Adding vampires to any setting opens up new doors. From secret societies to new abilities and afflictions, it grants the developer a chance to really experiment with a few new ideas, and add a new layer to their game. Darkest Dungeon's already grim and gloomy world adds to this with this latest DLC - the Crimson Court - with the chance for your heroes to become a desperate bloodsucker themselves.
Treating vampirism as a virus you cannot heal, your characters can become afflicted with an unending bloodlust which boosts their attacks but leaves them vulnerable to the elements. After a time both are taken to extremes, and you will be forced to hunt for blood to keep them alive. In theory this is fun and fine, but the execution sadly leaves a lot to be desired. The sheer rarity of blood means that your character will often turn upon your companions, and the fact you cannot cure it is more of another hindrance over a new mechanical element. It leads to more than a few utterly unavoidable deaths as your veterans will keep wasting away, and the fact the blood-giving district is currently bugged means becoming afflicted is effectively a death sentence. This, combined with the fact you cannot even enter the titular court without bumping into a random drop which can take dozens of hours to find, adds merely another level of grinding onto the game; something it desperately needed to lessen.
With this said though, a few good elements can still be found here. The new class, the Flagellant, is a fun twist on the stress mechanics and the actual enemies of the Court are both fascinatingly well designed and fun to combat. Furthermore, the addition of the districts to the late game portion opens up far more opportunities than with the vanilla build, granting you more ways to approach the finale. All of these would be fine, but the troubling execution of the big selling point unfortunately overshadows them.
The bottom line really is that this is a weak addition to an otherwise spectacular game. If you have yet to pick up Darkest Dungeon then definitely look into it, but the Crimson Court is simply too problematic and too random to build upon existing elements without ruining the whole experience. Ultimately, this is a series of great and very ambitious ideas which sadly just didn't add anything more than sheer frustration to the game.
DARKEST DUNGEON: THE CRIMSON COURT / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: RED HOOK STUDIOS / PLATFORMS: PC, OS X, PLAYSTATION 4, PLAYSTATION VITA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW