Starbreeze The Darkness
- Atmospheric as hell, unique powers and creatures, nice mix of stealth and brawn.
- Dipstick AI, tons of tedious walking and talking, uninventive level design.
There's more than enough to like about The Darkness to forgive its notable flaws. It attempts to tread new ground in a tired old genre, which just proves that innovation is still worth something these days.
Price$ 109.95 (AUD)
The last thing you can say about The Darkness is that it's just like every other first-person shooter. Based on the comic book series by Top Cow Productions, it's a refreshing change of pace in a genre marked by copy-cat design and been-there-done-that gameplay. Seriously, The Darkness deserves kudos just for the fact that it doesn't involve Nazis or World War II. But thankfully, the game, which was developed by the same studio that produced the acclaimed and unique Chronicles of Riddick, goes much farther than that.
Swimming with Sharks
Here's a little Darkness primer for those of you who aren't familiar with the comic book series: Jackie Estacado is an orphan who is sent to live with a mob kingpin who raises him to be a hitman. Wow, talk about Father of the Year material. The trouble starts on the night of Jackie's twenty-first birthday when Daddy Dearest sends him a nice present: a bomb that propels Jackie out of his apartment window and down through a skylight. And you thought your Dad was a disciplinarian.
The near fatal-incident has a strange side-effect: it enters Jackie into a forced symbiotic relationship with the Darkness, a bizarre sentient force of unknown origin that treats him like a meat puppet to be directed and manipulated. We'll stop there and let you discover the rest for yourselves.
Now, as much such an unholy union might bother a self-proclaimed free-thinker like Jackie, it does have its benefits, and virtual immortality is only the beginning. The Darkness, which, in a brilliant casting move is voiced by Mike Patton of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle fame, is made manifest by hitting the left bumper button; this results in murky tentacles sprouting from your back, two of which sport glowing eyes and mouths ringed with razor-sharp teeth. True to its name, this filthy presence thrives in the shadows, and any time spent in harsh light is accompanied by the sizzling sound of its discomfort. Feeding them the hearts of downed enemies increases your Darkness Level, which lets you spend longer in bright lights before you're left vulnerable.
Beck and Call
While these snake-like dudes don't do a hell of a lot during gun battles, one of the coolest elements in the game is the ability to send a lone tentacle creeping through small spaces to stealthily dispatch unwary opponents, unlock doors, and explore in relative safety. Slithering up walls, across ceilings, through windows, and finally taking the face off some poor schmuck is so much fun that it's hard to fathom why the uninventive level layouts don't take more substantive advantage of it. The obstacle-dragging Demon Arm you acquire later fares a bit better, since you can at least use it to stab yourself some criminal kebabs.
With your evil partner activated, you can also see dark portals all over the place, through which nasty little gremlins known as darklings can be summoned. At first you'll only have access to Berserkers, an unarmed general-purpose creature to be sent on little errands, like moving an obstacle, or tearing a single villain apart. As the game's chapters progress, you'll gain access to a gatling-wielding Gunner that's sometimes a little too happy to just stand around getting shot at, a strapped-with-explosives Kamikaze nut-job that's more than happy to blow holes in walls and people, and a Lightkiller who just goes around breaking bulbs so you don't have to.
Predictably enough, these little creeps will disappear in a puff of black smoke if they take too much damage, or spend too long in the light. They're loaded with personality, and always seem to have something goofy to say, which helps lighten an otherwise oppressive atmosphere, but, like the creeping tentacle, only rarely does one's presence become necessary or even terribly useful.
Living the Dream
With its detailed environments and moody lighting effects, The Darkness is cinematic as hell, to the point where you'll forgive the mob clich?s, stilted dialogue, and awkward gestures. Still, for all its evocative atmosphere, off-beat ideas, and unique powers, The Darkness doesn't deliver any moments of genuine fright, and it's hamstrung by some mundane design problems. Most noticeable among them is the enemy A.I. which offers nothing more than an uncoordinated resistance, even at the highest difficulty level.
Similarly, one might hope that the action would come fast and furious, but at least half your play time will be spent simply talking to people, and then figuring out how to get where you're supposed to be next. For a brooding action game dripping with atmosphere, it certainly fails to deliver the thrills on a consistent basis.
However, as strangely uneven, poorly paced, and ultimately unsatisfying as The Darkness is, it remains worth checking out for its unusual ideas, twisted gameplay elements, and uniquely dark atmosphere. While so many other games are content to rehash the same tired old stories and stale characters, The Darkness at least tries to tread new ground, which just proves that innovation is still worth something these days. It won't be the best FPS game you've ever played but damn it, it'll be one of the more memorable ones.
Join the newsletter!
We have 4 to give away so jump in!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo A73 review: The budget smartphone that sets the bar for 2018
- 2 Oppo R11s review: The iClone you know and love, but not quite the one you deserve
- 3 Blackberry KEYone Black Edition review: What the original KEYone should have been
- 4 Samsung Gear IconX 2018 review: The path of least resistance makes for an easy upgrade
- 5 TCL X2 review: QLED escapes the premium market
Latest News Articles
- Razer roll out studio-grade Serien Elite microphone
- Blizzard announce new rewards for Battle for Azeroth preorders
- Intel Extreme Masters to bring eSports back to the Qudos Arena in May
- Irdeto Acquires Denuvo
- The Avengers Project release date, platforms, gameplay news & trailers
PCW Evaluation Team
The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
- Sony a7R Mk III review: The strongest case yet for ditching your DSLR
- Oppo A73 review: The budget smartphone that sets the bar for 2018
- Oppo R11s: Full, in-depth review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
Product Launch Showcase
- FTSAP CRM ABAP-BRF+ DevelopersOther
- FTSitecore - Full Stack .Net DeveloperQLD
- CCSharepoint DeveloperVIC
- CCSharePoint DeveloperNSW
- CCCyber Security Business AnalystACT
- TPSenior Program OfficerQLD
- FTSenior Checkpoint Security EngineerOther
- FTData Migration Lead- ECS.106, ETL & SAPOther
- FTICT Infrastructure Support (Level 2 / 3)Other
- FTSoftware Media Applications SpecialistOther
- CCMid-level Architect/Technical Lead ( Java/J2EE)QLD
- TPSAP Project ManagerQLD
- CCShort term - Junior PMACT
- CCHadoop DeveloperVIC
- FTPrinciple Health Sales Executive - Enterprise IT Healthcare Perm - Syd / MelbNSW
- FTL&D Developer - Trainer - eLearning SpecialistNSW
- FTSharePoint O365 - Application SupportOther
- FTData Modeller/AnalystACT
- TPTechnical Business AnalystQLD
- FTERP Systems & Reporting AnalystVIC
- FTOnsite Support EngineerOther
- TPDesktop Support & Procurement AnalystVIC
- FTSAP Functional Analyst x 4. HCM ProgramOther
- FTSolutions Designer ($800 pd incl super)Other
- CCScrum Master Lead - Online DigitalVIC