Heart of Darkness is an interestingly frustrating experience that fans of Cinematic Platforming shouldn't miss.
The game was in development for six years, and those years were spent on the music, art, and graphics. There was so much content that it had to be put on two discs, even though the game is really short.
In Heart of Darkness you play as a little boy named Andy who, along with his dog Whiskey, gets sucked into a different world. When Andy comes to he finds out that Whiskey has been kidnapped by the Master of the world and he sets out to save him. Along the way, Andy meets a strange tribe of winged creatures who help him against the Master. Some pretty basic stuff, but it gets the job done.
To play the game is a whole different story. You move Andy through the world with the directional buttons, jumping with X, running with square, shooting with O, and using a special, charged up attack with triangle. Everything works for the most part, except for one thing.
That one thing may be little in number but it's quality over quantity. The thing is, you have to wait until Andy is finished with an animation before you can do anything, in a game all about timing this means the world. An example, if you need to jump to dodge something but you were crouching, you need to wait for Andy to stand up before he can jump. It makes the game frustrating, and it doesn't help that you are good and dead after just one hit.
The enemies in the game also don't help in making the game any less frustrating. Some will actually follow you onto another screen. The enemies consist of strange shadow monsters, worms in the wall, man-eating plants, armored shadows, and flesh-eating insects.
The shadow monsters come in four forms and are the common enemies. One form will grab you, in which case you have to rock the D-pad in a very specific manner to escape, or will surround you and eat you. The second form will just rush you and are tougher, the third form is a slinky type, they can crawl on ceilings and you have to duck to kill it, The forth is a shadow on a background or foreground object but these are used mostly at the beginning of the game.
The other enemies are more simple and most don't move past certain areas, but this mess of enemies all kill you with one hit as mentioned before. Most of the frustration in the game is based on it's puzzles. Most enemies, except for the shadows, are passed with puzzles. All of these puzzles are trial and error which isn't that fun, though it does feel good to finally pass a tough one. This is one of the most frustrating games I have ever played, outside of the fighting genre, so your playtime will depend on your puzzle-solving, but it can be completed in about an hour.
On the sound side of the game, it took six years to make and it does it's job. The monsters sound nice, but evil, and the music is good but you'll be sick of hearing Andy die by the end. The voice acting for the cutscenes isn't bad but it isn't great, it's a little goofy though that could've been what they were aiming for.
The look of the game, on the other hand is amazing. The background and foreground is another factor to the six year development time and they even play a part of the gameplay. The animations are nice and so is the overall look of the sprites. One thing to note is the death animations. Andy dies is some disturbing ways, yet the game has an E rating, this I will never understand.
So overall, if you want an interesting Cinematic Platformer that you'll never forget, Heart of Darkness is it. Just remember to be patient!