Release Date: July 9th, 2013
Developer: Realmforge Studios
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Platform: [Reviewed: PC], Xbox 360
Rated: M for Mature
Throughout the centuries vampires were known as masters of the night, creatures of super-human capabilities that prey on us mortals to survive and despise the light of day. As of late, today’s media portrays vampires in many aspects, or in Twilight’s case, in the sunlight.
This atrocity that has befallen the once great reputation of the vampire race has left them as nothing more than sunbathing, sparkling pansies or over brooding narcissists. Dark’s take on vampires doesn’t help against the argument that if real vampires really did walk amongst us that they all must be annihilated – without prejudice.
Eric Bane wakes up suddenly inside a gothic nightclub called Sanctuary, unbeknownst as to how or why he is there. After wandering around aimlessly and talking to some of the staff he discovers that he’s a vampire and what a surprise, Sanctuary is a cleverly named den for newly turned vampires.
Rose, the owner and self-appointed den-mother of Sanctuary, informs Bane that his amnesia is caused by the unfortunate side effects of being newly turned. But more grave news arises as Rose discloses that if he does not drink the blood of the vampire who bit him he will slowly lose his “humanity” and turn in to a feral vampire, a Ghoul. And of course the real pickle here is that since he lost his memory he can’t even remember who turned him.
However if Bane can get his fangs into the neck of “an ancient and powerful vampire”, that can possibly save him from being a more deadly and intimidating Ghoul. Finally starting the game it turns out to be a huge game of hide and seek where you hide for hours, silently taking out foes, until you come across the end-level boss.
Rose said that vampires do all they can to remain hidden from humans, but they do a piss poor job of it. You can certainly get behind cover to stay out of sight, but almost every move Bane makes alerts all nearby walking blood banks.
Stomping around while running, Bane’s Shadow Leap that allows him to teleport small distances and even a vampire’s need to feed causes so much noise that the only true way to pass unnoticed is to crouch the entire time, which makes each level unnecessarily longer and mundane. You can also eliminate those who get in your way by left-clicking to take them out quietly.
Even as a rookie, being a vampire grants Bane pretty neat powers and increased strength so what does he have to worry about sneaking all the time? Well mostly any dope carrying a gun. If you take enough bullets you’ll go down like any poor sap with a barrage of lead in his chest.
Players might think that being discovered gives them a green light to show what a vampire is truly capable of; unfortunately you don’t have any real attacks besides getting up close and decking someone in the face with your fist. By that time you will just end up dead at their feet and is advised to simply run away like the terror of the night you are.
Enemies enter an excruciatingly long Hostile state when you have successfully hidden from them. This seemingly small 90 seconds time frame gives them enough time to locate you again and put you out of your misery. But one of the games many flaws pop up in the form of the enemies’ AI that will cause players frustration and an easy pass through the game all at the same time.
One moment you alert some guard, he’s heading in your direction, and then he does a180° and opens fire at nothing, just asking you to end his stupidity. And there are even instances where foes will show up during scripted moments between you communicating with Rose and politely wait before blasting you away.
There are RPG elements in Dark that allow you to become increasingly stronger as you gain more powers to wield. When completing and objective or killing foes you gain experience points. You can earn even more XP when you stealthily take out enemies undetected.
Accumulate enough points and you gain a level and a skill point to put towards an ability or upgrade. You can make Bane quieter in his vampiric dealings like teleporting and feeding, you can also gain new powers that add to his limited repertoire. But his powers has limits as it is dependent on his Vitae meters which can be replenished my drinking blood or back at Sanctuary. There is also a short cooldown timer when using powers, limiting how often they can be used.
Realmforge must really like purple because it is the most frequently seen color in the game. Sanctuary is covered from top to bottom in all sorts of purple and other off-putting gothic colors. This gives Dark an unappealing tone, and with a vampire theme on top of that, a tiring one that I’m sure we’ve all seen a thousand times before.
Dark’s art style is a comic book cell-shaded look that actually looks pretty decent, but with a gloomy color pallet covered in shadows there isn’t all that much to admire. But the worst assault on the eyes is when using Bane’s enhanced vampire senses; the whole world turns purple while enemies in you field of view are red.
The audio is also a headache. The slow mellow gothic tunes inside Sanctuary is the only thing that can be considered music, and even calling that music is being use in the loosest term (I just don’t like Goth music). When on missions they play a generic “sneaking around, doin’ stuff” tune that will enter one ear and out the other. But by far the most unforgiveable sin that this game has committed is the horrid voice acting.
In the first minutes of the game players will come across the head of security in Sanctuary, a character so annoyingly douchey and poorly written that he singlehandedly murders the English language. Spouting nothing but “dude” and “man” every other sentence it’ll get unbelievably annoying within seconds of him opening his stiffly animated and robotic face.
Talking about stiff and robotic, all characters suffer from this. You can see it as plain as day that when someone starts to talk that none of them emote at all, the only thing moving is their mouths. But since they neglected to animate any life into the character I’d at least expect them to put some effort to sync the dialog with the lips, but they don’t even accomplish that. Horrendous dialog from every single character and awkward movements/facial expression will make players want to skip every scene.
I have never had to bash a game so bad. I feel terrible, but this game needs to be avoided like how a vampire avoids sunlight and all things holy. Eric Bane is as pathetic of a vampire as you can get, being limited by his own powers and unable to even climb obstacles just slightly taller than he is.
Whatever good that this game may have is buried 6 feet underneath an overwhelming list of flaws and loopholes. Again, the vampires wish to remain secret yet there is a woman in Sanctuary who is fully aware of them. But it’s all cool she’s “into them”! And they say if you kill someone by drinking their blood that they awaken as a vampire. So along my journey I just brought a terrible fate upon several dozen people that our “protagonist” is undergoing. I’d think he’d be more sympathetic, but I guess he figured that he needed to be less pathetic somehow.
Replay Ability: 1/5
Overall Rating: 1.5/5