DARK is a stealth game where you play as Eric Bane in a quest to discover why you have the most generic name for a lead character in a vampire game ever. On your quest to figure out who you are and why your voice is incapable of inflection, you learn that while being a vampire is freaking awesome, you’re a walking time bomb. Apparently in this translation of modern day vampires, a vampire must drink the blood of the vampire who made them a vampire to survive. Otherwise, they become mindless ghouls. A fate I’d describe as far better than having to sit through this mediocre stealth title.
He Doesn’t Sparkle - One thing I can say about DARK is that the interpretation of vampirism isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen. Following somewhere between a modernized idea of vampires, and Vampire: The Masquerade, DARK shows vampires as both awesome and vulnerable. I assume that because silver crosses are expensive, and garlic doesn’t fit well into a shotgun, they’ve decided to make a trade-off. You get cool skills that the people you’re trying to kill don’t, and in exchange, bullets really hurt. In reality, this is fine. Seeing as bullets are pretty much our way of killing each other, I can’t see any other way for this to have been interpreted.
Dem Vampire Skills - Eric has at his disposal a wide array of skills that allow for some pretty interesting gameplay. Everything from being able to teleport to reposition himself into a more advantageous location to being able to slow down time and see through walls. Granted, I found myself running through the game using the skill that let me force choke enemies from across the level, but that doesn’t mean the ability to make enemies stare dully at a fire extinguisher isn’t useful (it’s not).
Level Design - If DARK has one thing going for it, it has some pretty decent level design. The way the levels are laid out allows players to more or less complete different segments how they want. However, I do have some gripes with certain routes being impassable without going around because some dill hole is staring into the distance and doesn’t have any routes to move to programmed in.
NEVER TAKE A VAMPIRE TANNING
About That A.I. - It’s really bad for a stealth game to have dumb A.I. Something about playing a game that tells you to outsmart something and then proceeds to make the enemies so stupid that half of them do nothing but turn in circles the whole time just doesn’t sit right with me. It’s like being given a three-legged dog and being told to be gentle with it, only to have your parents enter it into a race that very same afternoon. On top of that, the A.I. is inconsistent.
What really cracks me up about the A.I. is that they don’t seem to have a limit to how far they can see. I can walk in front of a guard who’s 4 feet in front of me and he won’t even notice. Meanwhile, Johnny Try-Hard will see me from 50 feet away when I’m hiding in the shadows and behind a wall. On top of that, if you do get caught (and you will) the game spend 3 minutes keeping the guards on high alert while you go hide in a corner. The problem here is that they don’t even look for you, they just spin around the same 2 areas. Because of this, if you do get caught, you’re going to be spending most of the time running back to the beginning of the area, and waiting out their alert.
Pick Up The Gun! - This complaint is more a personal issue than a comment about the game itself. Because of this, it’s not going to affect the score in the slightest. With that being said, there’s something that really aggravates me about a game where the enemy drops a weapon and I can’t pick it up. Yes, I get that I’m a vampire, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how to aim and shoot. Seriously, if six bullets can put me down, I imagine it would only take a half a clip to clear half the rooms it takes me an hour to stealth through.
You Can Sometimes Use That Skill - So get this. You can use skills to help you complete an objective, but only if you have enough energy for it. To get energy, you have to drink blood. This seems fair except for the fact that it is almost impossible to drink blood in the middle of an area without putting a stupid amount of points into a skill that allows you to drink blood without making a sound. It just doesn’t make sense to me that they’d give you a playground of skills, and then only let you use four skills between thirty enemies.
Controls From Hell - If the stealth wasn’t stupid enough, the game’s controls are terrible. Supposedly right-clicking makes you stick to a wall and avoid being seen, but it also has a bad habit of only working half the time. Even then, activating those ever so vital skills you need to complete the mission is tricky business, and if the stars aren’t aligned properly, the skill won’t work. It’s just bad, unintuitive design that feels like it wasn’t properly tested.
Sounds So Bad - Before I even began the review I mentioned that Eric wasn’t capable of inflection when he spoke. I wasn’t kidding. Absolutely nothing that happens throughout the course of DARK seems to surprise Eric enough for his vocal patterns to change in the slightest. He literally goes through the entire game as if it’s just another day at the office. The worst part is, it’s not just him. Almost every character in the game is stuck to one trope and is incapable of doing anything other than following a dull script to the letter. By the end, the dialogue had me so bored that I had my J-Pop playlist going so I could at least pretend the game had some variety.
It’s Not an Action Game - Perhaps the most hilarious bit about this game is that they try to brand it as an action-stealth title. In reality DARK is a stealth title. It rewards you for being stealthy. There is no combat. You either kill someone when they have their back turned to you, or you kill someone right as they’re looking at you (attempting to kill someone on alert loses you the game immediately). It’s not an action game, it’s a stealth title. There are no really cool fighting sequences. You walk around and punch people in the kidneys when they’re not looking. That’s stealth, not action.
DARK is bad for multiple reasons. It’s bad because it tries to be a story driven title with no likable characters. On top of that, it also tries to be an action game with no semblance of any real combat to back up its claims. Even then, it’s bad at the core. At some points you can see where it could have been a really good stealth game if the developers weren’t trying too hard to fit as many genres into it as possible. Unfortunately, what gamers are left with is a lukewarm stealth title that just isn’t fun.
*This review was based on the PC version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*