The Narrator in Darkest Dungeon is the foundation of the game’s atmosphere. This difficult, stress-inducing dungeon crawler gains so much from his foreboding voice, littering the game with hints of story and general unease. For any player, these quotes become etched in the mind, tied to a challenging slog through one of the hardest games in recent memory.
Whether the player is venturing into the diseased Warrens or fighting off the fishfolk of the Cove, Darkest Dungeon never stops being a hard, macabre, and engaging RPG. With every step of the way darkly dotted by his mysterious voice, the Narrator becomes a vital part of the player’s harrowing journey. Along the way, he dispenses some truly iconic lines.
Updated on May 25, 2023, by Lucas Ellinas: One of the most memorable aspects of the original Darkest Dungeon was the Narrator, who guided you throughout your journey. With the official launch of Darkest Dungeon 2, the voice of the Narrator, Wayne June returns as a new character. It’s the perfect time to look back at some of his most memorable quotes from the first game.
19 “The Sin Is Not In Being Outmatched, But In Failing To Recognize It.”
Shakespeare once wrote that “the better part of valor is discretion.” And there will be times in a Darkest Dungeon playthrough when you need to adopt that mentality. Retreating from a battle comes with serious consequences, dramatically increasing the Stress levels of your Heroes.
But sometimes, that’s preferable to losing the party entirely. In those moments of defeat, the Narrator provides some affirmation, assuring you that you made the right decision. Whether or not he’s correct is something you will have to decide for yourself.
18 “These Nightmarish Creatures Can Be Felled! They Can Be Beaten!”
After winning a battle, the Narrator will sometimes make this exclamation. It’s positive in sentiment, but the tone of the Narrator’s voice suggests that he is almost surprised by your victory.
In different circumstances, that might be insulting, but it may in fact be a sentiment shared by the player, given how brutally difficult Darkest Dungeon can be. Surviving even the simplest of fights can often feel impossible, and coming out on top feels like a sign that the tide is turning in your favor.
17 “Suffer Not The Lame Horse… Nor The Broken Man.”
When exploring the Narrator’s twisted Estate, even the greatest heroes can be overcome by sickness, both mental and physical. And while many ailments can be overcome, sometimes, one of your heroes is simply too far gone to be worth saving.
In such cases, a difficult choice must be made. And if you choose to cast them aside, the Narrator may present you with this quote. It represents the recognition of a simple fact: in the quest to rid the Estate of the evil that infests its every corner, no one is indispensable.
16 “The Old Road Will Take You To Hell, But, In That Gaping Abyss, We Will Find Our Redemption.”
This quote is the last line of the Road Home cinematic that plays when you start a new file. As you would expect from a quote that heralds a fresh venture into the hellish Estate, it contains promises of horror and death.
However, it’s notable in that it is perhaps the strongest statement of resolve from the Narrator, who more often opts for the morbid and morose. Its presence so early in the game speaks to the fact that, despite the clear dangers the Estate presents, you do have a purpose here; an important mission that must be accomplished.
15 “The Match Is Struck. A Blazing Star Is Born!”
When you raise the Light Meter to 100, the Narrator reacts with almost religious zeal. And it feels warranted. Traversing the Estate in the dark has some rewards, but causes increased Stress buildup and makes your enemies more dangerous.
As a result, the Light Meter’s steady dimming feels like your chances of victory slipping away, and boosting it to the maximum comes with a burst of courage. Even fully lit, the Estate is still dangerous, but in Darkest Dungeon, those small advantages can make all the difference.
14 “Ruin Has Come To Our Family.”
The doom-laden first words in the game come gargled over the opening cinematic. You hear these words repeated again and again every time they boot up the game, so it makes the game’s motives clear.
It is your introduction to a place of death and disease, a place of ruin that they’re now in charge of, and they better be ready. (This game is considered by some to be harder than Dark Souls at its most devious). As the Narrator says near the end of the introduction, “It is a festering abomination!” This line makes a massive first impression, but it’s heard so often that it may not have quite the impact of some.
13 “Welcome Home, Such As It Is. This Squalid Hamlet, These Corrupted Lands, They Are Yours Now, And You Are Bound To Them.”
The Hamlet in Darkest Dungeon acts as a hub. The player can hire new characters here, equip a team for a coming excursion, or send people to various facilities to cool off after a particularly stressful experience.
For such a bleak place, it starts to feel like the only pleasant and safe space in the whole game. While these “corrupted lands” are the best it will get, it is still nice to see a place that the player can call home in this indie horror masterpiece. Either way, they are “bound to them,” so it doesn’t sound like there’s a choice. Not the most highly-rated line, and rarely heard, but a great one nonetheless.
12 “Slowly, Gently, This Is How A Life Is Taken…”
This is one of the creepiest lines in the game, and a big fan favorite. When you inflict Blight or Bleed on an enemy that slowly eats away at their health (via tricky techniques like the Caltrops attack from the versatile and deadly Bounty Hunter), the Narrator seems to relish it.
He sounds almost playful and curious, as though he finds the sight entertaining. Not only does this line add depth to excursions into these dark dungeons, but it also leads to early questions about the Narrator. Why does he sound so interested in such a horrid action? A powerful quote, albeit one that may be heard a little too often.
11 “Great Adversity Has A Beauty — It Is The Fire That Tempers The Blade.”
While the Narrator’s lines are seemingly endless statements rife with morbid and dark sentiments, there are surprisingly a rare few that are actually positive. What’s even more surprising is that most of the more hopeful lines are spoken when you fail an expedition, such as the above quote.
Apparently, even the negative character of the Narrator is willing to give a little encouragement to players when they need it most, and that’s likely why this quote resonates with fans.
10 “There Is A Sickness In The Ancient Pitted Cobbles Of The Old Road, And On Its Writhing Path You Will Face Viciousness, Violence, And Perhaps Other Damnably Transcendent Terrors.”
As the tutorial begins, the game emphasizes that it is not for the faint of heart, laying out a sort of mission statement. Just like heading towards the catacombs at the beginning of Dark Souls, it is clear from these first baby steps that this will be a challenging ride.
While previous lines have had a similar effect, the way this one sets up the game is perfect. If there was ever a summation of what Darkest Dungeon is throwing at the player, “viciousness, violence, and perhaps other damnably transcendent terrors” is spot on, really. Not the Narrator’s most iconic words, though.
9 “Injury And Despondence Set The Stage For Heroism… Or Cowardice.”
The Narrator says this line when a hero loses 50 percent of their health or fills their stress gauge by 50 percent. Spoken with the same ominous tone as always, this line is more than meets the eye as it actually explains one of the mechanics of the game.
When a hero’s stress level fills, they can either become virtuous and gain a virtue, or they will become mad and gain an affliction. Afflictions can cause the hero to retreat back from a position or negatively affect their companions, whereas virtues will see them helping out their fellow heroes.
8 “And Now The True Test… Hold Fast, Or Expire?”
One of the most brutally difficult situations in Darkest Dungeon (among many that make its fans enjoy it so much) is when a Hero is at Death’s Door. Here, a Hero has no HP remaining, and any damage has a chance to be avoided entirely or kill them.
It is a tricky little mechanic, giving a vague chance at pushing forward, but at the risk of losing a loyal Hero. This decision is made all the more hard work when the Narrator gives the player only two options: stay strong or die. There is no encouragement to retreat, only two miserable choices. The line causes mixed feelings among fans, depending on how their Heroes tend to fare under the Death’s Door status.
7 “This Sprawling Estate, A Mecca Of Madness And Morbidity. Your Work Begins…”
When you head out on their first dungeon crawl, the Narrator quietly describes your new home as “a Mecca of madness and morbidity.” Like a lot of the writing in Darkest Dungeon, it is a beautiful line, full of the creeping terror that pervades throughout the whole game.
It doesn’t end with any hope: this isn’t the beginning of a journey, this is the start of some grueling, horrific “work.” You are here to clean up this mess, not to enjoy yourself. Powerful words indeed, but this line is also only heard at the beginning of the game.
6 “A Star-Spawned Horror!”
It’s evident to any player that Darkest Dungeon has been heavily influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. One of the many Eldritch terrors that you can encounter in the game is the Shambler, a special boss that can appear whenever your torchlight fades or if you use a torch on a Shambler’s altar.
One of the phrases that the Narrator will say upon encountering the Shambler is “A star-spawned horror!” The nice little detail to this is that “the Star Spawn” is one of the terms given to the Cthulhi, the spawn of Cthulhu, in Lovecraft’s work.
5 “Monstrous Size Has No Intrinsic Merit, Unless Inordinate Exsanguination Be Considered A Virtue.”
Darkest Dungeon is full of quirks — strange gameplay design and strange language to make the whole game feel slightly harder to grasp. Possibly the line most emblematic of this style is this excellent one, heard when taking down a large enemy.
The phrase “inordinate exsanguination” (bleeding a lot, essentially) is going to make a strong impression, but when coupled with the deep grumble of the Narrator, it further enhances the game’s atmosphere without sounding too silly. While other lines may be more iconic, this one is fantastic and deserves more recognition.
4 “As Life Ebbs, Terrible Vistas Of Emptiness Reveal Themselves.”
While this quote at face value seems like the perfect addition to the game with its bleak outlook for those facing down death, it holds even more importance for fans of Lovecraft. In Lovecraft’s work, the more positive characters dream of beautiful vistas, whereas those dealing with the eldritch see more horrifying vistas.
These “terrible vistas” contribute to their spiral into madness, which ties in with many themes and elements of Darkest Dungeon and how the heroes can become insane or virtuous from their prolonged stress levels.
3 “Prodigious Size Alone Does Not Dissuade The Sharpened Blade.”
Throughout the title’s many battles, the Narrator punctuates different actions with archaic language and endless foreboding. Here, however, when taking down a large enemy, the Narrator is almost teasing the enemies. No matter how huge and intimidating a foe may be, the player will still try and take them down.
To hear something that is slightly amusing in such a serious game is a lovely surprise, especially after a long trudge through a tough dungeon. This encourages the player to keep pushing deeper, taking on tougher enemies, and hopefully making it out alive. This line is venerated by the community, a rare message of hope and inspiration in this macabre world.
2 “Remind Yourself That Overconfidence Is A Slow And Insidious Killer.”
In most other games, success is accompanied by a chime of pleasant music, a cheer from someone in a crowd, or just something nice for the sake of positive reinforcement. Darkest Dungeon always treads the line between a glimmer of hope and a feeling of despair. This incredible line, so perfectly applicable to most things, comes firmly under the latter category.
Only appearing after a victory in battle, it immediately tries to ground a headstrong gamer. It reaffirms every lesson the game teaches and encourages the player to continue to tread carefully despite their success, making it easily one of the best (and most beloved) quotes in the game.
1 “Many Fall In The Face Of Chaos, But Not This One. Not Today.”
For all of Darkest Dungeon’s brilliant writing, the best Narrator quotes come in the midst of the gameplay. There’s nothing more satisfying than an unlikely success being framed by the rare uplifting quote, and this is perhaps the best of the bunch.
As you delve deeper into the darkness, as the light flickers out, your Heroes become increasingly stressed. If they become too stressed, they can suffer from an Affliction, or, if you’re lucky, gain a Virtue. If it’s the latter, the image of a Hero shines on the screen and the Narrator underlines this success, delivering the line in a matter-of-fact nature that feels glorious in comparison to the rest of the game.
Next: Darkest Dungeon: Tips For Beginners