DARK

Dark review

Dark review

Vampire weakened.

Stealth is hard. Getting it right in a game means more than just creating really cool neck-snapping animations. It requires compelling AI that can at least pass for realistic within the confines of the game's rules. It requires precise movement and a well-balanced skillset, enabling the player to feel both vulnerable and powerful. And it requires something less tangible: the ability to create a feeling of spatial awareness in a virtual environment, simulating sensory information in a way that feels instinctive.

Yep, stealth is hard. Dark, meanwhile, is cheap, and one does not complement the other. Dark flounders on all fronts when it comes to stealth, and there's literally nothing else to the game besides that. Even with gameplay that is pared back to the absolute minimum, quality stealth remains out of developer Realmforge's reach.

You're playing as Eric Bane, a man who we first meet blundering around a nightclub plagued by visions of angels. Your first order of business is to find someone who can explain what has happened to you. Simple answer: you're a vampire, or least halfway to being one. To complete the process and avoid becoming a mindless ghoul, you need to drink the blood of the vampire who sired you. Since they're AWOL, you turn to the trendy bloodsucking clique at the Sanctuary club to find an alternate donor. This leads into six story chapters in which you creep and chomp your way through a variety of locations on the trail of super-vampires who might provide the sanguine solution to your problem.

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Dark Preview: Vampires Done Right

Dark Preview: Vampires Done Right

Like a shadow in the night.

Vampires and stealth always seemed like they'd make a good combination until Vampire Rain had to come along and ruin everything. Since that debacle, no one has been willing to touch that premise with a 10-metre pole for fear of confusion with that game. Leave it to Tropico developer Kalypso to take another stab at this supernatural spin on stealth, only this time the results look significantly more alluring.

Their upcoming game Dark casts you as Eric Bane, a former special unit member recently turned nightwalker who's set on discovering what happened to him. This leads him to break into buildings, feast on hobos and take on corrupt corporations. Did I mention he also returns to a nightclub between missions where its sexy vampire owner provides him with intel for his next target? On paper, it sounds like a laundry list of cliches, but in practice Kalypso uses these tired tropes as a jumping off point for a really interesting approach to stealth.

In perhaps Dark's most novel idea, your health gauge and special powers are one and the same. Your 'blood points' determine how many special moves you can pull off, but they also double as your hit points. Spend them all and you'll still be alive, but a hair's breadth from death. This creates a delicate balancing act between juggling your offensive capabilities with basic survival.

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