Since Kalypso Media and RealmForge got our blood pumping to get our hands on Dark this June, we figured it was a good time to revisit this exciting new title to keep our appetites whet. If somehow you have been in the dark for the last several months, here is one of the new exciting titles we are looking forward to this year.
In the world of DARK, you play as Eric Bane, a newly “born” vampire, must uncover the secrets of this world, and the mysterious GeoForge Corporation by stealthily exploring a variety of modern environments, while using your unique vampire powers to dispatch all those who dare oppose you.
The game starts off as you are trying to find initial answers knowing that you used to be Eric Bane of the M17 Special Forces and now you are a target of that very same group. Also, you are attempting to save yourself from becoming a mindless killing machine by finding one of the master vampires. Without giving more away, Dark is filled with twists and turns and promises to be as interesting to see unfold as it will be to play.
Graphics And Sound:
Dark is a game of dark (no pun intended) themes and dark (again) environments, but the game uses a 3D cel-shaded visual style coupled with some excellent lighting so that it still features great color and rich contrast. The environments vary from office buildings, alleys, and casinos to put the graphics to great use. Kalypso also plans to make advanced graphic settings for the PC version of Dark, giving the greatest visual experience your system can handle. As it turns out deadlines for the Xbox 360 platform requires the games to be done at a certain time for physical production - which allows more time for PC graphic adjustments. Dark’s cutscenes are designed to match the action graphically, which helps maintain the suspension of disbelief and the flow of the experience. As far as I can tell so far, the sound is excellent and the music, amazing.
The most beautiful game with the best story in the world can still be unplayable if the game mechanics don’t work right. Luckily, even though they are being adjusted every day the current gameplay builds, both mechanics and options, are not just playable but solidly defined. So much so, in fact, that if the game were to release tomorrow based on the last build I played, it would be great fun! This makes it look easy to be optimistic that once the final version is released this summer, hopefully in June, Dark will be a great game in many aspects. The control choices are intuitive to the third person genre and are easily picked up and mastered so that players can concentrate on play rather than on learning to play.
The gameplay style itself is a different take on a well-established formula. This game heavily involves the use of stealth, misdirection, and strategic approach. It is not a “run and gun” experience by any means. As a matter of fact, you don’t use a gun! Many enemies are just better off being avoided completely and the whole area of a level should be considered from a safe spot before moving out. One of the vampiric talents you get is the ability to sense blood around you as well as sensing if you are being observed. This enables you to have an infrared-style look at a level, showing glowing red figures of your enemies and whether or not they already see you. This is a great way to keep you from stepping out from behind some crates into a six man crossfire which I saw plenty of when people weren’t being cautious during hands-on play.
Another vampiric trait that helps is called “Shadow Leap”: A teleporting ability showcased in the teaser trailer that has been released. It is based on line of sight and makes it so that you can teleport to any location you see regardless of obstacles between you and the destination. This can prove great for moving quickly across rooms to escape guards, teleporting past fences to prevent pursuit – heck, this is a great way just to cross a room, period. The best use of this, however, is teleporting right up next to an enemy and feeding on them or dispatching them in some other way. There is a definite feeling of satisfaction when you appear in a puff of black smoke and sink your teeth into an enemy. Remember, this game is a third person stealth/actioner, not a third person shooter – so you have to rely on techniques that let you pass enemies or let you get up close and personal to them fast.
To help with this there is a skill point system with skill trees and experience-gathering. There are multiple trees and multiple traits on them that are at this time designed to make significant improvements to your play. Also, they vary enough to allow player’s customization in how they play the game. Off-hand examples would be trying to complete a level without killing guards or half-vamps, another would be killing everyone in sight, another would be teleporting through as much as possible as fast as possible. There will also always be those who want to just run in and kill like crazy and only retreat to cover when they are about to die. The developers have taken all these styles and more into account and have already built in great replayability with just these trees and traits since you can play through a different style each time. Add to this the variety of environments and replayability should not prove an issue.
The more I get my eyes and hands on Dark, the more I salivate to play it. I want to be playing it so badly that I think I am becoming Renfield-mad! Dark should run about 8-10 hours for each play when it comes out, but with so many options of skills, I know I will be playing it more than once. I just wish I could start tonight! Dark is a nightmare of a game that should be a dream to play.