Tentacles and naughty imps!
ESRB Rating: M (Mature) Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Drug Reference, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Starbreeze Studios
Video: HDTV 480i/ 480p / 720p / 1080i
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Official Darkness Website
The Darkness at Xbox.com
Release Date: 25th July 2006
Coming straight from the success of The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, Swedish developers Starbreeze Studios have released The Darkness. Given that the former was a fantastic title; could Starbreeze once again demonstrate their skills in another, more darker title?
Everyone is afraid of the dark, children and even adults. However our fear from the darkness is mostly because we don’t know what the darkness contains, it’s always a mystery. That same logic can be applied to this title too, as this is one title that hasn’t been hyped up at all. In my books that’s a good thing.
Almost every child and even many adults claim to be afraid of the dark. While this is understandable, it is not actually the darkness that people fear but what the darkness contains. The same logic can be applied to The Darkness for the Xbox 360 and PS3. I have to right away admit that the few trailers and screenshots I saw for this title just didn’t impress me at all. First impressions were that it was just another boring FPS shooter with a small ‘twist’, being that the main character has super powers, which I last experienced upon playing the rather dull Prey where your character – Tommy could enter the spirit world at will to solve various puzzles that just weren’t possible to solve in his human form.
The Darkness is based on a comic novel that tells the story of mafia hitman Jackie Estacado. Having grown up in an orphanage with his lifelong friend and eventual partner – Jenny, he is taken in by his uncle Paulie Franchetti. Paulie just happens to be the Don of the Franchetti crime family too and is far from a kind soul that most people initially think he is. Jackie grows up in the family as a hitman, one of the best. However things are about to change….
Upon celebrating his 21st birthday, he undergoes a demonic transformation, which is more like a possession. By now you’ve obviously seen the various screenshots of tentacles and two demonic snake-heads on either side of the screen? Well that is known as The Darkness. The dark makes it stronger, and the light, well go figure. The darkness has various different abilities and grows in power as Jackie progresses through the game. He is constantly fighting to understand and control the voice in his head that is the darkness.
The opening sequence of the game is a long ‘rail’ sequence, which does go on for a bit. It reminded me of the intro to Half Life as you’re sat in the back seat of a car with two other mafia men being pursued by both the cops and other hitmen. It’s a blood rush of an opening sequence I must admit as you try and escape your uncle Paulie’s henchmen who want you dead.
Things begin to go haywire for Jackie as he starts to quickly realise that he has dark secret that seem to offer him limitless powers. For starters he can allow the darkness to manifest itself at will, which ends up with multiple tentacles appearing from behind him. This results in two fantastic looking snake heads appearing on either side of the screen. They themselves can cycle through various modes of attack and get their strength from the darkness so you will spend a lot of time shooting lights and street lamps to darken up areas before going into a battle.
One of the most frequently used attacks is known as ‘Creeping Dark’. This involves a single snakehead detaching from a tentacle and allowing Jackie to see through its eyes as it slithers along the floor and attacks enemies. However it can get disorientating should you crawl up a wall as the screen goes upside down and it gets very confusing.