From Frédérick Raynal, the creator of Alone in the Dark, comes 2Dark, a stealth horror game developed by Gloomywood and published by Bigben Interactive on March 10, 2017. Set in the appropriately named city of Gloomywood, locations include a dilapidated amusement park, a foreboding apartment building, a scrap yard and others.
In 2Dark, you play as former detective Mr. Smith whose quest to find his long ago kidnapped children bring him up against a rogue’s gallery of serial killers, demented cooks and their minions. You must choose between sneaking or fighting your way through a variety of creepy locations, or using your limited resources to fight while looking for clues to the mystery of the disappearance of Gloomywood’s youngsters. How are the disappearances connected? Why are the children being kidnapped? Will you ever find your own children?
What’s Happening to the Children?
In a flashback to 7 years ago, we get to experience the ill-fated camping trip in which Mr. Smith’s wife was killed and his two children abducted. In present day, we find Mr. Smith no longer on the police force and the city of Gloomywood racked by a series of child abductions. By matching clues found along the way against Smith’s filing cabinet of police records, the player pieces together the various locations around town that may hold further evidence of where the missing children are.
It’s almost impossible to overstate the fact that the title, 2Dark, is quite an accurate description of the story line and imagery. One of the main goals is to find and rescue the missing children of Gloomywood. Along the way, you will discover that not only are they being abducted, there are terrible things happening to them. At each of six locations, horror is befalling the children in a variety of ways. You must be prepared to not only see the children you are attempting to save be killed, but know that there is a chance you may kill them yourself. (I’m sorry Kenny! It was an accident!)
Initially, I found some of the gruesome images to be distasteful. Most of the graphics are in a pixelated style, which allows you to be one step removed from what you are seeing. However, in your search for clues, you will come across photos and other items that aren’t in the same style, and while still a bit cartoonish, are quite graphic.
The Setting Drew Me In
As I played further, I realised that I didn’t mind the imagery so much. That is to say, while I still found them disturbing, they suited the tone of the game. The locations are very atmospheric and help create feelings of creepy foreboding. For example, during the first level, Smith explores a dilapidated haunted ride at a run down amusement park. As he slowly plods along in the dark, the beams of light from his zippo or flashlight bring the deactivated animatronic clowns into view.
The graphics are one of the highlights of 2Dark. Much attention has been shown to lighting, with very black areas in which to sneak, and pools of illumination gathering around light sources. At first, I found the darkness of shadows to be an annoying difficulty. But, as I adjusted to the sneaking mechanic, I found slinking around in the blackness to become more natural and enjoyable.
I’ve never been much of a stealth game player. I don’t seem to have the patience to wait it out and watch for patterns of behaviour that will allow me to do what needs to be done unseen. I think for this reason I had some difficulty in getting into the game at first. As I gave up the idea that I would be able to complete each level without resorting to violence, I enjoyed the game much more. Eventually, I would paint the floor in the blood of the variety of baddies. Sneak up behind the gunman, club him to death, and drag him off to a room, leaving a trail of blood behind.
However, it seems that it must be possible to complete each location without killing anybody. After finishing each level, you are able to replay them in challenge mode, wherein you try to rescue all of the children, find every piece of candy, and finish with no “victims.” Also adding to replayability are collectables such as paintings, pictures and notes hidden around each spot.
While I eventually enjoyed 2Dark quite a bit, there are a few issues that take away from the experience. As one progresses through the levels, you’ll pick up a large variety of items. Smith’s inventory is constantly displayed as a vertical row along the left side of the screen. Once you fill that row, it moves out and another row is added, taking up further screen real estate. Combine that with the fact that you cannot drop anything and you don’t always know what every item you pick up is for, you’ll often find yourself having to search for the right item at the wrong time. You can collapse the inventory back to a single row, but this sometimes only serves to hide the item you need.
The controls are sometimes a bit difficult. On more than one occasion, I’ve bloodied a child by stabbing or clubbing them when my intention was to pick them up.
Blood trails and pools seem to persist after dying and reloading a saved game. There is currently no way to heal Smith, who sprays blood along his path in increasing quantities as he takes damage. After dying and reloading repeatedly (something you WILL do!), the level is awash in the blood trails left behind from the previous attempt.
Finally, the AI isn’t always very good. Once I settled into bloodbath mode, I discovered at a few locations I could club and drag away a guy who was literally standing next to someone else, who should have noticed. Also, I’ve killed somebody who was in a location with others of his family, who chased me out of the room. Once they lost me in the darkness, they simply returned to the room and resumed their activity with the dead body slumped on the floor.
In conclusion, 2Dark is a very dark, violent, gruesome game that drew me into its creepy atmosphere, yet had a few minor issues that took away from the overall experience. You should know that you WILL see images of children in various states of danger, abuse and death. If stealth horror is your kinda thing, I’d say you should check game out.
Developed by Gloomywood and published by Bigben Interactive, 2Dark is now available for PS4, Xbox One and PC on Steam.
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