Platforms: Windows, XBox 360
I’d be lying if I said I never read reviews prior to firing up a game, and certainly if I tried to say they didn’t effect how I looked at the game once I started it. I’m not immune to the hype train, and if I game seems to be universally lauded, my expectations are going to be higher than when I start something like DARK, which seems to attract a lot of gamers’ ire.
Realmforge Studios, in cooperation with Kalypso Media, has put out a handful of games with solid premises that pretty consistently fail to live up to their potential, and DARK is no exception. In theory, a stealth-action game with RPG elements where you get to play as a vampire is fantastic. In practice, the best thing I can say – at least as far as the early game is concerned – is that it’s interesting.
The cel-shaded graphics give the game itself a comic-book sort of feel, which when combined with the dark ambiance of playing as a Vampire: The Masquerade style anti-hero would have done wonders for this game if – and this is a big if – they had carried that style into the cut-scenes. Instead, DARK ends up looking incredibly disjointed and amateurish. The dialogues are clumsy, the tutorial mission is borderline absurd – am I really supposed to be surprised when that bum with a giant handgun turns out to be a mugger?
The UI is minimalistic, and clearly designed with an eye to the console version. Every time I see an action wheel in a PC game, I automatically expect to be frustrated by whatever keyboard and mouse controls that were stapled on as an afterthought. So far, DARK’s seem to work okay, but I’d much rather have an ability bar somewhere if I’m going to be able to use hotkeys. Nitpicking, maybe, but UI options often are the difference between a play and a pass in a game that’s mediocre to start with.
I’ll likely give DARK some more time before I decide whether it’s worth completing for me, or if I’m better off just uninstalling it and tossing it into Probably Not purgatory. If I’m in the mood for vampires, there are better choices, and it’s not like the stealth-action genre is underpopulated either. There’s no wow factor, no innovation, and really, very little likely to hold your interest for very long.