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Review

DARK Review

  • Game release: July 3, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

Like the guards you must sneak past in this vampire stealth game, it's best to avoid Dark entirely.

Can you imagine how deliciously powerful it would feel to be a vampire? Sustaining yourself on the blood of your victims, you could turn to mist and rush through the air, preying on the weak and hunting down the forces that would see the end of you and your kind. Dark hints at such an existence, but this vampire stealth game fails to make such bloodsucking dreams and nightmares come to life. Rather than pull you into the supernatural drama it tries to author, Dark devolves into unintentional comedy, the ridiculously bad dialogue and hilarious artificial intelligence inspiring fits of laughter. This game is both insane and inane, but at least its overall stupidity gives you something to cackle at.

The laughs start with the story, which casts you as Eric Bane, a half-vampire looking to suck the blood out of more powerful vampires before you turn into a mindless ghoul. You spend a lot of time in a nightclub called Sanctuary, where you might at first enjoy the colorful cel-shaded visuals and awkwardly dancing patrons before you start giggling at the bad dialogue. Says a vampire DJ about another powerful bloodsucker: "The women that work there for him are really f***ed up. I think he put some vampire s*** on them." Says another: "The guy more or less owns the city. He's like the vampire dictator, man." A Mass Effect-like dialogue wheel offers dialogue options, but not any actual choices, though you can string together different parts of conversation in ways that make the insipid dialogue even more nonsensical.

So off you go into the night to exercise your sneaking skills and do vampiric things, like knocking out dunderheaded rent-a-cops from behind when you aren't plunging your teeth into their necks. It's clear right away that something's amiss in Dark, however. Guards engage in conversation before beginning their patrol patterns, which is a typical atmospheric touch in stealth games, but some chats go on forever without unveiling any important truths or infusing Dark with any personality. When alerted, guards deliver canned lines that don't always make sense in context, the same snippets of recorded dialogue overlapping with each other and lone enemies calling out to nonexistent comrades. Bad animations, mediocre voice acting, jittery cutscenes, and disappearing sound effects round out the first impressions, though some nice audiovisual touches, such as the satisfying whoosh of your shadow leap ability, give you hope for the coming hours.

Unfortunately, Dark never capitalizes on its few strengths. The basic gameplay is bone-dry stealth--you crouch and hug walls, at least when the cover mechanic decides to work, while trying to avoid the none-too-watchful eyes of guards and attacking them when you need to. You may also drag corpses away if you have the opportunity, and need to avoid litter lest you call attention to yourself, though it isn't always clear whether or not nearby watchmen notice or care. There are a few visual references to Thief in the early levels, but you never need to keep to the shadows, in spite of the allusions (and in spite of this game's own name).

The repetitive catcalls and music in this weird strip club will probably have you turning down the audio.

You also have some passive and active vampire powers that let you, for example, confuse enemies in the area for a short period of time, or rush across a good distance and assassinate a guard. You need to kill guards and read scattered personal digital assistants and emails to earn points to unlock and improve these abilities, and you drain blood from your enemies to power them. At first it's fun to fool around with these skills, since they're the only way of mixing up the generic sneaking. Flying through the air and felling the cookie-cutter character models can give you a sense of accomplishment, as can successfully sneaking through a heavily defended warehouse without alarming the sentries. But about halfway through the game, you realize that you can use your shadow leap ability to exploit your way through levels, propelling yourself onto ledges and other platforms and avoiding or eliminating entire swaths of patrols in the process.

The rotten enemy AI doesn't always hinder you; in fact, it often seems intent on assisting your efforts. For instance, you might hide in a bush, one guard after another approaching you, perhaps after seeing you lurk in the area. You can knock them out one at a time, the guards acting as if they can't figure out where that corpse came from, even after staring right at you as you performed the kill. To make matters worse, Dark draws out levels during such circumstances, spawning new guards when the AI is alerted until the supply runs out, which makes levels tedious. You even see some of these guards appear right in front of you out of nowhere, which completely corrupts the core design of a stealth game.

Elsewhere, enemies jitter in place or against each other before teleporting somewhere else--again undermining the very idea of a stealth game. Sometimes, guards get stuck standing and looking in one spot in a way that keeps you from reaching your destination. And what's really hysterical is when guards shoot at you so that you can see bullets landing on you, yet the shots don't register. The lack of continuity between checkpoints also annihilates Dark's design consistency. In certain locations, triggering a checkpoint causes all the enemies in the area you just left to disappear, only to have new enemies and characters materialize there without any explanation.

Truer words were never spoken.

There are some good ideas in here, like machines that produce a field of UV rays that injure you and dull your vampire powers. And every so often, a level comes together, with enemy routines created in a way that allows you to satisfyingly slink by. But those bright spots are exceptions in Dark's poorly crafted areas. Some levels at first look open-ended, inviting you to experiment with different approaches, but actually push you down a single linear path, because it's the only path the AI and its rigid patterns can reasonably handle. Other levels feature a mishmash of enemies, alarms, and behaviors that seem thoughtlessly put together, inspiring you to exploit your way through rather than devise a clever plan of action.

Instead of ramping up the challenge and excitement, Dark actually gets much easier as it progresses, and the final boss fight (which involves walking around as its main mechanic) and subsequent moral choice (in which you have no emotional investment) aren't gut punches, but rather are gut-bustingly bad. In its favor, Dark mixes up its pace in the final levels, dropping some narrative surprises on you and depositing you into a few unexpected locales. But by then, you've endured too much banality for a few bewildering plot twists to suck any interest out of you, or for the stand-alone challenge levels to hold any appeal. In the dark is where this clumsy vampire game should remain.

The Good
Levels sometimes allow a satisfying blend of sneaking and neck-biting
The Bad
Jaw-droppingly awful AI
Gameplay exploits diminish the need to use vampire powers
Hilariously bad dialogue
A number of clumsy, distracting audiovisual problems
3.5
Bad
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Discussion

366 comments
advocacy
advocacy

Instead of this, we should be getting Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2!

DeadMemoie
DeadMemoie

Well , played it and over come it , not bad for a game for year 2000 , but for 2013!! ;) super bad! good for fooling around if you have nothing to play but then you'll get easily tired Bcuz of shortages in the game , mainly... , well lets get to the point its rubbish , spent your money on pizzas and burgers you'll be more satisfied than buying this game! ;) :) :D  2/10 - Super Rubbish

T-Team
T-Team

I am so sad cause I have already bought this game.  all my money gone wasted

hitomo
hitomo

this is from gernam puplsher Kalypso and one of its owned studies, the one that also made Dungeons, a bad Keeper clone ... this Company is only making the badest games around ^^ I am so pumped already for demonicon

drgribb
drgribb

Shucks, was hoping this would finally be as good as a sequel to Vampire Bloodlines. :(  So tired of waiting for another good vampire game to come out :(

Mike Gammell
Mike Gammell

As long as the vampires aren't sparkly, it'll be better than Twilight

David Lee Mirenic
David Lee Mirenic

Gus I grew up back in the day of Tomb of Dracula, Christopher Lee and Morbius The Living Vampire and any one of them would make the sparkly vamps in Twilight thier bitch.

Warsilver
Warsilver

We need some end-of-year dubious honors, lol

John Jarocki
John Jarocki

I bought it but haven't played past the tutorial yet. Should I even bother>

Genie Lynch
Genie Lynch

That's a shame, I was kinda looking forward to this game. Guess I won't be buying it then

Godlikan
Godlikan

Good old Redemption and Bloodlines... Why no one make some games like that anymore...

Craig Mallinson
Craig Mallinson

Even a kick in the nuts is better than seeing Twlilght.

Thomas Harrison
Thomas Harrison

Did it really make vampires look bad? The majority of the vampires in Twilight are incredibly ruthless and blood thirsty. They are also incredibly OP considering they are almost indestructible.

youngzen69
youngzen69

Great review! I am totally getting this : )

PouyaDH
PouyaDH

from ''Blade'' to ''Twilight" and now from ''Blood Omen'' & ''Blood Rayne'' to this. perfect. I only blame  teens that have a stomach for B.S. :-?

rynn21
rynn21

At least it's a game I can laugh at. I can't even laugh at Twilight anymore. lol

leikeylosh
leikeylosh

By the way, the game has an absurd plot hole in the ending, it's not even funny.


leikeylosh
leikeylosh

What the hell, Gamespot?? You put Tom McShea to review a great game like The Last of Us and Kevin Van Ord, which is the best reviewer on this site, to review this piece of crap??

Rytis Bilys
Rytis Bilys

Yeah sure the game isnt that good. But dont compare it to twilight. These devs still worked hard on the game, bit rude to make fun of it.

LeBlancChien
LeBlancChien

wow, i haven't seen so many bellow-five-scored-game at so little time!

i mean, like 8 or so in a whole month..

David Shipp
David Shipp

Ok game. But shouldn't have been like a cartoon.

Aaron E. Garza
Aaron E. Garza

The game had a good idea... But it got bad after half of the first level. It became way to easy and well... The "RPG" elements were awfully placed there... Still it had something going for an extremely bit.

Fursnake
Fursnake

Now, now...I don't think this game makes vampires look bad in quite the same way that Twilight makes vampires look bad.

Amaya Ai
Amaya Ai

Could've been better but I was left disappointed with this.

Mithun Mohan Nair
Mithun Mohan Nair

Still a better love story than Twilight. .... ....... .......... No?

e5115271
e5115271

The review pretty much sums it up, which is a shame as I was hoping for something to rival VtMB. The main thing that bugged me about this game was how the enemies were placed purely to make things awkward - having a load of guards all focused around one choke point is not fun or challenging, just frustrating. Played for an hour, uninstalled.

adrian07ch
adrian07ch

@T-Team There's a thing called torrent download and there's a website called the pirate bay. You can downolad and play anything before throwing your money away.

simonbelmont2
simonbelmont2

@David Lee Mirenic Yeah, Morbius, Dracula, Count Orlok and Mr Barlow are better vampires than the twilight dudes.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@John Jarocki Do it for the lolz. Then you can proudly tell your friends how laughably bad it is.

SebaTheButcher
SebaTheButcher

@leikeylosh You are right, but i have to say that i really enjoy Kevin reviewing crappy games. Even when i read a bad review now it has Kevin's voice in my mind.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@David Shipp It would have been worse without its graphics.

simonbelmont2
simonbelmont2

@Fursnake Yeah, the protagonist here looks a bit generic but he's not as bland as the twilight vampires.

simonbelmont2
simonbelmont2

@e5115271 I hate it when stealth games do that with the guards.


The idea of a stealth game where you use vampire skills has a lot of potential, it's a shame the game looks kind of shabby though.

Malice_Shadows
Malice_Shadows

if you want good stealth game you just have wait for the new thief game

DARK More Info

  • Released
    • PC
    • Xbox 360
    Dark is a stealth action game with role-playing elements that lets you slip into the role of the ultimate killer...a vampire.
    4.5
    Average User RatingOut of 180 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate DARK
    Developed by:
    Kalypso
    Published by:
    Kalypso
    Genres:
    Open-World, Adventure, Action, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence