Review: 2Dark (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: 2Dark
Format: PSN (455.6 MB)
Release Date: March 10, 2017
Publisher: Bigben Interactive
Developer: Gloomywood
Original MSRP: $29.99 (US), €29.99 (EU), £24.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 18
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
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Some games pique my interest when it comes to their subject matter. I often find myself scouring the internet for pointless facts and accounts about them, seeing how close the developers mirror reality or exaggerate it for effect.

It is with a grim fascination that I decided to check on the number of abductions and kidnappings there are in various countries and the pitiful number of safe returns reported. I became sick to my stomach.

This game focuses on the gruesome and disturbing side of things, with no true life accounts or basis in reality. This is purely aimed at the fictional and macabre side of things. My wife was appalled at the premise of 2Dark, the new game from the creator of Alone in the Dark. It probably didn’t help that she walked in as I accidentally shot and killed a small child.

Gameplay:
2Dark begins with you watching an idyllic but slightly telling scene of a family camping trip about to end in tragedy. Frédérick Raynal, the creator, has not given us a mythical beast on a rampage, nor has he brought the dead back to life, he has made the enemy normal people. Well, maybe not normal. They are disgusting psychopathic child-snatching creatures, but they look normal enough.

I would have preferred to be sneaking past demons or the undead. The realization of the scariest thing on the planet being normal looking people is what makes this experience so disturbing. Not that I was unaware of the evil things that people do, but you don’t often find the pure evil scum of child-snatchers playing the villain in a video game.

… once they start crying, it can be hard for them to stop …
What makes things worse is that you have to guide the poor kids out to safety, for example, through the decaying hovels and rundown amusements of an old circus, and you rarely have enough weapons to defend yourself and batteries for your power-hungry torch.

This forces you to either use the environment to your advantage, luring the evil scum into traps or away from others so you can dispatch of them without being seen and heard, or sneaking past all of them with the crying kids following behind.

Just like real children, once they start crying, it can be hard for them to stop, especially considering the location you are saving them from. If they get too close to something horrible, they might scream and freeze in fear. They also fidget and whimper if they have to stand still and quiet for too long, so you cannot dawdle.

I took a while to get used to the controls and I occasionally pressed the wrong button with disastrous results. You can equip a weapon in one hand and an item in the other. This can be done via a quick dial menu or by selecting it from the side menu. I frequently got lost in the menu as I forgot about the quick select options. The outcome of this was often my character’s painful death as I fumbled around looking for the correct weapon or item.

Once I figured out that I could move things around in the expandable side-menu and a tap of the quick dial menu equipped the last used item, things became much easier. Then I became accustomed to the stop and follow commands for the kids, although my character whispers “Come on,” and “Shhh.” There are also one or two things lost in translation when it comes to some text, but nothing which spoils the game.

I jumped several times when my poor disheveled character, a retired detective named Mr. Smith, fell to his death or accidentally impaled himself on some rusty spikes. It doesn’t help that I was too apprehensive when it came to illuminating my surroundings, at least in the first few attempts.

… I crept around a dimly lit garage …
Visuals:
Voxels are not a new thing but they are being used more frequently in gaming, often with impressive results. 2Dark uses a 2D top-down view and 3D voxel characters with light and darkness playing an extremely important role.

Blood and scenes of horror can be witnessed with every sweep of torch-light and flicker of flame from a lighter or candle. The darkness can be your friend, hiding you from the psychopathic villains. It can also be your enemy by hiding all manner of things from you including traps, savage animals, and even the bad guys themselves. This is where my reluctance for casting light on my surroundings came from.

Once I got to grips with the old-school inventory system complimented with the new quick dial menu and the visual and hearing limits of the enemies, things were looking up. I used a dead body to lure a savage animal into a cage. I kept the kids I had found back in another room while I crept around a dimly lit garage and killed the last remaining enemies.

The atmosphere makes the tension and anguish so apparent, especially when you stumble upon a mangled torso and blood smeared all over the walls and soaking into the filthy carpets. The kids recoil at the sight of a corpse so you have to be careful and quite often will have to move a body.

You can zoom in closer to Mr. Smith if you want to get a better look at the scene but the way the game looks and plays lends itself to a wider angle so I tend to keep it as far back as possible. At various points the camera automatically zooms in for dramatic effect and then back out when the panic subsides, it works well and gets the heart racing.

… such a harrowing experience …
Audio:
The screams and whimpers from terrified little kids are horrible to hear, largely because sound travels and might attract the attention of a vile beast lurking nearby. The same goes for your gunshots and even footsteps, so you always have to be careful, with sneaking and surprise attacks being your greatest ally.

You get a paragraph of spoken text from Mr. Smith after the completion of each mission and he sounds as you would expect, a tired gravelly voice from a rough chain-smoking former detective. It would have been nice to hear more voice work in the game but as the text is often repeated, it might not be such a bad thing to not hear them.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
2Dark plays on the ultimate fear of many gamers. It tortures us with the idea of innocent young and defenseless children being taken from us. Having to protect them from the pure evil that would happily tear them apart just for a thrill is such a harrowing experience that I often caught myself holding my breath.

This is a very different kind of game than what most people expect nowadays, even the way you save the game by getting Mr. Smith to light up and smoke a cigarette has a very old-school feel. Some may argue that the price is high for what you get, but I believe we have to pay for quality and unique titles like this, otherwise we will end up with the same old stuff every year.

This is far from just a stealth game, as you have to protect the terrified little children and guide them to safety, avoiding the cruelest and most evil people you could imagine. As its disclaimer suggests before the game loads, it is for a mature audience only as it contains explicit violence and gore. It will get under your skin as the grown-up narrative weaves into a memorable, sinister, but disturbingly enjoyable game.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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