The problem with heroes is that they’re generally human. This means that all the terrible things they go through in the Quest to Save the Thing leave a mark, and while generally this is swept under the rug to keep the story moving along, Darkest Dungeon revels in it. The violence of each encounter adds up, leading to a party where each character is impacted in their own way. Stress, terror, unearned bravado and more all percolate in the party members’ brains, and managing their survival in the turn-based dungeon crawl involves not only a smart approach to combat, but also being aware of each character’s quirks. There’s a lot that can go wrong outside the mentally-healing safety of town, and if a character dies they’re gone for good. Darkest Dungeon is a notoriously difficult roguelike dungeon crawler and its Signature Edition Games big-box release is as black as the game’s brutal heart.
A good box design lets you know what game it is even from across the room and Darkest Dungeon: Collector’s Edition is an easy one to spot. The black-on-dark-grey design is only broken by the blue PS4 trade dress and orange PEGI rating, so even though it’s hard to read the logo, the color scheme leaves no question about which game is inside. It’s also worth noting that the bright afternoon sun in the pictures below makes the color contrast much more obvious than when seeing it in standard indoor lighting. The design on the outside is a cardstock sleeve that covers the standard Signature Edition box inside, which is a sturdy chunk of cardboard holding the innards in place.
As a bonus, this version came with the collector’s coin. These are decently hefty chunks of laser-carved metal and I’ll admit to coveting them just a little.
Taking off the sleeve and popping open the top, the first thing you’re greeted with is a signature card. While part of the point of Signature Edition Games is the boxes having a digital signature on them, it wasn’t a practical design for Darkest Dungeon so instead there’s a red and black full-sized card holding the game logo and thirteen digital signatures. Beneath that is an individually numbered certificate indicating this is your copy and yours alone, with nobody else having one exactly like it.
Once past the cards the box starts revealing its heart, although there’s still plenty to excavate underneath. The game is inside the standard PS4 case, held securely in place by the surrounding foam, and above it is a strip of cardstock holding the pins in place. Technically the pins go best on a jacket or packpack, but a handy tree makes a nice home for them as well.
Inside the game case is the standard paperwork saying this game is for PAL territories, despite it actually being region-free and just as playable on a US or Asian PS4 as it would be on a European model. The front of the cover is the standard logo and trade dress, while the back doesn’t quite act as a reversible cover but is still a nicely dramatic shot of the cast of heroes. The disc comes with all the DLC, which includes two character classes and two scenarios that would usually be sold extra.
Digging deeper into the box, under the game comes a softcover art/comic book. Each two-page spread is a full-page image on the left and a little wordless vignette on the right for seventeen different character classes.
Finally, deep in the bottom of the foam padding comes the soundtrack CD, comprised of 23 tracks from the main game plus the two DLC episodes. They come housed in the standard cardboard and plastic holder, which should be more than sturdy enough stored down in the box’s core.
Putting everything away only takes a few seconds, with everything fitting in exactly where it’s supposed to go. While the packaging is fairly well standardized by now the production design is still impressive no matter how many of these I’ve gotten to unbox. The Signature Edition series feels deluxe without going crazy about it, giving fans some nice bonuses while keeping the cost in check. Darkest Dungeon: Collector’s Edition is another solid entry that slots neatly into place beside any others you might have gotten from the publisher since it switched to this format last fall, creating a library that’s making the shelves just a little more satisfying with each new game.