Developer(s) – Realmforge Studios
Publisher(s) – Kalypso Media
Director – Benjamin Rauscher
Designer – Christian Wolferstetter
PEGI – 16
Released towards the end of the second generation of gaming, and after a particularly high standard had been well and truly established for stealth games, Dark was met with heavy criticism from reviewers, with complaints commonly levied against reportedly sub-par graphics, terrible voice acting and inconsistently paced gameplay. Whilst I wasn’t quite inclined to give it the 4 out of 10 that many critics gave it upon release, I am adamant that this is a very lackluster title, and certainly incapable of holding a candle to many of the games of its ilk released on either Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 prior that went above and beyond what a conventional stealth game can be.
Graphics – 6.5/10
What I like about the game’s graphics is its conceptual design. It has a cel-shaded visual style, as well as an extremely dark and gritty atmosphere. The heightened senses ability also presents something wonderfully outlandish, giving this game a certain charm about it. The problem is, however, that it’s largely unpolished. As I progressed through it, graphical glitches became more apparent, and it was clear that the game wasn’t yet finished. I can’t help but think that if the developers had put the finishing touched on it before releasing it to retail, or made to be more stylized than what it was, then it could have been considered something more akin to The Darkness II.
Gameplay – 6/10
I held out false hope for this game before I sat down to play it. The game is a stealth RPG, but nowhere near as I imagined it after playing the likes of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Dishonored, which to my initial surprise, both predate this game. When I saw the conversation wheel for the first time, in particular, it made me hopeful that it would be a game similar to Mass Effect. But what it turned out to be was something more akin to Styx: Master of Shadows, which has considerably less variety. Dark has only fractionally more than that, I would discover to my disappointment.
Controls – 8/10
One huge problem I had with the game’s control scheme was that the controls can be unresponsive at times, which can be especially frustrating in a stealth game when players need to be able to react as fast as possible when enemies are just around the corner and the player is about to be discovered when at the same time, a body needs to be hidden as to avoid suspicion. But the biggest problem I had with it was whilst there is an auto-save feature, save cannot be made in between, which means players must repeat entire segments if they make a mistake and wish to go through the game completely undiscovered. Playing the game like that takes fluency out of the title anyway, but it can be needless complicating for the gamers who have the patience to do so.
Lifespan – 4/10
In total, the game can only be made to last an average of 6 hours; way below par for even what other linear stealth game had been made to last before this game had been released. Even some of the best games on the Xbox 360 could only be made to last that long, but in conjunction with my own expectations of what kind of a game this was going to be, it seemed that evermore underwhelming to me.
Storyline – 5/10
The storyline is also extremely vague and one-winded; even from the very beginning. It follows a man called Eric Bane, who suddenly discovers he is a vampire. Desperate to find his creator, he allies himself with Rose, the owner of the Sanctuary club, and her associates, to pursue the path of a vampire and find his creator before it is too late, and he turns into a mindless ghoul. The voice acting is indeed very much laughable and moves at too fast a pace for anyone to be able to take it seriously. It’s nowhere near as bad as House of the Dead 2, but the dialogue does fail at everything it tries.
Originality – 2/10
Dark has some basis in variety with different abilities to learn and different ways to approach combat, but a huge part of the problem is that it was released far too late. By this time, Far Cry 3 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution had turned the entire stealth genre on its head and gave players some of the most memorable seventh-generation experiences, and there was no way that this game could have possibly competed with them.
In summation, Dark, whilst it isn’t the worst seventh-generation game I’ve come across, is much less than an average one. It had considerably less variety than what many other stealth games to have come before it had and is considerably shorter with some impossibly confusing plot threads, bad voice acting, and glitches galore towards the end.