Here we have a twin-stick shooter by the name of D.A.R.K for the iOS. Does this game have some light in it or are you better off in the dark?
After a good looking introduction, the story goes that your ship was hit by an asteroid and now you must escape the shuttle that you are on. The place is infected with zombies and aliens along with robots that will come in swarms. You’ll eventually meet a female companion and, like all true horror movies, you two decide to split up and join each other later. Your goal is to escape and join with her. The story isn’t strong but it’s there to at least add some kind of narrative. When you’re playing you won’t be thinking “will I meet her and survive” you’ll be thinking “what next?”. You can’t really blame for the weak narrative because in a game like this what matters most is gameplay. Still it’s hard to pursue a game when you don’t really care about the story or even your character.
The graphics were a surprise for me. The screen shots do not do it justice because although it looks like a simple twin-stick shooter there is a surprisingly amount of detail within the game and the camera does zoom in a lot at times showing you some more detail. The majority of the game is spent in a top view but the game does take a chance by having some unnecessary side-scrolling sections too. They’re not that long and are really only there for some “scare” moments or to connect one room to another. Still you’re character looks pretty good from above and up close. The zombies or aliens are hard to tell apart, but you won’t really care; as long as something is getting killed.
Along with the graphics are the impressive sounds. The guns all sound great along with the satisfying reload sound. The ghouls all have their moans and there is some dialogue between characters. The music is—appropriately–dark and grim, with some rooms relying on just the creeks of the corridor that you are in.
The gameplay is the important part, is it playable? Well it is playable mostly due to the very simple control scheme. The aiming can definitely be improved but the one major thing that did stick out were the buttons layout. For one thing the “attack” button is very close to the useless “dodge/roll” button and I have found my thumb slipping off to have my character randomly roll away. The gun selection slider could have been a little bigger or placed elsewhere since in the heat of the battle, when I’m meaning to switch weapons I would accidentally open up the inventory instead. This has happened more than once and it does get a little annoying.A nice feature that is added however, is a 3 second count down whenever you go in to your menu (by slip of the thumb)or receive a call or text, it doesn’t throw you right back into the battle but instead gives you some time to recuperate yourself. This was actually a nice touch.
Like mentioned there is a menu that you can check your inventory which was all simple to navigate and it played around with some RPG elements such as leveling up and upgrading certain items and abilities. When killing enemies you can receive experience points that can go towards upgrading your characters, whether it is in “power” or “speed” it’s your call. You can also collect money to use at shops scattered though out the game. It’s here that you may buy more weapons, ammo, health and upgraded suits which all made me feel that killing enemies offered a reward as well.
Most of the game is driven in this style. Go in a room solve a simple puzzle (either pressing a switch or get oxygen while pressing a switch) then literally fight waves of enemies. Killing a bunch of baddies on screen is fun but I felt like this was a way to stretch the game to make it feel like it was longer then it really was. Fighting 5 waves of enemies one after another will make you forget what you’re doing and will automatically set your brain to “default” mode to the point that you just get a little bored. When the fights are scattered it’s a nice break from some puzzle elements, when the fights are right after another it does feel a little repetitive and boring. Which is a shame because like mentioned earlier killing enemies is always fun, it’s just having 5 waves of enemies does become repetitive and you’ll go from “this is fun” to “another wave?”
Because there are a lot of enemies on screen I have encountered a few bugs that did stop my progress in the game. Many instances I had an enemy in a wall shooting at me but was not actually there. There was no way for me to neither kill it nor see it but it could shoot me. Another bug resulted in absolutely nothing happening after killing a horde of enemies. It was wave 3 out of 5 and nothing was showing up. In these instances I had to restart the game and hope that the game would continue. In bugs like these it does become an inconvenience when you’re not sure if you’ll be able to continue due to invisible enemies or the game feeling like it’s not loading which will probably result in you doing the same wave again, and like I said although it is fun but it does get repetitive.
With that said it is still an enjoyable game. It won’t take you a long time to complete it but the amount of upgrades and weapons will make you come back and play just for fun. I did enjoy some of the puzzle elements but the repetitive enemy hordes made it almost boring. The graphics and sounds are pretty impressive, the control layout can be improved and there is the occasional bug where nothing does happen. Still with all this in mind it definitely D.A.R.K was still an enjoyment to play and a breath of fresh air and a unique iPhone game that does stand out. I’d still recommend this even with the occasional glitch.
ProsGreat Looking Eerie Sounds Amount of Weapon and Upgrades Cons Control Layout Repetitive gameplay
Minor bugs and glitches