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Xperia Play  header logo


For: Xperia Play   Also on: Android, iPhone
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In space, no one can hear you snore

Product: D.A.R.K. | Publisher: EA Mobile | Developer: GameLab | Format: Xperia Play | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
D.A.R.K. Xperia Play, thumbnail 1
Having to flag down help on the hard shoulder of the M1 when your car’s engine has blown is one of life’s most thankless tasks, but we dread to think what it would be like to appeal for aid in the cold, harsh recesses of space.

That’s exactly what happens in D.A.R.K., though. A massive spaceship has come a cropper in the void, and you’re the lucky AA Man (in reality, a hard nut space marine) whose job it is to render assistance.

Predictably, the ship in question has more than just a dodgy radiator to contend with, and is in fact infested with all manner of horrible beasts.

Seeing as you’re the only chap brave (or should that be stupid?) enough to venture anywhere near the godforsaken hulk, you have to deal with this nefarious menace.

Have gun, will travel

What follows is a twin-stick blaster that is shot through with the mildest of RPG undertones. You stomp around each room gunning down ravenous zombie-like monsters while triggering certain events to push the wafer-thin plot forward.

As you progress, you unlock new weapons and your current arsenal becomes more powerful. It’s slightly disappointing, then, that you can quite happily complete the game using the standard assault rifle, rendering the extra armament somewhat redundant.

D.A.R.K. has already failed to impress us in its iPhone guise, and while this Xperia Play update solves some key failings of the original, the foundations it is built on are just as shaky.

A matter of control

We just couldn’t get on with the virtual controls in the iPhone edition, but this port remedies that to a degree. The Xperia Play’s analogue sliders offer a much more satisfying interface, making the intense firefights a little more agreeable.

Still, despite the enhanced control method, we continue to be confused by the developer’s decision to include a ‘roll’ command. It’s entirely useless, and once you stop yourself from accidentally pressing it, you’ll ignore it completely.

Revised controls, however, cannot paper over D.A.R.K.’s other main failing: the storyline is almost non-existent, which is a shame, since the atmospheric and well-produced CGI intro does a terrific job of getting you in the mood for some Dead Space-style survival horror.

Left completely in the D.A.R.K.

D.A.R.K.’s attempt at fusing the twin-stick shooter with a story-driven RPG is largely unsuccessful, and the lightweight exploration sections that punctuate the action feel more like a hindrance than a welcome change of pace.

The biggest bugbear we have with this particular edition of the game is that it costs a significant amount more than its iPhone sibling. In spite of the improved controls, this is difficult to stomach. Android users should not be expected to pay through the nose for a product that is vastly cheaper on a rival platform.

D.A.R.K. on the Xperia Play isn’t a complete disaster – the visuals are decent, and the sound is well done, if a little sparse in places. It also feels as if the game is more at home when played with physical controls rather than on a touchscreen interface.

Irrespective of these brief glimmers of hope, the fact remains that D.A.R.K. is a weak twin-stick action title, and if we’re brutally honest, it’s being pushed into a genre which isn’t exactly short on titles at the moment.
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 12 September 2011
The Xperia Play version of D.A.R.K. does much to atone for the iPhone edition's control problems, but it fails to fix the stale storyline and uninspiring action. The price is also a joke when compared to the Apple version
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