Darkest Dungeon’s Ending, Explained
- Who Was Your Ancestor?
- The Pursuit Of Knowledge
- The Heart Of Darkness
- Ruin Has Come
Throughout Darkest Dungeon, your actions, triumphs, and of course, failures, are accompanied by the narration of your Ancestor, urging you onward into the depths while reminding you to keep your expectations in check. However, when you finally reach the deepest, most terrible depths of the eponymous Darkest Dungeon, you become privy to a series of rather… unsettling revelations, not just about the horrors you battle and the Hamlet you own, but about the very nature of the world itself.
Much of Darkest Dungeon's deeper lore is revealed to you through the Ancestor's narration and memoirs. Through these anecdotes, along with a bit of educated guessing, we will attempt to dissect the truth of the Darkest Dungeon itself. We will, as you've likely guessed, be getting into some major story spoilers for Darkest Dungeon here, so if you haven't finished the game yet, go do that first, then come back.
Who Was Your Ancestor?
Your Ancestor was the master of the manor and lord of the Hamlet long before you were. At an indeterminate point in the past, the Hamlet was actually a halfway decent place to live. Thanks to the immense wealth the Ancestor inherited from his family line, it was prosperous and well-defended with a private army, with its citizenry generally fond of the Ancestor thanks to his regular appearances in town. Unfortunately, these dalliances were less out of any particular affinity for the people and more out of a desire to be literally anywhere except amongst his irritating court nobles.
This began to change when the Ancestor received his first brush with the supernatural in the form of the vampiric Countess. After discovering her true nature in the light of the moon and striking her down, he felt a dark urge. Taking the Countess to the Manor's wine cellar, he drained her blood and used it to create a tainted batch of wine.
In a bout of sadistic curiosity, he invited the nobles to a banquet and had them taste the wine, assuming it would poison them. In a way, he was right; they devolved into an animalistic frenzy of violent murder, all while mutating into horrific monsters. Without thinking, the Ancestor drank a single drop of the wine himself and experienced a vision of terror coming from deep beneath the Earth. He needed to know more.
The Pursuit Of Knowledge
The Ancestor began to experiment with all manners of arcane horrors in an effort to learn more about the world beyond our own. He committed ritual human sacrifices, struck bargains with mysterious beings from the depths of the ocean, and created alchemic abominations of twisted flesh.
Ultimately, though, he knew the truth he sought would be found in the depths beneath the Manor, so he spent the majority of his remaining funds to bankroll an expedition, all while the Hamlet suffered and stagnated from his frivolous dealings with the unknown.
Ultimately, the Ancestor and his workmen uncovered what they had been searching for: in the deepest foundations beneath the Manor was a stone gateway, behind which he finally learned the truth of reality as we know it, a truth so horrible that the very knowledge of it drove him to madness and despair.
The game's opening cutscene would have us believe he sent word to you to have you take over the Hamlet before taking his own life, but this may not be the case.
The Heart Of Darkness
In the deepest depths of the so-called Darkest Dungeon, you and your party encounter an image of your Ancestor tied to the Heart of Darkness, a facet of an unimaginably terrifying cosmic deity. Whether this is the Ancestor himself, a spiritual echo of him, or a mere hallucination on your own part isn't clear, but he makes his case rather succinctly: the Heart of Darkness, and the entity it is tied to, will one day consume the entirety of the world, humanity and all.
This is the ultimate truth the Ancestor learned, and when he learned it, he knew that resistance was pointless. Humanity is nothing but a little coincidence of life on the surface of a cosmic eggshell waiting to hatch. This is why he summoned you to the Hamlet and encouraged you to sacrifice your many heroes to the pursuit of truth, all to empower the entity and its forces.
Even when you and your heroes manage to defeat the Heart of Darkness, the Ancestor dismisses it as a brief reprieve, a single grain of sand in the face of an oncoming tsunami.
Ruin Has Come
In all likelihood, you, the Heir, could very well be the one who sets the entity free now that you're burdened with the maddening knowledge of its existence. Or, if it's not you, it'll be your descendent or your descendent's descendent. An immortal deity from beyond time and space has all the time in the world to wait, to feed. Sooner or later, someone will crack under the pressure and let it loose.
The very first and very last words the Ancestor says is, "Ruin has come to our family." Despite the implication, though, he's not talking about your lineage. In his ending monologue, he refers to humanity as "the great family of man."
In other words, "our family" is the entirety of the human race, and ruin has indeed come to it. Humanity is to the entity what an anthill in your backyard would be to you: an idle interest at best and a bothersome pest at worst. The entity will find its way into our plane of reality eventually, and with it will come an unimaginable death and terror that grips the entire world. Judging by the state of said world at the beginning of Darkest Dungeon 2, this was no exaggeration.
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