Modern Review: Dark (360)

Modern-Review-Dark-360Kalypso’s Dark potentially has all the hallmarks of a budget sleeper hit. If the blurb on the box is anything to go by the game is stealth action mixed with RPG elements. Add in the setting – hoodie wearing vampires stalking the shadows brooding a lot and it seems to tick all the boxes. Sadly though, Dark does not manage to excite, thrill or do any other word that slightly denotes the word ‘fun’ in any way.

You are the walking amnesia cliché Eric Bane (sigh) who has stumbled upon a nightclub sporting a hoodie and a five o’clock shadow that would put gumshoes the world over to shame. The game doesn’t really explain why you are there but as you won’t feel much immersion playing the game, don’t worry about it. Vampire lore has been rewritten – he was bitten by a vampire and needs to bite him back in order to become a fully fledged boy scout vampire (you get badges and a woggle and everything). Or if that fails you can chew on a vampire elder as apparently that works a treat too! If Eric does not manage this, he will become a feral ghoul destined to work at Greggs the Bakers for all eternity. It turns out that all the folk who work at the club are also vampires – this becoming the hub you return to after each stage. So that is basically the whole story – get sent out to eat an elder’s face off only to be told you have to go munch on another one (not sure why as if you have snacked on one then surely that’s that?)

Technically the game looks pretty cool – the stages are dripping with neon lighting which really adds to the cell shaded style. Character models however are exceptionally ropey – our stud moves around like he has filled his trousers with pudding. It has the feeling of it isn’t the character moving but the world around him, it becomes annoying after continuous play. The settings in Dark are lovely and detailed though – you can read posters on walls, in office levels computers whirr and printers beep. The biggest problem with the visuals is that everything just seems too clinical. When you press the RT on the controller you enter ‘vampire vision’ which heightens Eric’s senses, giving you more time to react to the situation around you and see guard positions. It looks great and this is the main tool of the game so expect a claw finger on the horizon.

Dark-360-Screenshots

Dark rewards the player by sneaking about. Stealth up on a foe, press the desired pop up button (kill or suck blood) and get EXP. This unlocks more vamp skills such as further teleport distance or the very handy death grip (imagine Darth Vader force killing). Once I unlocked the final death grip skill from its branch I had it relatively easy. Normally you would kill a foe from distance and then go to retrieve the corpse before it is spotted. Maxed out death grip dissolves the body after death so as long as you plan accordingly and always keep a foe ready to blood suck (topping up on blood allows you to use your perks) then the game doesn’t really offer a challenge after figuring out the best way to clear a room of identikit goons. At one point I had six guards all piled up and they were all exact matches and all sported the same YMCA moustache!

I went into Dark hoping it would excite me the same way Dishonored did or Thief but the game is too sparse. You can’t even jump for a start which is utter lunacy. You can snap to walls to avoid the gaze of guards (they literally can not see you even if you are behind glass so long as you are snapped to it!) but four times out of ten it just didn’t work, killing any slight chance of fluidity you may have had. There is no point in trying to chain together kills either as it is too clunky. Just kill, hide and repeat. You can only attack an enemy with one button press anyway. So there are no combos or stylish deaths to be had. Most end with a donkey punch to the back of the head. If you get to the end of an area without being spotted you are rewarded with an XP bonus. But I found on many occasions if Eric is spotted you may as well re-load the game any way as all hell breaks loose! Every guard runs at you all at the same time resulting in instant death. You can’t defend yourself so may as well not bother! Speaking of not bothering, by the time the twist in the story happens you simply don’t care enough for it to take root.

It can’t all be doom and gloom though can it? Well, yea it can, the game is rubbish! It does make you laugh though so there is entertainment to be had. The characters are so badly voiced it would make a room full of Keanu Reeves seem Oscar worthy. Hackneyed stereotypes ahoy – the security guy at the club being my favourite. Words such as ‘brah’ and ‘dude’ really have no place in a vampire game! Add in the worst ever Mass Effect conversation branches in a watery attempt to add depth to the characters and you have before you an utter shambles. The end boss also made me laugh after the initial sigh of humdrum – you LITERALLY run around the edge of the room until it is finished! It is potentially the worst end boss I have ever had the misfortune of going up against which was a fitting way for Dark to end.

Dark (Xbox 360) Gameplay

There are a few reasons for reviewing Dark. Firstly, I love the challenge of playing rubbish / obscure games. I also have a strange addiction to Kalypso games – Tropico 4 had me playing for days on end. Most importantly though is that no man or his dog has played or heard of Dark, so I would consider it to be a collectors nightmare in the future. So go out and snap up a copy! You will regret it immediately, but at least it won’t burn a hole in your wallet.


 

James 'ewjim' Evans

Jim is a self confessed know it all when it comes to 16-bit gaming. With a strange fondness of playing rubbish videogames for the fun of it, there is no stoop too low he won't go to for entertainment.

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Comments 

(Link to this comment) ollie809 2014-02-09 16:45
good review sounds like it could of been a cool game if given some effort, i'll be giving this a miss though!
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