Hey readers! Last week was about a favorite of mine-a DS adventure game set in a tiny roadside hotel.
This week brings us to a shooter that was a fair bit more artistic than shooters usually have a right to be.
The Darkness came to us way back in 2007 for the 360 and PS3, and was developed by Starbreeze, who recently released Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons last year. Based on the Top Cow comic of the same name, you play as one Jackie Estacado, a member of the mob, in New York City. Evading an attempted assassination, the plot takes a hard left turn as the Darkness awakens in Jackie (because it's his 21'st birthday). The Darkness is an ancient power that passes through the Estacado family line, manifesting in gameplay as a pair of demonic heads flanking the left and right of your viewpoint. Oh, and you have access to a variety of powers. Fun, brutal powers-so long as you're in the dark.
See, the Darkness only works in the dark (naturally), so you'll find yourself seeking shadows or making your own by shooting lights out. You'll spend most of your time blasting enemies with a small but useful selection of guns, but it's more fun to use the Darkness.
The game does a great job of making you truly feel the power of the Darkness. You can use tentacles to impale enemies, summon "Darklings," tiny wisecracking minions that fight alongside you, and even create a small black hole, sucking every nearby enemy into oblivion. Not to mention, the Darkness heads have the ability to eat the hearts of your victims, allowing you to raise abilities in an RPG-lite style. I almost forgot to mention the Darkness Guns-two demonic handguns you can summon-but really, I never found myself using them that much.
Because, for one thing, the game isn't really that hard. It's fun, don't get me wrong. But you're really playing The Darkness for the little moments. By which I mean the story.
At this point, we're gonna dive into spoiler territory, so if you haven't played The Darkness yet, scroll down past the next screenshot.
Much has been made (albeit years ago) about the scene where Jackie and his girlfriend Jenny sit in her apartment on the couch together and watch To Kill A Mockingbird. You can sit and watch the whole film on her old TV, if you like. That's but one example of what I mean by "little moments." This moment, in any other game in the world, would be conveyed to you via a traditional cutscene. And nothing would be on the TV.
But here, you mostly stay in control of Jackie throughout. You sit next to Jenny, and you decide when to leave. Or, decide to watch Gregory Peck's Academy Award performance in full. This quiet, low-key scene was more emotional than most any other scene in gaming up to that point. It's a moment that makes you, the gamer, think about something other than "headshots."
It's not the only moment, though. For there's also the matter of Jenny's death, murdered by mob boss Paulie Franchetti and police chief Eddie Shrote. It's a direct contrast to the earlier Mockingbird scene. It's a scene of terror and heartbreak rather than love, and you can't save her because the Darkness holds you back. You have to watch her die.
And the emotional impact is made harder when Jackie kills himself.
It's not something you expect, naturally. You're playing as Jackie. The player character isn't supposed to die, is he? Not this early in the game (this is about a third through or so).
It's a brutally shocking scene, but what sells it is how real, how frankly Jackie's suicide is depicted. There's no melodramatic speech here, save for the Darkness trying to stop Jackie-you-from pulling the trigger. From Jackie's POV, you watch helplessly as Jenny is killed, Jackie rushes to her side-far too late-and then he sees the gun. And realizes he has nothing left anyway.
It's a bit deflated by Jackie ending up basically immortal anyway, thanks to the regenerative powers of the Darkness. Nevertheless, these emotional moments are the reasons why The Darkness is so great. And maybe that's why people-myself included-clamored so hard for a sequel. We got one, and it's great. It had emotional moments too, but really, it couldn't match the highs and lows of the original.
And of course, the ending scene, where Jackie sees Jenny one more time. It's an unusually quiet ending for am FPS, but it fits in perfectly with the tone of The Darkness. One last little stab at your heart.
Don't worry, though, because the lead up to it is pretty explosive, with Jackie leading an assault on Paulie Franchetti's compound, leading to a confrontation with the man himself.
Spoilers end here.
It was very much worth replaying The Darkness. I'd nearly forgotten just how much this game can make you feel over the course of about 8-10 hours. The gameplay still holds up, even if the shooting can be a bit "loose" sometimes. You can see your own feet, which is something I always advocate in first-person-shooters. There's multiplayer, but I hated it back in the day. Shoehorning multiplayer in a game that doesn't need it wastes everyone's time, and dilutes the single player experience. See Spec Ops: The Line.
If you haven't played The Darkness (and this article hasn't spoiled it for you), go track down a copy. It should seriously be like five bucks if you can find it, and it's well worth it. The gameplay itself may be a little dull at times (you do nothing but shoot) but the moments in between will stay with you forever.
Thanks for reading! Hit the comments section! Share some thoughts, ask questions, and suggest future Games of The Week! Also, follow me on Twitter, @WingZero351
Next week-In stark contrast to The Darkness, I've been replaying an old, old shooter that has no real emotional context, but rather, simply asks you to shoot everything. This is THE shooter, people. Pick up a medkit, strap on your armor, and load up a minigun.
UPDATE: My personal blog site is now live! (Though very much under construction as well). Not much going on there right now, BUT you will be able to read my impressions as I play through next week's game! Sadly, I'm not yet equipped to stream. Soon...
Anyway. Each day I'll post some thoughts on my playthrough, culminating in the Game of The Week article, which will remain on TAY, because this community has always been so good to me. So go here-www.portfoozle.com-to check it out! First impressions start tomorrow; I'll probably post like one a day in addition to the other things I'm planning to post. Happy reading!