I love beta testing. If someone paid me to do it, it would probably be my perfect job. I dream of being the guy in “Grandma’s Boy” who finds all the bugs on levels 5 through 10, then plays a blistering competitive game for lunch. So far, it has not been in the cards for me.  However, when I can get into a game’s beta test and start not only helping to note bugs and problem areas but, also, helping give an indie game a fighting chance, I dive at the chance. That is definitely the case with Dark Matter, a title that is currently looking for crowd funding to reach a refined state for public consumption.  Here are the details of what they say needs fixing and my notes on what I think needs to get fixed to make a currently “okay” game a into a good one.

Official List of Current Issues with Beta

Current Issues – Kickstarter campaign funding will allow InterWave to correct/polish these known issues with the Preview Beta build:

·         Biggest Issue: The game needs final polish.

·         In addition, Dark Matter can become too difficult which can lead to frustration.

·         To improve this, InterWave will use the funding from Kickstarter to improve the following key areas. This will take two months of additional development/refinement and then they will be able to launch Dark Matter:

o    Improving weapons balancing

o    Increasing aiming refinement

o    Improving uneven level pacing

o    Levels after the 14th (after killing the alien queen) are not ready yet

o    Completion debugging process.

o    Refinement of Enemy AI

·         Better communication/information providing to players.

Hands On:

Dark Matter is a side scrolling shooter with puzzle solving elements set in a space ship under attack by alien invaders – a good old fashion “bug hunt”.  Your primary weapon is a pistol, which recharges to reload and has limitless ammo. Additional weapons can be found along with add-ons,  but the game requires crafting of ammo and upgrades.  These crafting supplies are scavenged and dropped by enemies when killed.  As you work along the dark interiors of the space ship, you might find a blown fuse you have to replace in order to open a door. Or, you may have to figure out how to cross a room full of alien bear traps – figuring these out keeps the game from being just all “run and gun” and let’s players use their brains as well as their bullets.  The game is only savable at save/respawn station, as is crafting at crafting stations.  The game is fun and playable now in beta form but really could do with some polish.


The fix list above is pretty accurate as to the issues encountered that need attention for a polished version of the game to reach players hands.  I purposely tested the game before consulting the list to find out how much my experience matched what they said needed work.  I only had a couple of collision errors and was able to “unstick” myself from the walls when it happened with just a bit of jumping around.  The pistol packs just about as much punch as the shotgun without the need to craft or manage ammo. So, you can fire along your merry way, shooting at the edge of the screen where, if you listen, you can hear when you hit an enemy and keep them off screen and unable to strike.  This is vital because, once they are on the screen, you may be a crack shot or even use a laser sight – you will still miss like a Stormtrooper.  The laser sight would be improved with an actual dot at target but a shot at an alien bug doesn’t guarantee hitting it anyways as hitboxes needs fleshing out.

Level pacing seemed fine – areas without as many enemies build suspense, loaded levels build adrenaline.  Puzzles were fairly easy to solve with the biggest challenge usually being the obstacles of enemies and winding corridors rather than thought process.  Enemy AI seemed alright, but maybe a slight bit dumbed down. This extra dumbing down did help with the aiming issues, keeping the game from getting too frustrating.  Overall, aiming and hitboxes are the biggest re-occurring issues. Solving those two issues will increase the fun and decrease the frustration extremely – probably more than any other issues currently in the game.

Also, the game needs a finish – it doesn’t have to have closure. Heck, it could even say stay tuned for Dark Matter 2: Darker Matter – it needs something.  Also, the game experience could do with a bit more variety in the aliens you will fight.

First Round:

That is basically where the game is: Someone looking to play a final version of it will need to wait for it to, hopefully, complete its Kickstarter campaign.  This is definitely not one of the projects that is trying to just get funding to cover already incurred costs – it needs some work and right where the company claims it does.  It is a fun game that could frustrating without some polishing, so let’s hope it gets it so everyone can get a chance to play it!

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Dustin "Ripper71" Thomas has been a staff writer with for over 10 years and has taken on the role of Editor with a brief stint as Editor-In-Chief. He is also a co-founder of @IsItOctoberYet where he covers haunt nightmares, amusement park fun and Golden Knights hockey.