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The Darkness (PlayStation 3) artwork

The Darkness (PlayStation 3) review


"More dim than anything..."


The Darkness promises equal helpings of action, body horror and demonic chaos, and it delivers those qualities to an extent, but not without constantly stumbling. Somewhere under the madness lies a solid horror FPS. You just need to sift through a lot of nonsense...

I mean, there are a few exciting segments. For instance, I loved the opening scene, riding shotgun in a vehicle while tearing through a tunnel and recklessly shooting. It was an intense, cinematic gunfight, one that ended with Hollywood-style explosions and mayhem. Near the end of the campaign, there's also a shootout where you and several allies hole up in an apartment while mobsters storm the premises. You knock out windows and gun down gangsters while avoiding sprays of bullets. Best of all, you can't rely on the game's gimmicky super power to win here, which is what separates this title from other first-person shooters. While this sounds like a drawback, it's actually quite liberating. That statement alone speaks volumes about this product as a whole.

The main selling point here is that you're equipped with soul-consuming demonic powers, which manifests as two serpentine beasts called "Darklings" that protrude from your shoulders. They draw power from darkness itself, allowing you to pull off some neat tricks. You might use one to act as a scout by slithering around corners, for instance. They can also flip distant switches and stealth kill foes, netting you some experience points that allow you to bolster your abilities.

I'll admit that it's kind of cool for a while, watching these creatures tear out and eat opponents' hearts. However, munching tickers grows old after a while, and the Darklings become nothing more than a nuisance. This is especially true during combat, where they obstruct your view and leave you vulnerable. However, irritating as this misstep sounds, it's the least of the game's woes...

With the Darklings and the abundance of dark corners, you're horribly overpowered.. Any time you sit in the shadows, you replenish your abilities, never running dry as long as you're bathed in shadows. There are numerous scenes where you run into a group of thugs, and there just happens to be a patch of darkness behind an obstruction. You can hide there are and stealth kill almost all of the enemies before they figure out what's happening, then gun down the remainder.

You'd think if a group of guys witnessed one of their buddies getting brutally murdered, the last thing they'd do is loiter around. However, they're somehow oblivious to a giant shadowy snake-demon approaching them, and are similarly baffled by their friends' sudden, violent deaths. Never mind that something is ripping their hearts from their chests while they scream in agony. It's nothing important. Let's keep looking around and shouting until we find whoever killed Murphy.

Not every place offers safety, though, as there are plenty of street and alley lights around. However, they're nothing a bullet won't fix. In most FPSs, you only shoot lights when you're messing around. Here, you do it all of the time, because you need shadows to survive. While it's neat that destroying bulbs serves a purpose this time, it's annoying that you go through the entire campaign destroying lights every few seconds to a couple minutes just to maintain your abilities.

You're probably thinking that I should have left the exploitable skills alone and stuck mostly to shooting for added challenge. Sadly, the shooter elements are pretty wonky, mostly due to stiff control response. It takes ages to move your reticle where you want it, when you should be able to aim with ease. Auto-aim usually kicks in when you're in combat, but even that screws you over. Occasionally, you end up overshooting your target and missing a shot because the auto-aim threw you off. Worst of all, gunplay is clunky because of those flaws when it should be fluid. Action sequences would have moved smoother had you been able to aim unassisted and with proper control response.

So you venture forth, armed with lackluster shooting and annoying/overpowered abilities, often not knowing where the hell to go next. It's cool that stages are amazingly detailed and carry a rich, dark atmosphere, but they're confusing to navigate. Some of them, like a level called "The Trenches," require you to wander until you happen upon your objective. Urban areas are much worse, providing you with directions to your next objective by giving you specific street and business names, as you if you're a citizen of the in-game city. I spent over an hour wandering the streets early on trying to find one damn restaurant. The least they could have done was provide a mini-map or a beacon to follow.

Throughout The Darkness you will wander, swear at the stupid demon heads as they block your view, curse the terrible shooter mechanics and sigh as you grow tired of ending battle after battle with the same strategy. Deep down, though, you know there's a solid action title buried under the mountain of flaws. It's not the concepts that make The Darkness a painful game, but their implementation. With improved AI, less confusing stage design, solid mechanics and a stiffer challenge, this could have proudly carried the dark shooter torch once held by games like Doom and Quake.

Project Horror 2019



















Bonus Content







2/5

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (October 12, 2019)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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kazriko posted October 12, 2019:

I really enjoyed this game when it was new, mostly for the storyline and similar things, but I dunno how I'd feel about it now.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted October 15, 2019:

I think I remember the story being pretty solid, at least. I dug the comic way back, too, though I don't remember much about it.

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