Developed by Realmforge Studios, Dark may be an unknown game for many of you. This is Realmforge Studios’ first attempt at an Xbox 360 game and unfortunately a first attempt it feels. So instead of you scrolling down to the bottom to reveal the overall score, instead try and count how many vampire related puns I can bite into this review.
Dark sees gamers suck life out themselves as you play the protagonist Eric Bane, a newly formed vampire who hasn’t quite made the full transformation into vampirehood. Now while this is never really explained – it just happened – you quickly learn that unless you suck the blood from the vampire that has bitten you, you’ll transform into a mindless ghoul. The missions take this form and you’ll regularly find yourself sneaking around in this stealth action video game.
Lurking in dark corners is mindless AI and frustrating blood-boiling gameplay comes as standard, so it won’t take you long before you wished Eric Bane would just rise out of the television and put you out of your misery. The lack of actual story means you don’t get attached to any of the characters and to be honest, they are extremely lackluster and you’re not really bothered about what happens to them.
The idea behind the gameplay isn’t a bad one, as Realmforge have tried to take different ideas from many different games that have already feasted upon our eyes. Unfortunately the implementation of those ideas just doesn’t work. For example, Bane, over time, will gain plenty of vampire abilities to kill enemies. Nice idea. The problem occurs when you can’t attack your enemies because they have long range weapons such as guns. So instead you have to try and sneak your way to each individual enemy without them noticing you. Due to the sluggishness in the controls this just doesn’t feel fluid and you end up dying. I’ll explain the reason you end up dying later, as it’s pretty shocking.
Graphically, Dark is cell-shaded which works quite well with the dark theme, and while the first time you pierce an enemy’s neck is reasonably satisfying, you’ll very rarely be looking forward to your next victim. Instead you’ll just be looking to play another game.
Dark feels so outdated it’s difficult to see how the developers didn’t want to change what they have created. For a game that is supposed to be built around stealth, the movement of Eric Bane is just clunky. Regularly you’ll be floating along the ground, and while you can ‘shadow leap’ – which is teleporting over a short distance – you can’t climb over tiny walls that are right in front of you. It’s extremely restrictive and this just leads to frustration. Even from the outset, during the opening scenes in the sanctuary, it’s like a human maze and the people in the sanctuary dancing are brick walls and their is no way to move them. This just wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, happen in a video game these days.
Moving on to the guards, and continuing from my comments earlier, it is just plain silly. During the tutorial you’re even told that the guards are robotic and will follow the same pattern and routine. If you get spotted by a guard and you hide behind a wall until the alert meter is reduced, they will stare at the said wall with their guns aimed at you not moving an inch. You could offer these guards a million pounds or a night with Kelly Brook and they still wouldn’t bat an eyelid. You just have to try and charge at them, dodging the bullets in a Matrix-style move – which doesn’t work – and hope that you get to him before you die and have to repeat the level again. It’s really poor, and given we are gearing up for the next generation of consoles, this really should not be an issue. As a passing comment I’m also not sure why the ghouls attack me, but not the guards. Hmmm.
So the gameplay is poorly executed. But at least you have the story….no? You’d like to think so, but it comes across as a story that didn’t have a lot of thought put into it. There’s plenty of questions which are left unanswered, and the boring characters don’t help. Very quickly you’ll get the “I just don’t care” feeling and you’ll be sapped of all energy.
In summary, the game is extremely outdated. It’s thirsty work playing this game and the sheer frustration with the game’s mechanics will drive you to your own coffin. The characters are uninteresting with their extremely scripted uninspiring vocals, the missions are poorly thought out and it’s just a generally poor game. If you haven’t heard of Dark i’m not really surprised. There’s nothing in this game that is worthy of a purchase and as harsh as that sounds, you’re better spending your money elsewhere.