2Dark is a stealth horror with a seriously disturbing plot, and well… it’s pretty dark. The game begins with a flashback to a family camping trip, 2 children and 2 parents, mum and the kids go to collect some firewood whilst dad puts up the tents. Despite the gloomy music and grey atmosphere, it seems like a relatively happy affair, but alas, minutes later mum’s dead and the children have been abducted, some real heavy stuff. This sends the father and our protagonist Mr Smith into a spiral of grief and liquor, bringing him to where the game truly begins and the player takes the reigns.
As the player here, you’re looking at some top-down stealth, horror and lots of exploration as you unravel the secrets of Gloomywood and its occupants. The AI are impressive and react differently to the various approaches you can make in the game, with the exception that going up or down a flight of stairs seems to lose anyone hot on your heels. They’re also surprisingly strong, your chance of running up to an enemy and beating them with melee is pretty close to zilch. As you are probably aware if you’ve played similar games before, your ammo is very scarce. Sure you can shoot through a few baddies if you’re struggling to find the stealth option, however, you may find yourself well and truly stuck later on when your ammo’s ran out and you’re trying to batter a clown (who is considerably stronger than you are) with a crowbar. That got very specific, but you get the point.
The game boasts some aesthetic retro graphics and a beautiful symphony orchestra soundtrack. Considerable chunks of the world are shrouded in darkness or occupied by rats, this mixed with sinister villains and the gruesome scenes you walk in on make for a well-rounded atmosphere more than capable of drawing you in. In the past I’ve found the ‘less realistic’ graphics to limit my ability to really get into a game and sympathise with the protagonist or fear the bad guys, however, in 2Dark this doesn’t seem to inhibit the realism of the game and personally, I’m grateful for the cool retro look. I don’t think I could stomach some of the horrors the game has to offer otherwise
The gameplay itself thoroughly impressed me, yes the levels are quite linear but for the most part offer an impressive range of possible ways to complete them. The levels follow the general rule of having to save kidnapped children whilst avoiding their captors, you gain the children’s trust by throwing candy at them… after that, they follow you to safety, provided you know what you’re doing of course. Stealth is usually the most effective tactic and involves the likes of silently removing your enemies, tiptoeing behind them or plunging an area into darkness, however, after spectacularly failing to bypass the same person god knows how many times, all guns blazing works pretty great. Heads up though, it is possible to kill the children… I’m not proud of what happened, I’ll just say it involved a crowbar and some poor judgement. As you progress through the game Mr Smith slowly uncovers more and more about the horrors of Gloomywood (yes, that’s what the town is called), serial killers, human trafficking of children with some potential sickening sexual motives. Mr Smith lost his family to these psychos and he’s on the path for revenge, and also freeing all the other poor children of course.
2Dark seems to delve into things that other games, movies, TV shows etc, tend to just avoid. I mean they’re rather transparent about the games’ genre from the title alone, although I still wouldn’t have predicted the game was on the sale of children for whatever grim reasons. 2Dark effectively shines a light on the horrors that humans are capable of.
All in all, 2Dark is a great experience, albeit a rather creepy one with more depth than initially anticipated in terms of both the plot and gameplay mechanics. I would absolutely recommend purchasing 2Dark to anyone who’s interested or just looking for a new game to try out. Some gems end up being overlooked just because they’re indie games, hopefully that won’t be the case here, and hey it puts a much smaller dent in your wallet than the AAA games. March 10th is when it drops in the PSN store, be sure to check it out.
Overall - 8/10
2Dark is gruesome, complex, suspenseful, and believe it or not, it’s pretty dark. If you’re looking for a horror game then don’t pass on this indie title, however, be warned it does tackle some pretty heavy stuff. The horror comes more in the sense of the atmosphere and what you know is going on in your head as oppose to in your face jump scares. This is all displayed in an appealing top-down retro looking fashion. 2Dark hits the PSN store on March 10th, check it out.
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