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New Steam dungeon crawler is Darkest Dungeon but as a co-op action RPG

Witherbloom takes the structure of Darkest Dungeon and combines it with action RPG and survival game elements in a co-op dungeon crawler.

Witherbloom is a new co-op survival action RPG coming to Steam - A figure in an orange hood and white mask flanked by two other warriors.

Combining third-person action RPG combat with survival elements and a structure reminiscent of Darkest Dungeon, Witherbloom is a new co-op RPG game. Set in a bizarre dystopian landscape, either alone or with your friends, you head out on dungeon-crawling adventures into various facilities left by the selfish gods that abandoned your world. Combining the core of publisher Nine Dots’ beloved Outward with the more contained loop of a dungeon crawler, PCGamesN speaks to Mitchell Lagran of developer Ever Curious and Guillame Boucher-Vidal of publisher Nine Dots about their new Steam game.

Witherbloom takes place in the wake of a utopia where the godlike Orchestrators made sure everyone had everything they always needed. Suddenly, however, they vanished, creating a total collapse within society. Amid the post-apocalypse that follows, you’ll build out a community, stretching warily out into the facilities that each of the Orchestrators lived in to discover resources and upgrade your camp in this survival RPG game.

Lagran and Boucher-Vidal are both very enthusiastic about deep systems that demand engagement from the player. A skill tree that lets you unlock everything is ultimately boring, Boucher-Vidal remarks, because every player ends up the same at the end. This plays into the design of Witherbloom, Lagran explains, where there’s “a lot of triage involved” and you’ll have to make tough decisions about which skills to take and which resources to prioritize.

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The core of those skills comes from Witherbloom’s dual-class system. You’ll choose both a survival class and a combat class to combine together, creating up to 16 potential multiclass combos. Both types have their own separate skill tree, allowing you to level up your fighting abilities and your survival skills together.

Lagran tells me he loves making weird character builds in hard RPGs and the unusual combinations you can dig into – for example, you and your team may decide they want to focus all-in on speedy builds capable of rushing through dungeons at a fast pace rather than spending as much time with the survival elements.

You (and your friends, if you’re playing in co-op) will branch out from your central community, heading out to each of the broken-down abandoned husks of the old Orchestrator facilities. Each of these is themed after what that god provided to humanity, and you can build your character to be better-suited to tackling certain aspects if you like.

Witherbloom - An ancient structure built in a rolling desert. A floating city can be seen high in the clouds above.

The deeper you dig into each facility, the more challenging it will get, although you’ll be able to bring unlocks from certain areas into other ones to unlock progression in a somewhat Metroidvania-like fashion. The comparison Boucher-Vidal makes is to Darkest Dungeon, with players forging relationships with NPCs such as Blacksmiths that will help build out your community and create facilities to craft better gear and other useful resources.

Lagran says the Ever Curious team is always thinking about the value it’s bringing to players, and stresses the importance of not trapping them in a repeating loop or grind that isn’t bringing them something worthwhile. He adds that he hopes uncovering the mythology of how society collapsed and what might have caused the Orchestrators to vanish will give people plenty to think about long after they’ve put their keyboard and mouse or controller down.

As mentioned, you can also play Witherbloom as a solo experience, which Lagran says will require some creative problem-solving and skill. He emphasizes that Ever Curious wants to encourage the challenge of coordination between players in co-op, while ensuring that playing solo is still a satisfying experience. It’s sounding promising, though, and as a big fan of the likes of Remnant 2 and Helldivers 2 I’m certainly in the mood for even more coordinated co-op action.

Witherbloom - Three enemies close in on a masked figure holding a sword in a surreal fantasy dungeon.

Witherbloom currently has no release date, but you can wishlist it now on Steam, and we’ll keep you up to date on its progress. It’s also set to appear with a playable demo at PAX East on Thursday March 21, if you’re in the neighborhood and interested to try it for yourself.

In the meantime, there’s plenty more of the best survival games that are well worth your time, along with all manner of the best co-op games to keep you and your friends gaming together.

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