a Crit token and guarantees maximum damage, assuming he's not hampered by a Blind token or is about to ruin an enemy with a combo token on them.
  • 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 have positive features, which in some cases can be worth their drawbacks. For example, the Tarantism disease has a small chance to grant the victim a useful Dodge token, with the only downside being a fairly small chance to move back or forward one rank — bad for some parties, but something that can be planned around. And if the victim is the only hero remaining, they can't move anyway, so there's no downside at all.
    • Several quirks do nothing but lower positive relationship chances or increase the likelihood of bickering between your heroes while driving, but allow them to make unique choices in Assistance and Academic's Study encounters that get you a bunch more rewards than you would normally.
    • Pyromania is a negative quirk which gives a hero a five percent chance to have to waste their whole turn throwing a Fire Bomb which deals 3 Burning. Of course, this is still probably worse than what they could have done with their whole turn, but it's better than skipping them altogether as if they were Stunned and may still allow them to contribute some worthwhile Damage Over Time.
  • 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.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff:
    • The Vulnerable token increases damage taken from the next attack by 50%.
    • The Combo token replaces the Marked status effect for much of the game, but interactions vary greatly depending on which attack. It can be either extra damage or an additional Status Effect.
  • Damage Over Time: In addition to the returning Bleed and Blight effects, there is now the Burning effect, which represents a target is set on fire, with skills to inflict and items to cure it.
  • 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 his basic attacks, causing him to constantly engage in 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.
  • Dare to Be Badass: The central premise of the game. The apocalypse has come, madness and corruption has overtaken the world, The Undead rise from their graves to slay the living and alien horrors stalk the Earth. And through it all you are called upon, bearing the literal flame of hope itself, to stand against and push back the encroaching darkness.
    "You were bold once...Be bold once more!"
  • 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. Some are strung up from arches in such a way that they form the Iron Crown.
  • 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.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Fisherfolk made one with the Leviathan, offering it worship in exchange in exchange for safety from unnaturally rising tides that would have otherwise drowned them. It gave them the chance to survive, at the cost of turning them into Deep One-like Fish People.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: When a hero dies, they drop the trinkets you equipped them with... and that's about it. Unlike the first game, you don't have to go through the trouble of training a new hero whenever their predecessor dies, as you instead have one of each hero that all retain their upgrades (except for mastered skills), making death a lot less punishing than it was prior. The game even rewards you with additional candles if you manage to complete a region despite one of your heroes dying, assuming you are able to carry their remains to the next inn. It's unknown if Gameplay and Story Segregation is in effect or if the heroes really are somehow Back from the Dead after each failed run.
  • 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.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Getting a Meltdown on a character will sometimes give them the Shattered Will negative quirk, which bestows a whopping minus 20 percent max health debuff and a plus twenty percent meltdown chance, along with giving them a Weak and Exposed token at the start of combat and removing a positive token at the start of their turn. Needless to say, a character with this quirk becomes a walking liability, and getting rid of it should become your top priority.
    • The Lost Battalion were originally sent to intercept the Cult as they descended from the Mountain. Unfortunately for them, they were unprepared for the horrors the Cult were bringing with them. The resultant existential shock sent the whole Battalion over the event horizon, leaving them in a state of catatonic horror as they wait for the end of the world.
      The Academic: When the cult came, no orders were shouted, no swords were drawn. There was only stupefying horror, and the catatonic lethargy that follows it.
  • 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 you end a run having gotten zero hopenote  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 have him snort and leave the area.
    • Having the Runaway or Duelist inspect the Memories of a Dream Academic's Study (which is a painting of the Manor from Darkest Dungeon) will have them proclaim that it doesn't seem all that remarkable unlike all the other characters who will notice how it's distantly familiar, referencing how both heroes are series newcomers introduced in this game and wouldn't have any experiences from the first game.
  • 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, without 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 will be miserably hard, but things can get better. The ending proper fits with this - after their long slog through a World Gone Mad and battles against countless monsters, the Scholar and their Heroes manage to restore the world to a state of relative sanity for the time being.
    "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: Darkest Dungeon II doesn't really pull punches either, like the first game, albeit in a different way. While in the first game, you could hope for two support characters to heal you through the first, short dungeons, here, it 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 few 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 during the fight. One of them is in fact called "elite enemies", which boosts both their damage and health significantly.
    • Each of the region-specific factions have an elite version of a standard enemy. Aside from their greater power and occasional special move, they're distinguished by having a unique name and visual redesign.
  • Enfant Terrible: The Harvest Child is a monstrously mutated baby, and is implied to be connected somehow to the appearance of the Plague Eaters.
  • Environmental Symbolism:
    • The environments of each region roughly correspond to the themes of the factions occupying them. For instance, The Tangle is an overgrown forest filled with the ruins of military camps and a constant heavy downpour, reflecting the Lost Battalion's themes of depression and decay; contrastingly, The Sprawl is a city full of libraries and scholarly institutions lit aflame by the Fanatics, who consider knowledge something to be mercilessly destroyed.
    • Reflecting the increasing power of the Iron Crown and the Scholar's failures with each completed Confession, the Mountain slowly changes in appearance over the story, going from an icy, twin-peaked mountain with a mass of ruins at the bottom during Denial to a full-fledged Creepy Cathedral reaching up toward the stars just before the Final Boss.
  • 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 is a snowy mountain where the final boss of the run resides.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Five Stages of Grief:
    • Each of the main factions' response to the impending apocalypse and their accompanying gimmicks roughly corresponds to one stage of grief; this was likely intentional on the developers' part, considering each faction is themed around a potential reaction to disaster:
    • The Plague Eaters correspond to denial; they're doing everything they can to avoid responding to their impending doom by drowning it out through mindless, pointless hedonism and gluttony.
    • The Fanatics correspond to anger, mindlessly lashing out at what they perceive to be the causes of the apocalypse and murdering anyone who dares to try and stop them.
    • The Fisherfolk correspond to bargaining, having struck a deal with a higher power to protect them from the apocalypse in exchange for becoming Fish People serving it.
    • The Lost Battalion correspond to depression; they collectively crossed the Despair Event Horizon when they saw the Cult descend from the Mountain, becoming little more than lost, resigned Empty Shells wandering around the Tangle as they wait for the world's end.
    • The Cultists correspond to acceptance, as an Apocalypse Cult actively embracing the Spreading Stain and seeking to accelerate the end of the world.
  • Flashback B-Plot: The Hero Shrines serve as these, greatly fleshing out the backstories of the characters in ways that were reduced to single-page comics in the original, with characters like the Vestal having more of the consequences of her heresy explained and characters without specific backstories like the Flagellant being given ones. The only characters exempt from this are the Runaway, whose story is being told for the first time as a series newcomer, and the Bounty Hunter, who is, well...a bounty hunter who collects bounties, and that's really all you need to know.note 
  • 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 a Friendly Ghost, 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.
    • In addition, there is the relationship between the Scholar and the Heir of the original game. Whereas the Heir is functionally a Blank Slate oblivious to the horrific atrocities of the Ancestor outside of cleaning up his Villainous Legacy, the Scholar's descent into the occult directly leads to them becoming the vessel for the Iron Crown and kickstarting the apocalypse.
  • Foregone Victory: Many of the Shrine backstory battles are impossible to lose due to the way they've already taken place. However, "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 locked around a massive brain; 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.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • The various factions actually construct different-looking roadblocks, allowing you to tell which one is coming up from a distance.
      • The Gaunt make theirs out of hastily-strewn-together bits of furniture, referencing how they're barely sentient shadows of who they once were.
      • The Pillagers make much more professional-looking barricades, since they're experienced cutpurses.
      • The Swine construct dirty-looking fences out of whatever scrap wood they can find, illustrating how they live in filth underground.
      • The Fanatics block the streets with burning rubble from the out-of-control conflagration engulfing the Sprawl, hastliy fashioned into horrific altarpieces or effigies of some kind.
      • The Lost Battalion have checkpoints adorned with battle standards which have fallen into heavy disrepair, reflecting the general theme and aesthetic of the Tangle.
      • The Plague Eaters obstruct the path with overturned wagons filled with dessicated meat and the fleshy growths that choke the Foetor, the growths themselves almost resembling grasping limbs.
      • The Fisherfolk impede your progress with gigantic swollen swordfish, their stomachs ripped open and their entrails spilling out onto the docks of the Shroud.
      • The Warlord's Military fashion huge, honest and proper bulwarks, reflecting their Shield-Bearing Mook abilities.
    • The Man-At-Arms' skills in the first Hero Shrine battle all do the opposite of what they claim to do, reflecting how he was ill-prepared to actually lead men into battle despite his rank.
    • 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. Since you can't contract double leprosy, the Leper is immune from contracting this specific disease.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • As in the first game, your heroes can get quirks that contradict their established personalities, like a Chatterbox Leper, a Pyrophobic Runaway or a Melophobic Jester who can still play his lute.
    • The Swine's Cache would seem to imply that it's their collection of stolen goodies from all the people they've robbed, but The Academic will still claim he left it there for you as if it were a normal Academic's Cache.
  • Gathering Steam:
    • The Vestal in this game has a Conviction mechanic that strengthens certain skills the more Conviction tokens she has. How she gets Conviction tokens depends on the path.
    • The Exemplar miniboss can gather Worship tokens by consuming its own allies, striking heroes with The Fall while they have a combo token, or being Worshipped by other Cultists. These tokens can then be used to launch Exultation, a powerful attack that hurts the heroes and summons a Cultist mook. The Deacon and Cardinal have a similar mechanic, though with unique Exultations and an inability to generate their own Worship tokens.
    • The Lost Battalion's Bishops can gain Benediction tokens through a self-damaging move. These Benediction tokens unlock more powerful moves such as Serve Once More or Smite in exchange for the tokens.
    • The Seething Sigh uses this as part of its core mechanic - it will use either Shallow Breath or Deep Breath ahead of its Sundering Exhalation, buffing its damage.
  • Genre Shift: Darkest Dungeon II 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 a 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 and more fragile.
  • Go Mad from the Apocalypse: All the enemy factions in the game are deliberately based on different reactions one could have to the world ending: The Fanatics represent anarchic destruction and iconoclastry, the Lost Battalion represent having a Despair Event Horizon, the Plague Eaters represent self-serving gluttony and hedonism, the Fisherfolk represent desperately seeking any form of self-preservation at any cost, and the cultists represent nihilistic religious fervor.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: The Tangle is filled with a constant, never-ending grey downpour through which the Lost Battalion march. This fits with their factional theme of depression and despair.
  • The Great Fire:
    • The Sprawl has been lit ablaze by the Fanatics due to their Book Burnings and desire to burn anything considered impious, resulting in a city-wide conflagration.
    • The Academic mentions that a fire destroyed the Great Library even before the world ended, costing him and the Scholar all of their research on the Iron Crown. He saw this as a good thing, however, since he was getting bad vibes from the subject from the very beginning.
  • 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 most 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. Subverted if they become Resolute.
  • Heroic Second Wind: The alternative to a hero receiving a Meltdown is them becoming Resolute, which causes them to regain all their HP and increase their Affinity with everyone else in the party. Needless to say, this can seriously turn the tide of a battle if your Leper or Man-At-Arms was on the ropes at Death's Door and may secure you a victory that previously seemed impossible.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: The game for a while seems like it has absolutely no relation to the first game(aside from some minor things like the Sigil Spam from the first game being revealed to be a malevolent symbol called the Iron Crown) and is telling a completely separate story, until Confession 3, Obsession. There it's revealed that The Academic and The Scholar were invited by a mysterious summons to a manor, where The Ancestor encouraged them to partake in a depraved ritual which involved killing five people and suspending them to a giant Iron Crown in order to unlock its secretsnote . The ritual seems to have gone wrong, as it didn't turn The Ancestor's body into a Physical God and throw the universe out of alignment (and The Ancestor's suicide and consumption by the Heart is a Foregone Conclusion), but it gave The Scholar the idea to try and replicate the ritual, causing them to be consumed by obsession.
  • Hillbilly Horrors: The Foetor is a massive expanse of tainted farmland home to the Plague Eaters, humble farmers and agricultural workers so horrifically mutated that they're not even recognizable as human.
  • 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 you can generate a bit of hope for the Desperate Few you encounter during your journey by giving relics or cleaning up Lairs, which strengthens the Flame. The game also uses "hope" as experience, with an increasing 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.
  • Horror Hunger: A common theme permeating the Foetor is that the Plague Eaters are a little too fond of gorging themselves on the flesh of their fallen comrades, able to gain nasty buffs and heal themselves by doing so. The Harvest Child probably has something to do with it, since it has this as a mechanic; the piles of meat in its room will periodically afflict your heroes with a status effect that will force them to move 1 rank forward, and if they are already in rank 1 then they will have to waste their entire turn eating the mutated, disease-addled meat. To make matters worse, it causes an affection penalty as your heroes get mad at each other because they're not sharing.
  • Humans Are Flawed: A running theme. Most of the playable heroes aren't perfect individuals, the individual confessions each focus on a human flaw, and everything happening in the game is mostly the result of a series of bad decisions by The Scholar in his research to understand the Iron Crown. The ending implies that the Darkest Dungeon isn't so much of a place as it is the potential for every human to follow a similar dark path.
  • Humans Are Special: However, the game also goes out of it's way to make clear that people can improve themselves and the world around them. In the ending, the heroes all come to terms with their pasts, failures and mistakes and forge a better future for themselves and the world, and The Academic even encourages The Scholar to forgive themselves. Even if the world may never truly be safe, humanity, for all of its flaws, is capable of holding back any evil both internal and external.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Inverted by the Runaway, who says she feels comfortingly warm while on Death's Door.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink:
    • Whiskey is the go-to beverage of choice for heroes at inns after braving through a region choked with unspeakable horrors, and is a good way to get heroes to bond and alleviate Stress. The basic Whiskey Flask just increases two heroes' Affinity with each other by 1. The Whiskey Bottle reduces Stress and increases Affinity by 3, though it also has a chance to reduce it by 2. The Whiskey Barrel reduces Stress party-wide and increases Affinity by up to 3, but also has a chance to lower it. Additionally, you can find The Wine in Academic's Studies, which reduces 3 Stress and increases 2 Affinity with no risk.
    • The Grave Robber, being a Lady Drunk, can sometimes find her signature inn item, which is a bottle of liquor called The Very Best. It gives one party member a 10% crit rate boost.
      "Oh darling, you can't get this anywhere."
  • I Regret Nothing: Upon inspecting the Shrine of Reflection, the selected hero is seen looking away from the light because of the shame and regret that happened in their past. The sole exception is the Leper, who was a good king that became sick with leprosy because he made contact with an infected person that he tried to comfort. In his case, he is instead facing the light, as though he never regretted doing the right thing, even if his life is cut short because of it.
  • 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 burn-focused enemies who'll even light themselves on fire to gain buffs.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Potentially. When selected at the Memories Of A Dream Academic's Study, characters will remark on how the paintingnote  looks remarkably familiar, almost like a memory. This seems to imply that the returning characters literally cannot remember the events of the first game. There are number of reasons that this could be, such as them suppressing the memories of the truth about the Heart of Darkness lest they Go Mad from the Revelation like the Heir, or the Stain may have involuntarily wiped them clean when they arrived at the Crossroads.
    The Highwayman: Like a dream that feels too real. The manor, the knight...
  • Last Chance Hit Point: The Death's Door mechanic returns, not only for the heroes but also for the enemies. However, it has a few marked differences from how it worked in the first game:
    • For heroes, the mechanic now incorporates how it worked in The Butcher's Circus DLC, with the survival chance for a hero decreasing by ten percent each time they get hit. This is to discourage you from making extremely risky gambles with heroes' lives, since they're not as easily replaceable as in the first game.
    • As of the September 2023 Update, enemies possess the "Death Armor" mechanic, which works slightly similar to the Aegis Scales from the first game's Shieldbreaker DLC. Certain enemies start a battle with a certain number of Death Armor tokens, and upon reaching Death's Door one token is removed. Each successive attack will not kill it but remove another token from it, and once they're all gone, any damaging attack is guaranteed to kill the enemy.
  • Legacy Boss Battle: The Collector and the Shambler returns from the first game, notably serving as the only boss enemies to return from the first game at all.
  • 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. 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. 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.
    • 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 Exultation, a powerful attack with a unique effect depending on the Mini-Boss. The heroes can perform their own version of Exultation one time during the Final Boss, after they defeat the unique enemy summoned through Face Your Failures.
    • 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:
    • When you begin the "Denial" chapter, the Academic can 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 Final Boss can use a special move called "Face Your Failures," which summons a spectre from the targeted hero's past representing their greatest failure.
  • 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 keep fighting, with drummers, bishops, arbalests, and knights supporting the foot soldiers.
  • Lovecraft Lite: As with Darkest Dungeon your ragtag band of heroes will go up against various hideous monsters and alien monstrosities, and will slay said horrors with steel, faith and even mystical powers of their own. Furthermore II takes it a step farther in that the theme of the sequel is very much about rising to overcome your doubts and failings to seek a brighter future. In particular, unlike the Heart of Darkness which at least claimsnote  to be undefeatable, this game's eldritch god the Body of Work unambiguously can be beaten.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower:
    • The Cultists 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. Like the original game, the Cultists use shadowy powers to inflict stress, debilitate your heroes, and even empower themselves.
    • The Occultist, returning from the first game, also uses eldritch magic to fight and heal for you.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Downplayed. Affinity changes are reactive to your actions but more often than not happen entirely due to random chance. Relationship gains and losses on the road are more likely to happen if a character is on the verge of having a Meltdown, and whether Affinities will tick up or down in battles is random(though the chance for it to happen is triggered by if two characters' moves synergize well or poorly or if characters have high Stress). You can only reliably avoid Affinity decreases if you can keep Stress low, but chances to do that come pretty sporadically. There will be some cases, therefore, where there is nothing you can do to stop two characters from hating each other's guts, whether it's a string of unhelpful encounter decisions or one of them having a couple of unpreventable Meltdowns.
  • Magikarp Power: Certain heroes (such as the Hellion, Occultist, and Runaway) aren't great out of the box the way others (e.g. Highwayman) are. Once you invest in their hero shrines, they become forces to be reckoned with.
  • Male Might, Female Finesse: The Crusader and the Duelist make up this dynamic in The Binding Blade DLC, with the Crusader being clad in plate armor and attacking with powerful and heavy longsword blows and the Duelist wearing dexterous leather padding and striking with quick and precise rapier attacks.
  • 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:
    • Like in the first game, several quirks and diseases can cause this. Special mention goes to the Brittle Bones and Malaria diseases, which inflict 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 afterward.
  • 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.
  • Mercy Mode: The Radiant Flame is an optional stagecoach item that gives various buffs and gets much stronger with each consecutive run loss (up to a max of four times), but also resets to its base level once you do win.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Traveling with characters at high Stress levels increases the likelihood that they'll take it out on their teammates, resulting in more negative banter which lowers Affinity. This can wind up becoming a Cycle of Hurting if characters keep giving each other Stress from banter, which causes them to lower Affinity with each other, which causes them to develop the Envious relationship which increases Stress if they use certain abilities, which increases Stress, which lowers Affinity, and so on.
  • 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 heroes' stress is once again an important part of the gameplay. The Stress bar is now scaled from 0 to 10 and works differently than the prior installment. First, the current stress level is measured in Tense, Irritable, and Roiling phases, changing the odds of positive or negative relationship changes. 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, although there is a small chance that the hero will become Resolute instead, healing a large amount of health and improving all relationships. 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.
  • Mystical Plague: The Foetor was changed from a land of farms and fields into a Meat Moss-infested wilderness by one of these, which is also partly responsible for the farmers' transformation into Plague Eaters.
  • Noob Cave: The Valley serves as this - it's always the first region travelled through, with a fixed series of encounters that let the player get used to the game's mechanics and test out team compositions. It's also notably the only region that cannot be re-visited in the same run (excluding the Mountain); once you're over that bridge at the end, the only way to return is by completing or losing the run.
  • 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 over 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.
    • 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 complete immunity to forced movement, Poet Lepers are immune to movement and stuns, and Tempest Lepers are immune to disease.
    • The Dreaming General is completely immune to forced movement, due to being impaled on a tap root that keeps him in place.
  • Nothing but Skulls: Even by Darkest Dungeon standards, the Tangle has an excessive number of them.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Alluded to. One restart quote from the Academic is "The greatest horror, it would seem, is nothing at all."
  • Notice This: As of the September 2023 update, the Bounty Hunter's poster now has a golden sheen around it to make it stand out.
  • "Not How I'm Dying" Declaration: If one of your heroes becomes Resolute instead of having a Meltdown, the Academic can sometimes have this to say, in direct opposition to a similar quote the Ancestor says in Darkest Dungeon:
    The Academic: Many fall in the face of Chaos, but not this one. Not today.
  • 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.
  • Not the Intended Use: Offensive Combat Items offer a wide variety of debuffs to your foes, but can also be used for the extremely Mundane Utility of purging Blind tokens from a character who has no way of removing them so that they can more accurately hit a target or getting rid of Dodge tokens on an enemy quicker. This way, even if the item misses you're still getting value out of it.
  • 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 Hydras Are Different: Like the Seething Sigh, the Gut of the Body of Work invokes the image of a hydra. It consists of several lengths of intestine ending in heads or faces, all stemming from a broader, bigger body behind it like the classical hydra. Furthermore, their main attack is to spit poisonous liquid at the heroes, like the mythological hydra's venom.
  • 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.
  • Palette Swap: You can spend candles to unlock cosmetic upgrades for your heroes, including palette swaps. Some palette swaps make a return from the first game.
  • Perpetual Storm: The Tangle is stuck in a never-ending rainstorm, with a constant heavy rain during battles and travel.
  • Pet Baby Wild Animal: You can get an owl and a rabbit as pets but the others can be described as pet baby monsters, being baby versions of the enemies from the previous game.
  • Pig Man: The Swinefolk from Darkest Dungeon - or at least, their descendants - pose the main threat in the Sluice.
  • Point of No Return: The Old Bridge in the Valley is a Polite version, although it's at the very beginning; everything beyond it is under the influence of the Spreading Stain, meaning you will never be truly safe except at an inn. Always immediately after the bridge is a mandatory Gaunt encounter, which is supposed to let you test your party composition on weak enemies but also symbolizes the danger you'll be braving from here on out.
  • Power Nullifier: This is the gimmick of the Shackles Of Denial. 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.
  • Poverty Food: At the beginning of the game, your heroes will be only be capable of eating Slime Mold at inns, which gives a paltry max HP boost, potentially gives your party diseases and might be so disgusting that they refuse to eat any more of it and gain the "Fussy Eater" quirk. Even after you unlock better, tastier food, Slime Mold is still always an option if you've got nothing else.
  • Power-Up Food: Eating food at Inns gives your characters a max HP buff and a variety of different bonuses for a single region. The most expensive and rare food can increase a character's health by a whopping 30 percent, potentially stopping a character from being a Glass Cannon.
  • The Professor: The Academic is one by profession and nature, having been a lecturer and mentor to the Scholar while at the university and during their subsequent occult research.
  • 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 Shrine backstory battles are this, revolving around figuring out which specific moves to use at which specific points at the risk of taking too much damage and failing. Particularly notable in the Jester's case; you must carefully arrange musical notes through his moves to advance the battle.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: The gameplay has been changed to reflect this, instead of the first game's small Army of Thieves and Whores. You must pick a team of four heroes at the Crossroads who will serve you for the entire journey to the Mountain, and they can come from a wide variety of backgrounds and will eventually grow closer to(or more spiteful of) each other.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: The Stain emanating from the mountain has turned the entire world into an infinite roiling void thanks to The Scholar unlocking the secrets of the Iron Crown, creating the Body of Work and throwing the whole universe out of alignment; what hasn't been completely erased has been corrupted, resulting in death and destruction as far as the eye can see. Every failed run returns you to a strange, liminal space called the Crossroads, and completing your Confession and facing your failures is the only way to undo it.
  • Religion of Evil: The Cultists from the first game return but now consist of their elite. They're 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. Relationships have a chance to be formed when entering a new region, with their chances of being positive or negative depending on the heroes' affinity with one another
  • 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.
    • Resentment shows that the Scholar became this to the Academic due to him forbidding them to publish their research on the Iron Crown before they had more proof of its nature, unwilling or unable to recognise that he was acting in their mutual interest.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: As with the first game, this is a big component of non-combat related gameplay. You only have certain number of spaces in your stagecoach's inventory, but the buffs provided by inn items can only be applied at inns and only persist for a single region, meaning if you want to hold on to items you'll have to discard other ones. Additionally, Relics and Baubles(the game's two types of currency) also take up space in your inventory like Gold and Heirlooms did in Darkest Dungeon, meaning you'll have to decide whether you need your supplies or to take a risk by discarding them. However, the Torch mechanic has been modified so that you don't have to continuously refill it with torches that also take up inventory space, instead refilling it by making choices in Resistance encounters and clearing out Lairs and Oblivion's Ingresses/Ramparts.
  • 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.
    • The "Ambition" boss focuses on rapidly placing Combo and Debuff tokens on your heroes then targeting the debuffed/marked hero with powerful attacks; it also becomes more aggressive and it attacks wider ranging as the fight goes on. However, it's also a Glass Cannon with the lowest individual health of the Confession bosses. Consequentially, focusing on tearing through the boss' health while using healing items to keep your heroes alive can quickly determine the battle's outcome.
  • 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.
  • Sequel Non-Entity: For one reason or another, the Houndmaster, Arbalest, Musketeer, Abomination and Shieldbreaker, and most notably, the Crusader, do not return in the base game. In addition, several characters have had their mechanics overhauled in ways that make them feel like new ones, such as the Bounty Hunter now being a temporary but powerful Guest-Star Party Member, the Flagellant's DoT changing from Bleed to Blight, and the Vestal's becoming a much tankier ranged attacker and support character than a White Mage.
  • Sequel Hook: Even after defeating the Body of Work and restoring the world to what it was before, there are still threats lurking out in the vast reaches of space. The Iron Crown has been revealed to be the Greater-Scope Villain of the series and the Heart of Darkness isn't going anywhere, so there's always an opportunity for the stars to align and for a new Eldritch Abomination to rise up for our heroes to defeat. As the Academic says in the ending cutscene, the Darkest Dungeon isn't a literal place, but the horrors mankind creates for itself.
  • 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.
  • Shipper on Deck: Amazingly enough, you in-character as the Scholar can be this to your heroes. Give them items like Songbooks of Amorous Ballads or Candles and Chocolate and watch them flirt with each other! Ironically enough, these items don't actually increase the chances of the heroes developing the Amorous relationship.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the area missions is "Bat Country," which gives you an encounter with Cultists that needs to be dealt with. The famous quote is also referenced by the Academic in one of his quotes upon the stagecoach entering the Sluice.
    • The Flagellant's Pain Box signature inn item has the description "Fear is the mind-killer", and the item itself is based off of a Bene Gesserit pain box.
    • In his initial Shrine Battle, the Highwayman dresses and fights similar to Cody from Street Fighter Alpha.
    • The book-burning Librarian's signature move is named "Burning Bright".
    • Defeating the Antiquarian yields an achievement called "This Belongs In A Museum".
  • Sigil Spam:
    • The Iron Crown is everywhere in this game, from the garb of the Cultists to the window of the Academic's Study to labels on spirits and foodstuffs to the freaking Soloist skin for the Jester's sickle. It makes sense, too, since the thing that kicked off the plot was the Academic and the Scholar discovering the Iron Crown nested in the symbology of ancient cultures spanning the world, which then got them pulled into uncovering a vast Ancient Conspiracy.
    • A particularly pronounced example can be seen during the approach to the Mountain's base, where the fields are quite literally lined with crude Iron Crowns on sticks.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The Ancestor only has a brief cameo appearance during one of the Academic's flashback sequences, but the dark ritual he hosted essentially kicked off the events of the game by inspiring the Scholar's obsession with harnessing the power of the Iron Crown, which would ultimately lead them to create the Body of Work.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: Conspicuously inverted. The backgrounds are made using 2D drawings, while all the playable characters and enemies have fully-rendered 3D models.
  • 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.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys: In-universe. Your heroes can obtain quirks that make them refuse to relax at inns and bond with their teammates, which is frustrating both in-game and out of it. Resolute makes a hero refuse to drink any whiskey, forcing you to use alternative methods to increase their affinity. Melophobic make them literally afraid of music and refuse to take part in sing-alongs or recite love ballads. The worst one, however, is Curmudgeon, since not only does it prevent them from doing any "fun" activities that give bonuses(sparring, playing darts, etc.) but it also greatly reduces their chance of receiving a positive relationship and increases the chance they'll get a negative one.
    Curmudgeon character: Ye gods, do none among you know the meaning of peace and quiet!?
  • Stopped Clock: The "Broken Clockwork" curio is stated to be in perfect working order, but remains stuck just before twelve in reflection of the world's current apocalyptic state.
  • 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.
  • Suicidal Pacifist: Heroes who gain the Pacifist negative quirk have a five percent chance to gain 1 Stress every time they attack, even though they're fighting horrific monsters hell-bent on killing them.
  • 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.
    • Similar to the Altars, the Drummers in the Tangle are also exclusively a support unit. If all their comrades die first, they will use a special ability called "Death Before Dishonor", which inflicts heavy stress to your whole 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 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) focused on buffing and supporting their allies. The most notable example is the Altar, a Cultist who begins the battle with a 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, which can be a godsend in the right circumstances.
  • 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.
  • Too Awesome to Use:
    • Many inn items are guilty of this, offering tremendous bonuses that persist for an entire region. Because they are so good, it can become tempting to stockpile as many as possible and use them all at the last inn before the Mountain, meaning you'll have less room to work with while getting there but will be able to apply 4 Whetstones to your Leper as a result. The Signature inn items are especially like this, since they will only rarely appear at inns and are Purposefully Overpowered.
    • The Unnatural Pigment combat item copies all of an enemy's positive tokens onto the hero using it and can only be found by making a specific choice in a specific Academic's Study, meaning you might hold onto it for a long time looking for the perfect opportunity to use it which never comes.
  • 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 still gains 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."
  • Uniqueness Rule: Your party is limited to one of each class.
  • 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.
  • Use Your Head: If a hero decides to open the Sealed Doorway Academic's Study, they have a chance of getting the Head Injury quirk, implying that this is what happened.
  • 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. Additionally like the first game, the intensity of the theme will increase the less light is left in the torch, but instead of a full melody change the percussion and bassline becomes louder and more sonorous and the pitch goes up slightly.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Voodoo Doll: Alluded to by the "Faceless Facismile" curio, which resembles a mannquin with several blades driven through it; finding it may prompt the Academic to comment that they used it to test a theory that harm could be caused to a subject by proxy, in the same way voodoo dolls are stereotypucally used for long-ranged Cold-Blooded Torture.
  • 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, the Confession boss grows stronger while your heroes suffer a negative effect. 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.
  • Waterfront Boss Battle: The fight against the Leviathan takes place on the very end of the Sacred Pier. A core mechanic of the boss involves it trying to pull your party members underwater with its huge icthyoid hand.
  • Wham Shot:
    • In The Binding Blade, managing to find and assemble the Crusader's sword and helm and attaching it to your coach as a Trophy doesn't have an immediate effect... until you enter the next region, where during the map scouting it's revealed that the region's Oblivion's Rampart has been replaced with a new location, The Caged Knight.
    • In the fourth flashback, two show up: one where it's revealed the Scholar murdered at least four people to use their bodies in a ritual involving the Iron Crown, and one immediately after where they stab the Academic through the chest from behind to provide the final sacrifice.
  • 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 get in, it would require either a miracle or a perfect strategy.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Notably averted: unlike the first game, eating is completely optional, but you still don't want heroes to skip their meals at their inn, as they get temporaly increased max HP and resistances depeding on the food. Not feeding them will leave them frail and more vulnerable.
  • 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 II goes even further than this by reusing a model of a mustached-and-bearded man wearing jack of plate armor and morion helmet as the guards of 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.

Alternative Title(s): Darkest Dungeon 2

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