Hello all! Last week, I talked about a supposed GTA clone; it kind of is, but it’s really not, too.
This week brings us a game long forgotten. Because it’s mediocre at best, but in a weirdly good way.
Dark Void was developed by the now defunct Airtight Games, whose work includes the excellent Quantum Conundrum and their last release, Murdered: Soul Suspect, which I’m playing now, and I’m finding it somewhat underrated. Anyway, Dark Void casts you as a World War II pilot named Will who travels to another world through the Bermuda Triangle, called the Void. He ends up fighting aliens with the help of Nikola Tesla and a damn jetpack.
That’s an amazing setup; it’s awesome in a hysterical B-Movie sort of way. And yet Dark Void never lives up to that premise; as a game, it’s basic as hell. You shoot enemies from cover. You fly around sometimes, and some segments take place “vertically” which is dizzying and fun. The jetpack is super cool; during my brief time with Dark Void (it’s very short), I found myself wondering why more games don’t give you jetpacks or let you fly around. It’s a riot. But it’s all over too soon in Dark Void, and it’s linear anyway.
If it doesn’t seem like I have much to say about Dark Void, it’s because there’s not much there. It’s basic and short; and it’s not the kind of game you’ll likely play again and again. IGN’s review summed it up: “Dark Void is one of those games you’ll play, beat, and forget ever existed.” See, I never trade my games in, so I see this game every day on my shelf. That’s how most of these articles begin, after all, with me spotting a game in my collection. So I never forget Dark Void, same as I never forget the copy of Vampire Rain my brother left here.
But the reason I replayed and am now writing about Dark Void is because of this weird soft spot I have for schlocky, janky games. The kind of games you don’t see ads for; the quiet releases by companies you never hear about. Sometimes those can be pretty great despite humongous shortcomings. Those games are often wonky, but love clearly went into them, and those games are strange and quirky and wonderful. Dark Void is ordinary, and boring, but you can absolutely feel the tremendous heart Airtight put into this game. Had the game been broken outright, I’d have never finished it, because what’s the point? But Dark Void isn’t broken; it’s just shallow, which is totally fine when you think about it. Not every game can feature deep, complex gameplay and a gut-wrenching story.
And frankly, not every game should be, for lack of a better term, an “event.” I don’t want to exclusively play games on the scale of a Final Fantasy or Skyrim, or only take deep emotional trips that have me crying at the end. I don’t have the mental energy for that all the time. Sometimes I want to fly and mindlessly shoot aliens for five hours. That’s fine. Dark Void is such a game; it’s got a cool concept (the jetpack) that separates it enough from the usual, the actual shooting gameplay works even though its not original, and Nolan North is in it, somewhat bafflingly. And, as I said before, sometimes wonky B games are the best. Dark Void isn’t the best thing ever. It’s not even really good. But, then again, it kind of is.
Final note: Bear McCreary did the music for this game (again, baffling) and his score is quite well done, as is to be expected from him.
Thanks always for reading! I have a Twitter and I like talking to people, so follow me!
Next week, I write about one of my all-time favorite classic adventure games. It’s automatically your favorite, too, because Tim Curry is in it.