The Darkness Review

Posted: March 11, 2011 in Review
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The Darkness Review

Based on the comic series of the same name, The Darkness follows the escapades of mobster hitman Jackie Estacado, who, on his twenty-first birthday, is possessed by the titular Darkness. Fortunately, this happens on the same day that Jackie is set up to be killed by the Don, his Uncle Paulie, pitching Jackie in a race against time to bring down the boss and stop the Darkness from conquering his soul.

Essentially, The Darkness is an FPS with horror flavourings, although it actually works rather well here (as opposed to F.E.A.R.) because the entire game is coated in a thick layer of gloom. You get a pleasant variety of weapons, ranging from pistols to assault rifles, although they will often take a backseat to the more satisfying Darkness weapons.

Using the Darkness creates some entertaining ways to play the game. Creeping Dark will send out a snake to make some quick stealth kills, while the Ripper can destroy lights and impale enemies. More amusing are the overpowered Darkness Guns and the Black Hole, which do exactly as they suggest. You’re also encouraged to take out the lights in areas you pass through in order to refill your Darkness energy, although there is no on-screen display to let you know how full it is.

The game is disappointingly short, too. If you ignore all the side missions and don’t get lost too many times, it can be blitzed through in about three or four hours. Add on another couple of hours for higher difficulties and completion of all the side missions and you’re still looking at a game that can be rattled through in a couple of sittings.

There are a number of problems with the game, however. Aside from being far too easy even on the hardest difficulty, there are no markers to help you figure out where you’re supposed to go next. The map is also next to useless as it’s far too small and difficult to read, so it can take the first half of your playthrough to figure out where everything is.

There are a number of bugs in the AI as well. The Darklings that you can summon veer wildly between being somewhat useful and totally rubbish. One section requires you to summon an explosive Darkling to sneak into a building and destroy the door for you. However, there’s a fifty-fifty chance that it won’t manage to do that at all and the only way to get around the problem is to turn off the console and try again, something that hampers the rest of the game’s blackly comic charm.

The Darkness might not be to everyone’s tastes as it’s too linear to be an RPG and too focussed on side quests to be that much of an FPS. However it does have a lot of charm and the writing is often exceptional. If you can look past its many issues, there’s a highly enjoyable, well crafted and immersive game underneath.

70%

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