Red Hook Studio’s fantastic RPG Darkest Dungeon is a brutal, dark and somber experience. Originally released for PC in an extensive early access testing phase to rave reviews, and now available on Playstation devices as well, it’s a brutally tough dungeon crawling RPG that draws heavily on Lovecraftian cosmic horror. It can be a stressful experience, but also a rewarding one when you finally complete a tough mission or beat a particularly nasty boss. Suitably, the official soundtrack is also tonally dark, combining the traditional orchestral soundtrack with elements of drone, rock and ambient. Composed by British born Canadian artist Stuart Chatwood, the soundtrack is the perfect accompaniment to the many expeditions into the heart of madness you will face in the game, and a good stand alone piece for anyone who likes dark soundtracks and ambient music.
Some parts of the soundtrack even remind me of the first OST for Dark Souls, in particular the theme that plays when you’re on the town management screen, which sounds very much like a tribute to that game’s Firelink Shrine theme music in the best way possible. It’s a somber, lonely piece, and perhaps the most laid-back track in the game, but that doesn’t mean it discards any of the atmospheric themes that tie the entire soundtrack together.
While some of the tracks come in on the shorter side of running time, they’re all excellent and varied, and really help set the mood for the areas they play in. “The Ruins” theme evokes the sensation of exploring a dark network of corridors and rooms, while “The Weald” theme brings to mind the ominous dread of being alone in a deep forest. The combat music is also excellent and never gets in the way of the excellent encounter sound design while still setting a properly stressful mood. Darkest Dungeon is one of the best games I’ve ever played. It’s dark, punishing but also rewarding. It incorporates elements of cosmic horror better than almost any other title out there, and the writing is fantastic. It’s only fitting, then, that the soundtrack is a crucial element to the entire package, taking the tone set by the visuals and writing and ratcheting it up a notch. Give it a listen, and play the game if you’re so inclined and like what you hear. I think you’ll enjoy yourself.