CMON is returning once more to the Massive Darkness universe with Massive Darkness 2: Hellscape and the game is live on Kickstarter right now. For those unfamiliar with Massive Darkness, the game puts you in the shoes of a special class of warriors known as Lightbringers, and it’s up to you and your team to head into the labyrinths and caves and take out the evil looming within. A major aspect of the original and sequel is the concept of light and shadow tiles affecting what skills are available to your character. Massive Darkness 2 has quite a bit of fun with that central mechanic, though it also brings in a host of changes that allow players to really make their characters their own, ensuring your experience is unlike anyone else’s.
ComicBook.com had the chance to try out the game with the team at CMON, and during our time with the game, there were four heroes available. We could choose from the Berserker (Gheta), Paladin (Sir Ronen), Rogue (Feydra), and Wizard (Mathrin of Xon), and for my playthrough, I chose Gheta the Berserker, and she was an absolute blast to play.
One of Massive Darkness 2: Hellscape’s most laudable elements is how district each hero plays from the others, and by the way, this is not just due to their stats or weapons. Each character comes with their own unique gameplay mechanic, meaning that if go from the Berserker to the Wizard you will have to learn a different mechanic to get the most out of them.
For instance, take Gheta the Berserker. Gheta takes damage just like everyone else in the game, but when she takes that damage it doesn’t just knock her health down. When Gheta takes damage the damage she takes moves over to a Rage Dashboard, which has 3 different columns that you can freely move between. The Rage goes into the top part of the board, and once you have enough to activate one of the skills on your dashboard you’ll turn them in and activate it right there and then. Each of these columns focuses on a different skillset, split into movement, resistance, and offense.
What’s great is that this dashboard will gain more skills over time as you gain XP, and you can choose which column to stick those skills in, customizing your board to fit your individual playstyle. These skills will allow you to do a multitude of things, including move extra spaces, removing damage, adding more dice to your roll, and more, and can really make or break a turn.
Once you throw in weapons, armor, and other skills into the mix, you’ve got an easy to grasp system full of depth, and that’s just the Berserker. The Wizard’s magic uses an amulet to cast their spells, but the amulet features a rotating center with an arrow, and whichever spell the arrow is on is the one you can use. There are ways to move the arrow forward more than one space, but by default, it moves after each use, and you can add more spells to the amulet and customize it to your play style.
The Rogue and Paladin all have their own skills to add to the mix, and after a few turns, you get the hang of what your team can do and how best to use those various skills to help the team move forward throughout the dungeon. That’s where the game’s trademark mechanic comes in, as you’ll need to figure out how best to approach an enemy mob on the board given their proximity to a Shadow Tile. These tiles allow you to use the Shadow Die, which can allow you the opportunity to use your Shadow Skill. Each character has their own Shadow Skill, and these are extremely powerful when called upon.
That team dynamic was a blast in Tabletop Simulator but should be 10 times as entertaining once you get those slick miniatures and the physical components on your table. The original game had an intriguing premise and solid gameplay, but CMON seems to have truly raised the bar and gone above and beyond for Massive Darkness 2, injecting the game with fresh new mechanics that I cannot wait to dive into more.
Dungeon-crawlers are a perennially popular genre of board game, and there’s several high profile games of that genre launching in the next year or so. Luckily, CMON has found a unique way to separate Massive Darkness 2 from other high-profile competitors like Darkest Dungeon or Descent. The asymmetric play of the game’s six (or more, depending on stretch goals) classes ensures a different play style with each game, even if you aren’t choosing to play through the game’s campaign. This looks to be a big improvement over the original Massive Darkness (which I liked a lot) and continues a trend of providing more unique gameplay experiences to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth. – Christian Hoffer
You can find Massive Darkness 2: Hellscape on Kickstarter right here, and to talk all things tabletop you can hit me up on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!
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