Written by Seon (Justin Lattimore)
Vampires. Everyone has their take on what they should be and the story that should be told because of it. At times, some dive into the struggle that is losing your humanity piece by piece while at the same time gaining powers of lore that can bend the night, control human willpower and bring a new taste of blood to just what “feeding” means. Others open a window into the world of vampire society, examining the bond, or lack there of, between the newly made outcasts, the elders old and those who want to expose that culture to the unknowing world. Dark is no exception. With it’s own unique story and rarely seen mix of action stealth gameplay in this day and age, it is a game with a few faults who’s saving graces more than make the ride worth it.
You are Alex Bane. After stumbling around all night doing something he can’t quite seem to remember, the bright glow of echoing neon lights start to dull and scenery of a nightclub sets in. Asking around the club, eventually finding the way to the owner of ‘The Sanctuary’ who just can’t wait to inform that there is newly a half vampire to be added to the family. In the face of disbelief she pulls a gun and aims for the newcomer’s heart only to have vampire instincts kick in and teleport Alex clear across the room, leaving that bullet hole to rest in the wall formerly behind him instead. First power of the game revealed. A few more minutes of conversing with the She-vamp, it becomes known that half vampires become soulless, violent husks within a few days if they don’t drink either the blood of their master or high ranking vampire. Armed with a new taste for blood that nearly outweighs Alex’s need for it, the hunt begins.
As an action stealth game, one side of that spectrum is delivered in full part at any given time. Missions are straight forward. Get from here to there by any means necessary, preferably without getting caught. If you make it through without raising an alarm, you get a large bonus in XP on top of what you get for taking out targets on the way from point A to B. What isn’t straightforward is how to go about it. Past the tutorial level, every other set piece provides a challenge and a new set of rules that must be taken into account before you think about tactically executing the guards that stand in your way. Starting from thugs, you work your way up to trained soldiers, followed by the overly capable vampire hunters. But, since you are hunting vampires, humans aren’t the only things you’re face in quest to sate blood-lust. Cameras, UV lights that hinder vampire powers, ghouls, other vampires, innocent bystanders and more will stand in the way.
Luckily. You’ve got powers. And a lot of them. The most important one being Shadow Leap. Covering large distances quickly and near quietly is what this game hinges upon. Mess it up? Once? Bullets, Claws, Spikes, Acid, Grenades and teeth will all be tearing through you in an instant. There are more powers to help give you an edge though. Shadow Kill, which is one part Shadow Leap and one part Kill. Distraction, which will give you the ability to pull units from their pattern so you can hopefully take care of them out of earshot of their comrades. Shadow Grasp, which looks, acts and feels about as badass as Force Choke a la Star Wars. Domination, which makes it so the target perceive nothing, be it you, a dead body, or you sucking the blood of their best friend in front of them. Along with the more natural upgrades to Health, Speed, Feasting Time mix’d with how strong these powers and more will become by gaining more XP and investing accordingly, picking the right powers for the job is, thankfully, crucial.
Dark does what it sets out to do. Creating an action stealth game that is challenging, fun and rewarding. Spotting voice acting accenting the do or die fast pace of the missions, Powers that are a thrill to use and see in effect, the feeling of accomplishment when you make it through a level without getting discovered and new challenges and obstacles that test your tactical approach around every corner. Dark offers a refreshing journey into the action stealth genre that really scratches that hard to reach itch in gaming culture today.