The Darkness II Review
The Darkness II is not the revelation its predecessor was, but ripping up occultists with your demon arms is a blast anyway.
- Demonic arms + solid gunplay = fun times
- Unusual, creepy story that's more than just cheap shocks
- Skill tree gives the action some diversity
- Excellent voice acting and sound effects.
- Incredibly short campaign
- Linear levels and second-rate AI make for predictable encounters
- Run-of-the-mill co-op missions lack challenge.
The Darkness II is a shooter.
OK, so that seems a pretty odd statement to make: Of course The Darkness II is a shooter! But in this sequel's case, it's an important point to consider. The Darkness (the original game on consoles) had the feel of an adventure. Sure, you shot guns, but the action, the story, and the peripheral details merged to make a single, creative whole that didn't really resemble other first-person shooters. The Darkness II is a lot of fun, but it doesn't have that spark of uniqueness. Levels are remarkably linear, and the game is remarkably short. Skilled marksmen should finish the campaign in less than five hours.
So The Darkness II isn't special, but it has one particular element that keeps it exciting: the two creepy demonic arms that sprout from your body, each with its own gnashing mouth, and each with an insatiable appetite for human hearts. The right arm is for smashing; you can whip it around with abandon, using the right stick to slash vertically or horizontally, bashing enemies, street lamps, and electrical wires. The left arm is for grabbing; you can grab car doors to use as shields and fling them at mobsters like murderous Frisbees. You can throw metal poles at your foes and impale them as if preparing a human-sized shish kebob. You can also reel in a staggered enemy, grab each leg, and tear him in half like a wishbone. A wishbone that screams.
If that sounds gross, well, it is, in a wonderful way. Take the anaconda move. With this particular left-arm maneuver, you roll your foe up like a pig in a blanket and thrust the demonic head through his chest. The demon then growls in satisfaction before unrolling and allowing the limp body to drop to the ground. As you move toward The Darkness II's conclusion, you see this move and other similarly disgusting ones rather often, and they remain shocking for a little while. The sound effects are fantastically squishy; you can practically hear the cartilage tear and the vital organs rupture. To replenish health, you hold a button and your arms feed on nearby human hearts, snatching them up with a thwack and noisily chomping on them.
The game's upgrade system might have you unlocking new animations, but even then, the gross-out factor can wear thin. This is in part because you can string together the same basic moves in succession, over and over, without feeling challenged, particularly on the PC. You're invulnerable during these kills, which is just as well because it would be pretty frustrating to get shot to death while waiting for your demon arms to finish some horrific dismemberment. In time, The Darkness II tries to amp up the challenge, throwing enemies at you with tough shields and introducing combatants that shine spotlights on you. All that light causes your demon arms to regress while filling your screen with so much blinding whiteness that you can barely see what's going on. But generally speaking, you can charge forward, shooting, flinging, and grabbing without worrying often about dying. As long as you shoot out any errant light sources, you won't feel much pressure on anything but the hardest difficulty.
The Darkness II does its best to provide variety. Depending on how you upgrade as you progress, you might unleash a swarm of insects at your enemies, which makes them vulnerable to a nauseating fatality. Or you might summon a mini black hole, which sucks in any nearby enemies into its swirling vortex. There's also your darkling, a miniature gremlin that calls you "monkey" and skitters around, leaping on bad guys and urinating on helpless corpses. Well, with the right upgrade, you can pick up your darkling and throw it on anyone that gives you trouble. Combining these moves with standard pistols and rifles can be absolutely riotous, with arms flying everywhere and enemies screaming in agony as you tear them in half.
Nevertheless, the demon arm mechanic is expected to bear most of the burden, and central aspects of the game's action are mundane. The shooting is better than that of the first game, but then again, the original was paced and built very differently. The Darkness II typically funnels you down paths like any random shooter. Levels occasionally open up a bit, but this sequel is as linear as games come, sending out unintelligent enemies in predictable patterns. Heck, even the levels themselves are right out of the book of shooter and horror game cliches: a subway, a warehouse, a creepy carnival, and the like. If The Darkness was an ambient action adventure, then The Darkness II is an arcade shooter. If you have any doubt about that, consider this: When you kill enemies, a pop-up appears, announcing the name of the move, along with the amount of dark essence (that is, experience) you earned. It's done sort of like Bulletstorm's skill shot system.
You should turn off those notifications at the first opportunity if you want to get the most out of The Darkness II. (Be sure to also turn off the annoying tutorial reminders that frequently appear, reminding you how to play the game even when you've almost finished it.) That's because there's an effective story here worth paying attention to, but the pop-ups only serve to take you out of the experience and remind you that you're just playing a game. Once again, you play as Jackie Estacado, who is now the leader of the Franchetti crime family. The story gets off to an explosive start, with an intense on-rails restaurant shoot-out that ultimately leads to the eye-opening emergence of The Darkness; that is, the hellish presence that grants Jackie his incredible powers.
Game is easily worth it for $12.50 if you get it from the Steam Halloween sale. It's one of those few shooters I play because I'm into the story. Demon occult-ness + mafia guns + parasitic relationships is all good fun.
This game is short but sweet. Everything works in this ride: the story, the atmosphere, and the gameplay really let's you feel like a badass demon. Plus, in steam they slayed the price of the game in weeks! it's only 37 dollars... and I struck a 2k deal to purchase it for 28. Be sure of this: better deals are coming. If you're not going to shell 38 dollars for this masterpiece at least put it in the Steam wishlist and wait for a deal. You won't regret it. Digital Extremes sure knows about gameplay design (since Dark Sector).
Short yes, but one great game it is... Got way more to it in its 5h than all those latest soulless warfare shooters combined. The story is simple, but the honesty of the characters makes you care about them. I was rooting for Estacado by the end! I'm definitely going to get the next one.
"Excellent voice acting and sound effects." & a gr8 Lone Ranger joke (towards the beginning), lmao. What looked like a Charlie Sheen inspired poster in the subway, with fire-breathing hands (too funny for me also, but I love the guy). Hopefully it won't turn out as short as I think it will. :)
I'm tired of developers thinking it's okay for games to be short nowadays. Yes, they look nice and all, but what's the point of it if it's only going to be played for a few hours..
@parrot_of_adun More like you can't keep them going with any sense of the true complexities of our reality.It's fine, don't worry about it.
well, i don't why you people (most of you at least) give this game 7.0 score...the game is way too better than this, so it's short, witch game is not, i enjoyed it, like most of you...only bad thing about this game in my opinion is that is short, so as codmw, codmw2, codmw3, battlefield 3, pop the forgotten sands, blood rayne, blood rayne 2, god of war, god of war 2, devil may cry 1, 2, 3, 4, doom 3, ressurection of evil and so on, and so on...i don't have x-box and i didn't see The Darkness...but this is pretty awsome game...and i'd pay 60$, but only if the game is like i have it now, no dvd needed to play, full gore, vendettas online working...then it's worth it...
I loved Darkness I and it seemed to be a decent amount of time. However my only thing is 5 hrs of main game for the Darkness II is not worth $60. I personally believe that you can do quality and quantity together and a short game to me is unacceptable if they are asking for full price. Now $20 maybe but not $60.
@BloodMist taste... *sigh* I guess I can leave it at that, but not because it makes any sense, more that it seems arguments on Gamespot never work.
@parrot_of_adun Well hehe, the simple fact is there is a massive lack of proper taste in a large chunk of the modern human population, much like there's a gigantic lack of proper comprehension skills.They would be the ones that allow crap like day one DLC to even exist.Let's just leave it at that, shall we?
Another SP campaign of 5-6 hours..go figure?! I think I'll run out and spend $60 + tax for this mediocre offering.
@BloodMist Wow, no need for the antagonism, geez. So you're saying that you have the rather uncommon opinion that this game is amazing (despite being rather generic where it doesn't directly copy it's predecessor)? Okay, that's irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that Gamespot disagrees with you, not that they shun creativity or something. There is no truth to things like this, people are going to disagree with you sometimes. They're allowed that, you know.
@parrot_of_adun The game is a hell of a lot better than "good", but thanks for your useless response.A unique FPS that's loaded with style and character in a time where pretty much every FPS that comes out is a shallow, hollow, lifeless military themed shooter on rails deserves a better score than that, all there is to it.
i think the popups destroy my experience in ALL GAMES. Arrow pointers, markers. .All ruin the experience, in every game. im not paying $89US for this $10-$20 MAX.
PLs Kevin . Could you please ALWAY write something about version differences? for example how much consolitis do i have to suffer if i buy this? laggy controls, crappy port, no graphics options, just poor console graphics without anything added for the PCs as is common etc etc. I just finished Battlefield 3 on ULTRA on my new computer without 1 frame rate drop so i think i will judge now pc versions quality from the BF3 on ULTRA point of view. Actaully it was a prety lame shooter. got it just for the singleplayer to see how my new rig performs on this gfx quality level.
Linear campaign? Now that's a shame...part of why I loved the first game was the sidequests and collecting phone numbers to unlock stuff (which were awesome things like digital comics). I'm still kind of bummed Steam doesn't have the original for sale.