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Dark and Darker Mobile delivers devilishly fun dungeon-crawling

An interview with Krafton’s Joonseok Ahn, producer of Dark and Darker Mobile, where we take a deep dive into the dungeon-delving mobile extraction game.

image of a dark and darker mobile character holding a lit torch to illuminate a dungeon

When Dark and Darker Mobile was originally announced, the somewhat jaded Dark and Darker community breathed a collective sigh of relief when they heard that Krafton would be the one to publish the mobile version of their beloved dungeon crawler. Krafton’s reputation precedes it, and justifiably so, because its legacy of having such a successful port with PUBG to mobile is something that the publisher should be incredibly proud of.

We had the opportunity to sit down with the lead producer of Dark and Darker Mobile, Joonseok Ahn, to discuss that spin-attack, his love and dedication to the original IP, and all of the ideas that have emerged from the depths of the proverbial dungeon since they started the project. The game is infused with a mixture of old and new elements to keep it feeling fresh, and is something that both Bluehole Studio and Krafton have absolutely succeeded at. You can check out just how much we loved it in our Dark and Darker Mobile preview.

If you’re after even more games that delve into the world of fantasy, check out our picks for the best games like The Witcher 3, or if you want to check out one of Krafton’s biggest games, we explain exactly how to download PUBG Mobile on your handheld devices.

Pocket Tactics: You so skilfully ported PUBG to mobile devices, so were there any particular methods you applied to Dark and Darker Mobile that you borrowed from your successful porting of PUBG?

Joonseok Ahn: We didn’t have any special new technology that we applied to Dark and Darker Mobile, but as you know we have the heritage of putting PUBG to mobile and so we saw the potential here to port the PC version of Dark and Darker to mobile also. But Dark and Darker PC and Dark and Darker Mobile are two completely different games; the mobile version is solely and independently developed by Bluehole Studio.

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Ironmace’s Dark and Darker saw pretty consistent metas like Buffball – where you have a tank archetype, normally a fighter or barbarian, frontlining with a cleric or bard buffing them from the backlines – get tweaked and nerfed regularly, so will you be keeping a watchful eye on how the meta plays out on Dark and Darker Mobile and developing consistent updates to keep all classes and builds feeling somewhat useful?

JA: Well, as you know, Dark and Darker Mobile is very fun when you play with teammates, so there are specific roles for each class and meta, and we plan to add additional classes and skills with relevant balance patches. There are a lot of styles of games that can be played in the dungeon, so some classes will have special advantages compared to others at any time. But we will continue to develop these sorts of gimmicks [to keep them relevant].

One of the first things I wanted to try out during my playtest was the unique spin-attack that we’ve already seen in trailers for Dark and Darker Mobile. As fast-paced and tactical as the game can sometimes be, with spellbooks and different weapons at players’ disposal, how did you go about optimizing the combat for Dark and Darker Mobile?

JA: So in Dark and Darker Mobile, the combat is very unique and there are three main things that make it so. First of all, mobile screens are very small [compared to computer monitors or televisions], and so this was the first issue. So we tried to come up with an automatic system to make combat better and more convenient for players. Secondly, as you know, the combat in the mobile version is different from that of Ironmace’s desktop game. So that’s why we tried to optimize and provide a rich combat experience for players, both in PvP and PvE modes. And thirdly, because we have very different controls on mobile than on desktop, this means there will be different spells and attacks for our mobile version.

We are not just converting the PC game to mobile devices, we are developing completely new skills by ourselves. So we are focused on mobile optimization with these new systems and controls, and we are also looking at providing the ability to use Switch controllers for Dark and Darker Mobile, too.

image of krafton offices with a dark and darker mobile display

When Krafton introduced Metro Royale to PUBG Mobile, was there a definitive decision to create a dedicated extraction mobile game, and how did you come to settle on Dark and Darker?

JA: Well, Metro Royale in PUBG Mobile was a sub-mode, so we took a very different approach with Dark and Darker Mobile. Players will repeat gaming sessions over and over to escape, and for our core play we have a lot of systems such as support, community, and mercenary, and we believe that we are not just providing a sub-mode such as Metro Royale, but we are making a completely new genre of extraction game with Dark and Darker Mobile. The core play is made up of extraction, RPG, battle royale, and dungeon crawler elements, so we plan to provide various modes such as extraction PvE, as well as PvP and arena modes.

One of the biggest differences between Dark and Darker Mobile and the original desktop version is the ability for players to choose dedicated PvE or PvP dungeons – was this a decision that eventually came through various playtests and development, or something you decided from the beginning, and what other major differences does Dark and Darker Mobile have compared to Ironmace’s game?

JA: We noticed that one of the main things that players enjoyed in the original desktop version was the tension and the full immersion they experienced when they were engaged in a game. Where they don’t know when other players will attack them, from the back or the front, and on top of that, if they fail to escape, they lose everything.

This can lead to a lot of players not wanting to play the next game, as this was quite a hardcore element in the PC game. That’s why we wanted to offer a ‘mid-core’ mode in the mobile version with PvE. This was one of the main areas we focused on, and can be summarized as a dungeon-crawling RPG full of monsters, and is the main part of the game we will be looking to expand going forward. This is because PvE isn’t as stressful on players as PvP.

Were there any major limitations or changes you simply had to make from the original desktop game for it to work so fluidly and so intuitively on mobile? It feels like its own entity, so were there any things you immediately wanted to scrap and get rid of, or what things did you want to keep from the original game to help make it feel cohesive?

JA: Regardless of genre, I’m a big fan of the original game’s look and feel and the first impression it gives. I wanted to keep the same user experience and creativity for Dark and Darker Mobile as the desktop game, so I tried to keep the original game’s map, design, and classes. So with players trying to escape through unknown dungeons, gathering treasures as they go, we have to allow for many players to play against each other in PvP. We kept that core PvP and adventure element in Dark and Darker Mobile, but then added AI support like mercenaries to assist players in returning to the game, to keep them coming back.

You’ve already confirmed that we’ll get fighter, barbarian, rogue, ranger, and cleric classes upon release, but will we see additional classes being added and therefore subclasses and multiclassing introduced to Dark and Darker Mobile?

JA: Besides the five classes we already have, there are classes such as wizard or bard that we are planning to add, but we don’t currently know the order in which we will develop and release them. Multiclassing is of course a famous system that’s been adopted in Dungeons and Dragons, and we haven’t decided on whether or not we are going to implement the system in Dark and Darker Mobile yet. We can’t just create new classes and then leave it at that, we have to create maps and different combinations with classes in order for them to work best.

dark and darker mobile character preparing to open a rune covered door in a dungeon

The topic of a druid class has already been discussed at length within the Dark and Darker community. So were there any plans to introduce this fan-favorite class to Dark and Darker Mobile, and what does the immediate future for Dark and Darker Mobile look like as far as a roadmap goes?

JA: I know a lot of eyes are on the druid class, and we will definitely be developing that in the future, but we don’t know exactly when. One of the biggest things we will focus on is having users play together and create a community. Everyone who has tested the game has said it’s a lot of fun, especially when playing together, so we will develop a guild system so that players can gather and embark on adventures together, and this will also allow them to share items. 

Secondly, we will think about how we can have a routine for players. We already have hardcore versions, but we have the low to mid-core versions as we previously mentioned, so we’ll be focusing on how players re-enter these sessions with systems like support and mercenary.

Most importantly, our final question to you, Joonseok, is what is your favorite class to play and why?

JA: My favorite class to play is ranger, because it was the most difficult class to develop on mobile as it’s a long-range character with bows and arrows. I played it so much as we were testing it and in the next build, we’ll have an even better and more improved ranger. So I ended up liking it the most!

We don’t have a definitive timeframe for when the Dark and Darker Mobile release date will arrive, so check out our picks for the best RPGs and the best games like Elden Ring that are available to play right now. But in the meantime, the whole Pocket Tactics office is preparing to take on monsters, mimics, and enemies a-plenty once we can open the doors to the dungeon.