Darkness Within Collector’s Edition is the combination of two games: Darkness Within: In Pursuit of Loath Nolder and Darkness Within 2: The Dark Lineage. The game is developed by Zoetrope Interactive and published by Iceberg Interactive.
Darkness within is an alternate look on the point and click genre, following closer to the likes of Myst then to the more common 2D point and click adventures. The actual theme of the game is a mix of psychological thriller and horror mostly due to its Lovecraftian inspired story and world.
Darkness Within: In Pursuit of Loath Nolder follows Howard Loried a police detective investigating a murder case involving a suspect who for some reason vanishes for years.Howard’s investigation however only grows the more he delves into this mystery as his sanity begins to unravel and reality becomes questionable. The story Zoetrope have created is a great homage to the world of H.P Lovecraft with a well told and immersive story.
Darkness within 2 follows on from the first game so some minor spoilers will be in this paragraph. Howard comes to the discovery that his own life is intertwined with the world he experienced from the first game creating a second mystery he needs to unravel.
In Pursuit of Loath Nolder as previously stated is a Point and click game in the same wake as Myst, players move area to area by clicking, and are able to look around an area from where they are standing. Most of the gameplay revolves around puzzles; thankfully these puzzles have a fair amount more depth than some modern point and click games, and fit well with the detective motif. The puzzles will revolve around the normal searching an area for everything possible, but also scanning evidence for clues and compiling thoughts to make a conclusion. This style of gameplay really helped set Darkness Within as a stand out game; it really aided the experience and reflected the scenario well. It’s a common gripe of mine that many puzzle games border the nonsensical, with puzzles clearly placed to block your path, but Darkness within managed to create convincing situations.
Darkness Within 2 follows much of the same core gameplay, however it trades it’s area based movement for first person controls, allowing players to move around areas much more openly and have much more freedom over the game. The change of camera style while nice at first, but a slight despair dawned when I began to miss the nostalgia of the old control style. The actual controls work well however it felt like this change of controls seemed to damage the pacing slightly making the experience much more drawn out, however this is somewhat rectified when the drawn out parts are aided by the game’s horror presentation.
Both games are aided by a well-crafted ambient sound track really helping to set the mood of each area, and can really draw the player into the game with its entourage of low humming, creaking floorboards and violent gales. The soundtrack really draws you into the experience helping to set how the character feels and helps to amplify the horror elements of the game. The first game seemed to have been much stronger in terms of sounds with much more unsettling soundtracks, but this by no means takes away from 2’s great sound work. Sadly the same cannot be said for the games voice work with a bit underplayed voice acting in both games, leaving the voice work less than spectacular. The first game again manages to have better voice acting as some of the characters in 2 feel a bit forced.
Graphically both games excel with dull tones and a good contrast of light and darkness, setting the mood and allowing the games horror elements to greatly take over the experience. The first game really excels with every screen being moody, however many cut scenes looking dull in comparison which damages the experience slightly. The second game while still looking great, takes a bit of a hit in terms of lighting and a large blow with character models. Many of the characters stick out like a sore thumb, and the players arm sticking awkwardly out makes the game look a bit strange. This can be easily overlooked and will only cause minor issues to some.
Some great puzzles which can really test your brain power, thankfully for the less skilled at mind games there are three difficulty modes helping to make the game easier with hints. The game also features many interesting concepts with clues and such helping the game stick out.
Great horror aesthetic with a well-designed homage to H.P Lovecraft’s work, the story is well fleshed out and works perfectly with the gameplay to create an enthralling experience. The graphics and sound work really help to top the game off create an immersive experience, the only issues arise in select situations, but occur much more frequently In the Dark Lineage due to the change to first person.
Both games last several hours with the second game lasting a little bit longer, after completion like most puzzle games there isn’t much reason to return, so most players will give it a once over, and maybe return if they really enjoyed it.
A great game paying homage to many older titles, all the while adding new elements to keep it interesting. The first game is by far the stronger, as sadly the other takes a bit of a hit by the change of perspective. The added twists on the gameplay invoke great puzzles causing much of the game to be a joy until you are forced to give in and use a hint, when beaten by the games mind games. A point and click nostalgia trip well worth your time.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.