Dark Fall 2: Lights Out
Some claim the adventure genre is more dead than alive but there still are clues that lovers of point&click gameplay should not despair. Think of some recently announced games and rumours that Sam&Max2 may still be on its way. A second sign is that we’ve received quite a couple of adventure games recently and Dark Fall 2: Lights Out is the most recent example of that. Whether it’s a good example is another question!
Dark Fall 2: Lights Out is the successor of Dark Fall: The Journal which was released by The Adventure Company, a company focusing on adventures. The storyline of this second episode was greatly inspired by an ancient poem in which three lighthouse guards disappeared mysteriously. Your own role is that of Benjamin Parker who’s gotten the assignment to map the area around the little town of Trewarthan. In no time you discover that one lighthouse strangely enough has never been charted. Even more strange it becomes when during a very misty night, the beacon of that tower doesn’t light up. Of course you start to investigate, only to find out that there’s no sign of life in the tower. Or no sign of life as we know it! Scary whispers and warnings from ghostly appearances try to make your hair stand up straight and make it clear this is a ghost story where Mulder and Scully wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.
Most of the game you’ll be walking around between this building and its surroundings. This may seem little variation at first but the fact that you’ll traverse four time periods in history solves this nicely. The walking is done in a classic way, with the same classic problems like not finding means to go to the next screen. This “next screen” should be taken literally; you can hardly say the graphics are more than some upgraded powerpoint presentations although one with beautiful visuals and lots of details (both when it comes to antique interiors and modern stuff from the future) which make it worthwhile to investigate every pixel. Of course some more movement could have been added but this never starts to bother too much and since graphics is a less important thing for this type of game, you can hardly blame it.
The sound is good, with nicely fitting-in effects (important for the creepy atmosphere) and lots of variation in the music. The sea, the howling of the wind, the screeching of a machine, everything fits nicely. Also the well-done voice-acting deserves a mentioning, only what the ghosts tell is hard to understand but of course you can hardly expect them to follow a course of abbacy.
The puzzles (this is and stays an old-skool adventure) are mostly around discovering what has happened in the lighthouse. Solving is mostly done by watching carefully, discovering new places, creatively using your inventory and sadly also by doing pixelhunting every so often. For me, such a game can’t be hard enough and that’s what this adds, but you can hardly call this a good way to increase the lifespan of your game. You really have to scan each millimeter of your location with your cursor to be sure not to miss anything and that in each of the four timezones which can often lead to frustration.
Another big part of the gameplay, next to puzzles and exploration, consists out of reading lots of text. People without much patience will not like this a lot but you’ll probably have guessed that by now. Too bad that there isn’t more use of movies to tell the story. The setting and atmosphere are perfect for it. Interaction with other characters is also very limited as you’ll hardly meet any.
Although the detailed graphics, the idea of the time zones and the good sound manage to create a believable setting, with certainly in the beginning an exciting story, Dark Fall 2 doesn’t manage to convince completely. For that, you need to read too much, hunt pixels too much, and solve nice puzzles too little. Also, the game is just too short: a somewhat experienced adventurer can finish it in a long winter day. The scary atmosphere also doesn’t manage to stay vividly present throughout the full story. Who on the other hand likes a classic adventure with lots of detail, difficult problems and a gameplay where lots of things need to be discovered and read will find just what they’re looking for here. A fun and rather short in-between but not a game that will make people love this genre.