Before we get started on this review, I’d like to see a show of hands, gamers — who here would love nothing more than to assume the role of the ultimate nocturnal assassin -the vampire? Then you’re in luck, because that’s exactly what you get to do here in Dark, by Realmforge Studios and Kalypso Media.
Dark is a stealth-action RPG-ish thriller of a tale, that puts you in the role of Eric Bane – who just so happens to find himself waking up in this nightclub called “The Sanctuary”, and starts realizing that he has been turned into a vampire. The task that’s now at hand is to go find out who’s turned you into a vampire and why. But be forewarned that this isn’t a beat-em-up type of game — the shadows are your allies and your main weapons are your brute strength and good set of blood-draining chompers.
The story in Dark is definitely an intricate, engrossing one that easily sucks your time away while you’re busy sucking life away from unsuspecting enemies. What makes this story so interesting and fun is that you’re immediately put in the midst of blood and darkness, wondering what the hell happened to you, and at any given second you can quickly go from being the hunter to being the hunted. And while you roam the darkness, you get to improve your character skills as you carefully eliminate your enemies as effectively as possible.
This is where the RPG elements kick in: as you take down the opposition, you earn experience points (and even bonus XP if you remain undetected) by just killing them or having feeding time on their jugular veins. The earned XP nets you new abilities and skills that you get to upgrade on a skill tree. And don’t drop your cautious guard just yet once you’ve downed an enemy, because if you don’t drag off corpses to a safer location, then more attention will be brought to you, which is what you don’t want.
As you progress further into the story, there are some important characters worth mentioning. Rosemary “Rose” Wood runs “The Sanctuary” nightclub. She provides Eric with much useful info, stays in constant contact with him via radio, and even assists him some with her impressive hacker skills. The Kruger twins — April and June — also work at “The Sanctuary”; April is a sexy bartender who’s somewhat of a newbie vampire and June is the club’s DJ. And Tom Barner is the head of security at “The Sanctuary”. He too provides Eric with plenty of useful info.
The graphics in Dark are very well done with plenty of lavish environments to explore, ranging from the nightclub where you start the game, to the city museum, to even a vampire lord’s hidden fortress. The cinema cutscenes are plentiful too and have that cel-shaded look to them. The sounds are excellent here as well, even more so if you have surround sound or headphones on. Strangely enough, there’s a little bit of humor to be had. For example: if you happen to catch the security guards’ attention at the museum but you manage to stay hidden, they’ll come looking for you and say comments like, “Come out, come out wherever you are!” and “It’s time for us to flush out the bat!”
The controls are easy to understand in Dark, and are even easier as you get to really put them to good practical use during the game’s tutorial shortly after the start of the game. Each button on the controller still has its own purpose — whether it be corpse dragging or activating vampire vision or shadow leaping or somewhere in between — but is simple enough to master.
I didn’t find much fault at all with this game, and the two issues that I did find are very minor at best. One, the cutscenes could’ve been just a little more polished, in the sense that the characters looked more polygon-ish at times. And two, the character lip movements didn’t coincide with the spoken dialogue. But again, these are minimal issues that can bevery easily overlooked.
All in all, this reviewer was very pleased with Dark, especially with how well I was getting the hang of being a sneaky bloodthirsty assassin, as opposed to my usual “bag ‘em and tag ‘em” style. It certainly earned the “M” rating for a reason too, as there’s a good bit of the colorful language and some partial bare skin, but still nothing over the top. Here’s something you also don’t see every day in an instruction manual: alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink recipes for a Bloody Mary – “The Sanctuary” style.
Now if you folks will excuse me, I’m feeling a little thirsty.
Platform: XBox 360
Developer: Realmforge Studios
Publisher: Kalypso Media
ESRB: M (Mature)
Price: $49.99 MSRP
|Dark, yet beautiful with cutscenes a-plenty. Nice touch with the cel-shading look also.|
|Nothing overbearing, and suitable for whatever environment you're in. Good job.|
|Very fun with an appealing story.|
|A very solid title and an excellent intro to the stealth-action genre.|