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iPhone  header logo

D.A.R.K.

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, Xperia Play

Cause for alarm

Product: D.A.R.K. | Publisher: Chillingo | Developer: GameLab | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0, 1.0, 1.0, 1.0
 
D.A.R.K. iPhone, thumbnail 1
You never see jolly, talkative space marines. You see brutes who shave their heads, flick cigars out of airlocks, make growling wisecracks, and shoot various extraterrestrial entities in the face.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your character in Gamelab's twin-stick shooter D.A.R.K. is a Mohican-sporting, over-compensating armoured individual, with a penchant for large metal shoes and violence.

It’s just a shame that the game he inhabits is almost as plodding as he is.

I ain't got time to bleed

After a perplexing intro that sees your unnamed thug get pulled onto a space station when an asteroid hits his ship, you quickly find out that the place seems to have only one female survivor, having been the subject of a Space Zombie Attack (presumably).

D.A.R.K., for all its posturing, doesn’t really have much of a plot. You’re told to head for the escape pods, the woman runs off, and away you go - stomping around samey but well modelled corridors and shooting baddies with your gun.

The gameplay is split almost exactly down the middle between stomping about and twin-stick shooting. Nearly every room starts with you walking in, heading towards a waypoint of some kind (a switch, most likely), pressing it, and then fighting a set number of baddies as they spawn in.

Switch up

This formula rarely alters throughout the 90 minutes or so of playing time. There’s literally no decision making on your part. You just hit the switch, fight, repeat.

If the game had some kind of story to contextualise these sections, or gave you a chance to explore them, then they would make more sense. As it stands, they only make the game feel like it’s dragging its feet.

Things get a little better when it comes to the shooting, with D.A.R.K. using a semi lock-on system that gets around most of the inaccuracy when using two small virtual joysticks.

Why the developer thought putting a ‘roll’ button just above the fire joystick, though, is beyond me, as you won’t ever need to use it and it just gets in the way.

Be afraid

Likewise, the weapon selection is handled very poorly, with the icons skirting around under your thumb so as to make specific choices in the heat of battle nigh-on impossible.

You won’t need these other weapons, like flamethrowers or lasers, in any case. Except for the mini-bosses that pepper the levels, the default gun packs infinite ammo and enough power to see off every foe you’ll face with a few shots.

D.A.R.K. does look and sound good, with a few tacky horror tropes like flickering lights and sudden noises enough to give a quick shock to this earphone-wearing, heavily caffeinated reviewer.

But when the final curtain closes with an extremely lazy attempt at a cliffhanger, it’s hard not to feel that this was a missed opportunity to offer something a little different from the usual twin-stick games.

 
D.A.R.K.
Reviewer photo
Will Wilson | 23 June 2011
An atmospheric and good-looking twin-stick shooter that’s saddled with crushingly linear downtime, a rubbish plot, and control issues
 
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