In each and every one of us some Darkness lures around. More important is that you can control it and don’t let it take you over. This is of course not always as reasy since people’s patience is sometimes pushed to the limit. It are such dramatic experiences that we see on the news every day that decide our lives and this is exactly what also happened with Jack Estacado, the main character in … The Darkness
The Darkness is base don a succesful comic book series that started in 1996. While the game doesn’t completely follow the comics storyline to the detail, the most important characters do take leading roles in the game. So let’s give a quick summary of the storyline for our readers: on your way to kill someone you quickly find out that your uncle, mob boss Paulie Franchetti, prefer you more dead than alive. Let’s say you’ve got a different idea about doing business and Paulie has some more violent tendencies. After having survived the hit suddenly dark forces inside you come alive and it’s time to deal with uncle dearest.
This Darkness is a parasite that ever since World War 1 is waiting for your 21st birthday to get to work and faith of course took care that the manifestation of this perfectly coincides with your call for revenge on the mafia!
The game is mostly situated in New York and also partially in the Otherworld. The latter is some sort of alternative and hellish version of the first World War. In New York you’ll visit Chinatown, the harbour and several other locations while in Otherworld you’ll be seeing trenches and destroyed villages. Also the four riders of the Apocalypse will be making their appearance in their respective forms!
When hanging around in New York you’ll mostly be fighting against gangsters and corrupt policemen. Not really special and their weak spot is easily found: the head. The Nazi-zombies you’ll be fighting in the Otherworld will be a bit harder as they’ll stand back up only seconds after you’ve shot them down.
In the city there are a couple of safe zones where you can walk around to get some peace and calm after all the violence and horror. These are two subway stations where you can collect sidequests and by finishing those you can make yourself stronger and unlock all kinds of extras like comics, concept art and renders.
What gets noticed most about the game are of course those two mysterious tentacles that come out of your back! This external expression of The Darkness gives the possibility to slay your oppnonents in a somewhat less pleasing (for them) but very amusing way. The first deadly form is a sort of snake with which you can climb walls and kill enemies that are hidden or just take out the lights to create more darkness.
The second form you’ll have is a tentacle with which you can splice your opponents. Other options are that you can smash lamps or throw cars your possible hostiles. Your third power are two special firearms where the first one shoots like a standard weapon while the second emits some sort of shock wave that will blow your opponents out of the way. The fourth and final power is a black hole you can create where you want. This weapon is so strong that it makes you almost invincible: alles enemies are sucked in to afterwards get spit out with a no health left. If you want more and make your Darkness stronger you’ll have to feed with the hearts of your opponents. This leads to some pretty cool animations when you see your tentacles eating!
Next to these powers you’ve also got the so-called Darklines. These minions will help you slay your enemies or take out light sources. The latter of course always comes in handy as The Darkness needs the dark to kick ass. Your first helper is the Berserker who takes on anyone with his bare hands. During the course of the game he’ll find new weapons like a fire axe, drill or saw. The Gunner is the second Darkling the will accompany you and he’s a distance fighter that keeps shooting until the enemy is dead. Unfortunately he’s got this little annoying habit of shooting walls or even yourself when you accidentally end up in the line of fire. The third minion is the Kamikaze and as his name suggests his specialty is blowing himself up and everyone in his neighbourhood along with him. The last one is the Light Killer and here the name again says it all.
Graphically the game doesn’t really push the console to its limits and this is probably due to the fact that it uses the same engine as Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. While it’s been heavily adjusted for use on next-gen consoles, other games will look a lot better. Still, The Darkness does look pretty cool but that’s mostly thanks to the good art, atmosphere and characters.
Soundwise the game is truly awesome. The terrifying voice of The Darkness that constantly seems to be out of breath, the scared dialogues of the enemies when seeing your tentacles, and the environment sounds make for a very good atmosphere. Nice is also that you can check out pieces of film or music clips in several places and even watch some break dancers in exchange for some money.
Starbreeze Studios also added a multiplayer part. Contrary to the single player, the quality of this is a lot less. All standard modes are present and CTF looks currently to be the most appealing. A nice addition is the possibility to transform yourself to a Darkling. You may miss the firepower of the humans then, but you can climb high walls at high speed to afterwards reshape an opponent with your claws.
After Chronicles of Riddick this is again a very qualitative title that’s more than worth to wear the name of a license. The story, the surprising powers and fun Darklings, the grimm and adult atmosphere and some welcome innovations are a fresh wind through the genre. Starbreeze Studios again succeeds in showing why they’ve got such a good reputation and we’re already looking forward to seeing more from this developer.