Great ideas but poorly executed.
In DARK you play as Eric who was apparently out partying and got bitten by a vampire, poor guy. When Eric regains his consciousness after the bite he amnesia. All he knows is that he has a pounding headache so he decides to investigate. After 10 minutes of following people and talking to people in the club he’s at, he discovers that he has become a vampire. First he doesn’t believe it, but he is then convinced (which only took about 5 seconds…). Eric is then told that he must drink his creator’s blood or else he’ll become a Ghoul, an animal like vampire that has lost all of its humanity. Also Ghouls look like zombies.
I was looking forward to DARK but I’m sad to say that it didn’t live up to my expectations. Not even the slightest. I have many problems with DARK and I don’t even know where to begin. I guess I’ll start off by saying that I failed to find anything great in DARK, but there were one or two aspects I found slightly interesting in DARK. One of them is the RPG element. It isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d say it’s bearable in DARK. If Bethesda used something like this in their games I’d shoot myself but in a game where basically everything sucks, it really isn’t half that bad. Although some kind of gear upgrades would have enhanced the RPG element drastically.
The story in DARK isn’t bad but it’s far from great. The way it’s told with the short cut scenes where Eric talks to himself makes it a bit more interesting and easy to follow. But the absolutely terrible dialogues and writing at some points just ruins the whole of the story. There is rarely any silence between sentences which makes conversations sound very awkward and a lack of silence also really dampens the punch of the lines. Voice acting wasn’t bad but it didn’t sound like they really tried too hard either. Which as a result made the characters sound more natural, but again, the terrible dialogue just ruins it.
DARK is a full on stealth game but movement is very clunky and sneaking isn’t fun at all. There aren’t many physical attacks you can do. Your fist is in fact your only physical weapon. Crouching, shadow leaping (teleporting short distances), punching and taking cover behind certain objects are your only physical capabilities. Very limited to say the least. Then you have a few psychic powers, some of which are used to kill enemies, but in a game like this you should definitely be able to jump, prone, slide, roll, silently sprint, hide under objects, do flips and go absolutely nuts. However, DARK doesn’t allow you to do that with its one-sided and boring combat system. Realmforge Studios should have made Eric more agile and badass, and the combat more fun.
The AI in DARK is just down right retarded. It’s really next to non-existent. Your enemies either follow a certain path over and over again, stand still or they stand there looking at something for all eternity. They are also pretty much deaf and blind. They can’t spot you through glass or fences that you should clearly be able to spot someone through. Also half of your body can be clearly visible to your enemy, but as long as you stay in cover they won’t spot you. However, the second you let go, they will. The AI is so simple that I can almost see the code right in front of me.
Once you’ve been spotted you could either choose to hide for a few minutes or fight. Hiding is recommended because for whatever reason your character is slow as fuck and you only have your fists to fight with. And some skills that take forever to perform and can only be performed a few times. Hiding very easy, too easy in fact, you just crouch in some corner and wait a minute and poof… it’s like nothing ever happened. Another great example of how fantastic the AI is. They should have done something like was done in Far Cry 3 where if you were heard, the enemies would hunt for you actively after that until they found you or you dispatched them.
The visuals in DARK are not all that bad to be honest. And I do believe anyone who’s played DARK could agree. Texture quality is average. Some textures are better than others. It’s only when you get really up close to the different textures that you realize they aren’t that great. And considering that DARK is in third person then texture quality doesn’t really matter all that much. Something you also realize when you get close to different objects is the 3D modeling. It’s alright, but some stairs for example have very sharp edges. I’m not sure if this was a design choice but it seems sort of like they forgot to finish modeling some objects.
If you’ve played The Walking Dead by Telltale or Borderlands you’ll see that the art style in DARK is very similar. You’ve got the thick black outlining on pretty much everything that gives the game a more cartoony look, which I’m cool with, but I just feel like it’s a bit out-of-place in DARK. In Borderlands this art style really works because of the kind of game it is. Borderlands isn’t serious and doesn’t take itself seriously, but DARK does. That’s why this art style doesn’t really work.
The animations in DARK are either awkward, stiff, terrible or non-existent. Your character seems to have every animation but the turning animation when you are standing up. When you turn while crouching everything is fine but for some weird reason they decided to leave out the turning animation when the character is standing up. Maybe this will be fixed later but why would they leave it out in the first place? The enemies’ animations are very stiff but I have seen worse.
Well, what about sound design? The sound design in DARK is only decent. The music and sound fx sound okay. I can’t say I hated the sound design but it wasn’t anything extraordinary. It was very basic and a bit more sound fx wouldn’t have hurt. One big problem I had with the sound design in DARK was that it does a poor job at indicating from what direction a particular sound is coming from. I often found myself confused when I heard someone say something and it sounded like it came from behind when the source was actually in front of me.
It seems as though this game was in the middle of its beta or late alpha stage when Kalypso insisted it would be released. I don’t know if all this is the developer’s (which I doubt) or if it’s the lack of funding from Kalypso. Either way it’s very sad that this game turned out this bad. DARK really had some great ideas but Realmforge Studios didn’t have the time or money or just couldn’t execute the ideas properly.
As for replay value there is a challenge mode in DARK. BUT I couldn’t complete a single one because I keep failing and I can’t bring myself to retry a thousand times since I don’t enjoy the game. Again, great idea, maybe not the most original, but the bad gameplay keeps it from being enjoyable.
DARK is honestly nothing but a huge disappointment. It’s a game with tons of game breaking flaws that I believe could have been avoided if the developer, Realmforge Studios, just had a few more months to polish this game. DARK has great ideas but they aren’t well executed at all. The game has a few okay aspects and does become a bit more fun later on but that, unfortunately, doesn’t make DARK worth the asking price (45€). This is very sad because I know many people, including me, were looking forward to DARK. Could I recommend DARK to anyone? No, I honestly couldn’t.