Darkest Dungeon is remarkably polished for a Steam Early Access game, but it's also remarkably difficult. Some would even say that, in its current (evil) larval phase, it's too difficult—to the point of being unfair or un-fun. Thank goodness for mods.

A modder who goes by the handle Maester Silvio has taken apart Steam's out-of-nowhere psychosis-ridden sensation and reassembled it into a couple different forms. First up, there's the Lighter Dungeon mod, which drops the game's difficulty—but only ever so slightly:

"Darkest Dungeon is a difficult game, and the Lighter Dungeon mod only eases your suffering a tiny bit. Remaining true to the core of the game and the pace of it was the priority when designing this mod. Do not expect a 'win' button by installing Lighter Dungeon."

The idea, then, is to stay true to the spirit of the game while still making it manageable for those who've hit (or been hit by) a wall. They've done this by reducing stress penalties a little, dropping costs of things by between five and fifteen percent (including the sanitarium!), reducing the consequences of debuffs, beginning all quests with four free provisions, and lowering damage of some enemies by a point.

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The changes are, in other words, minuscule, but they add up to an experience that's slightly less of a screaming self-mutilation gauntlet than vanilla Darkest Dungeon. I can get behind that, if only because I like to be a little frustrated by challenging games—it makes victory all the sweeter—but not so much that I'm yanking my hair out and making up new curse words ("fuck-thul-you," etc).

Silvio's also working on a mod that makes Darkest Dungeon even harder, fittingly titled the Pitch Black Dungeon mod. It's still early, but you can download it and try it out. For now, changes focus on upping penalties and decreasing rewards, but the plan is to make the bloodthirsty bastards that lurk below even more bastardly as well. At the moment, Silvio's making sure it all balances out rather than blindly twisting knobs to see what happens.

Now, a disclaimer: Darkest Dungeon is still very much in Early Access, and its developers are updating it constantly. This means that mods are about as brittle as can be—humming along perfectly one second and on the brink of collapsing the next. Silvio plans to account for version incompatibility issues as often as possible, but there will likely still be some lag time between updates. There's also a chance all this tinkering could fry your save file, so make sure to back it up just in case.

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Still though, it's nice that modders are already giving players options in case the base version of Darkest Dungeon isn't quite doing it for them. Even if you think making the game easier (or harder) is complete blasphemy, there's something to be said for flexibility.

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