Darkest Dungeon Monsters: The Crimson Court!When I reviewed my favorite Darkest Dungeon enemies weeks ago, I mentioned that its 2016 DLC content would be enough to warrant a review of its own. Perhaps a big shorter and sweeter a review, but what The Crimson Court adds is cool enough that I feel like it could have sustained an entire game of its own, and I'm glad that, as content added so mcuh later to the main game, I had an excuse to spin it off like this and really take my time to talk about it.
The SupplicantThis "Crimson Court" is situated across town over what was once all wetlands, and it is the domain of a family of aristocratic vampires...who also happen to be hybridized with various bloodsucking arthropods.
The Supplicant here is one of the weakest and most common of these vampires, even encountered well outside the campaign's Courtyard dungeon as an enemy in other outdoor areas of the game, and represents an extremely mutated tick. It doesn't look very much like a tick actually does, no, which is a tad disappointing to me as a life long tick fan, but sometimes it's the thought that counts, and the thought here is that a big tick ate somebody's head and started steering their body around like an even better head crab. Better because it's also a vampire and an aristocrat.
The Manservant BloodsuckersHere we have our first example of what seems to be the more "dominant" vampiric race; those that evolved from mosquitoes. Their basic design is fairly simple, just a ghoulish humanoid with very large, dark eyes and a beaky nose, but it's by far my favorite thing in the game. Is it strange that a human with only vague and minimal insect-like features can sometimes look so much cooler to me than a full blown insect? Insects really are my very favorite thing, but I guess I'm so used to them that a lot of insect monsters end up feeling kind of mundane without some odd twist, and it can be a lot more fun to find those cool, charming insect traits hidden away in a totally different creature.
Anyway, this little guy only ranks as a "manservant" of the mosquitoes, but he's also the only one of the encountered outside of their domain - carrying an invitation you will absolutely require to enter the Courtyard.
Yes, these are vampires who have to invite you inside, which is such a hilariously appropriate twist for "high society" vampires that I'm surprised I haven't seen it more often.
The ChevalierAnother you can encounter wandering beyond the Crimson Court itself, it's hard to say what sort of arthropod this is actually supposed to be. It has a face more like a cockroach, earwig or beetle than anything else, but with raptorial forelimbs and a larviform body. It's emerging from water, so maybe it's supposed to be a hellgrammite or something? Whatever the case, the Chevalier is said to be almost mindlessly bestial, so I guess those powdered wigs are secured really tightly.
The Esquire BloodsuckerExclusive to the courtyard proper, a couple of the higher-level vampuitos are not only a whole lot larger than their manservants, but get both a (sort of) "human" form and a "bloodthirsty" form. The bloodthirsty esquire is quite cool, with its far longer proboscis and mantis-like raptorial forelimbs, both befitting a vampire clearly so interested in swordplay.
The Courtesan BloodsuckerSo we all know only female mosquitoes suck blood, but I guess these were mixed with actual vampires, so it's not surprising that all sexes would be sanguivores. The females, however, still seem to be the bigger deal and the ones who actually have wings, even if their bodies are much too cumbersome to get off the ground.
The CrocodileIt's not just bugs and humans affected by this vampire plague, as we also get a big, mutated crocodile with insect-like limbs and a humped, honeycombed back full of regular-sized vampire mosquitoes. The design isn't much more than you would expect from a crocodilian otherwise, but its poses and animations show it scrunching up almost bonelessly, like some sort of maggot or caterpillar!
I feel very slightly let down, however, that they went with a crocodile rather than a big mutant frog, which would fit in even more thematically with all these insects.
Bloodsucker BaronOne of the first boss-level vampires, the baron looks to me like he mutated from a louse. That is definitely a louse's abdomen and louse-ish foreclaws. If that wasn't the intention, maybe he's a bedbug? Either way, a very fun little design, especially how there's a whole second bug-face in his "crotch," which can open its jaws pretty wide!
Bloodsucker ViscountHowever stylized, there's no mistaking the Viscount's segmentation - especially in-game - for anything other than a gigantic flea, one of my favorite of all insects and a rare sight in monster form. Craving more than blood alone, you'll battle him surrounded by (squirming, whimpering) "corpses" he's strung upside-down in gooey webbing and wolfs down throughout the fight. I do want to say that maybe his face is a little generic for an insect monster, but his in-game animation offers loads of personality!
Bloodsucker CountessWe now come to the leader of all the bugpires, and wouldn't you know, she's yet another casualty of your ancestor's terrible love life, though for once, she was actually already a monster. He had no idea she was a vampire - the regular, non-insect kind - when she dazzled him at a fancy dinner ball during his brief affair with high society, but he already had it in his head to eventually murder her, and this time the feeling was finally mutual.
In the ensuing struggle, Nameless Ancestor successfully "killed" the vampire countess, then served her blood to the rest of her court because why the hell not? Given that the court was already built over a mosquito-ridden swamp in a region already polluted by things from beyond, the result was a mutagenic insect-vampire virus and eventual rebirth of the Countess as an awesome mosquito queen.
Just like her courtesans and esquires, the Countess has an alternate "bloodlust" form, with way too many legs even by mosquito standards and twice as many wings, much like Kingdom Death's Oblivion Mosquito from the other day. I'm so glad this is the second time in one month that I get to write about a huge, bloated, monstrous mosquito-woman.
I will say, though, that my mind immediately connected this form's hairstyle with that of Edna Krabappel (RIP) from the Simpsons (also basically RIP) and I'm failing pretty hard to un-see it... though maybe I just don't actually want to.
The Garden GuardianEven after defeating the Countess, you're still not quite done here, because, quote, "The very grounds themselves are animated by a deep-rooted evil, a cosmic hatred for all that thrive beyond its tainted grasp."
That's right; the Crimson Courtyard DLC ultimately ends with you fighting the courtyard itself through this statue, or to be more specific, fighting vampire blood. It's not as visually interesting as the mosquito people, no, but conceptually the coolest note we could have possible ended on.