key review info
- Game: Dark
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
Darkness has always fascinated humans because on the one hand, it suggests that danger is close by and makes us vulnerable, while on the other hand, it opens us up to the idea of mystery and exploration.
Dark is a video game developed by Realmforge Studios and published by Kalypso Media that aims to explore the place that darkness has in the world of men through the eyes of a vampire.
The aim is to create a stealth-based experience where the player needs to be aware of his surroundings, explore his powers and decide on the best way to clear a level in order to reach a number of objectives.
The story of Dark is built around Eric Bane, a man who is on his way to becoming a ghoul unless he can get access to the blood of some pretty powerful vampires.
Basically, he was bitten but his maker abandoned the turning process and the player needs to navigate the underworld of the vampires, who are small but powerful in order to avoid becoming a mindless ghoul.
The world of vampires that Realmforge creates is heavily inspired by popular pop culture and the team does not attempt to introduce any innovation.
Characters are a little flat and I never really cared for Eric and his plight, especially given that he has the gravelly voice and irritable attitude of most modern troubled heroes.
The mechanics of Dark are also mediocre at best and fail to make the experience memorable in any way.
Being a vampire means that Eric can learn powers, ranging from confusion to strangling at range, but his main way of dealing with enemies is sneaking.
Players need to choose a path through the level and avoid detection while getting behind enemies in order to instantly kill them or drain them of blood to power special attacks.
Basically, the game is an interplay between using the most impressive powers and finding ways to get close enough to humans to drain them without attracting attention.
The concept is sound, but the execution in Dark suffers quite a bit.
The character cannot jump over obstacles and his only option to get around some guards is a vampiric leap, similarly to the Blink in Dishonored.
Unfortunately, the targeting for this special power is deficient and it’s hard to get exactly where you need to in order to avoid detection, which leads to constant reloads after being detected.
Gamers also get access to a special sense that allows them to see enemies through walls and plan his route through a level.
The problem is that it’s never clear where the humans are looking or how good their hearing is, which makes almost every kill a gamble.
With enough patience and planning it’s possible to get through levels in Dark via stealth alone but most of the time, I simply took out a few enemies without being seen before choosing a good ambush spot in order to simply kill the rest and drain a few to restock blood supplies.
One aspect of the game that’s well implemented is the graphical style, which uses cell shading to make the game world seem alien and suggests the change in perspective that actually being a vampire would entail.
The sound design is less impressive, with some wooden voice acting, especially for the main character, and one song that repeats itself every time the player makes his way back to the Sanctuary area.
The big problem with Dark is that it has the resources of a small game, in terms of money and development talent, but wants to be counted among the big releases of the year.
This disconnect between quality and ambition makes the entire experience forgettable and uninteresting and I rarely understood why Dark exists.
Small games can compete successfully as long as they focus on the solid implementation of just one innovative mechanic, but Dark doesn’t know what its own hook is and fails to deliver any sort of quality.