Blowing up like the Challenger
The concept behind Dark Void is actually pretty neat: Combine elements from several action-adventure games into one grand experience. Draw from Uncharted's dynamic platforming, Gears of War's duck-and-cover shoot-outs, throw in some jet pack air combat, add a little vermouth for flavor and stir together vigorously. Sounds like a sure-fire hit, right? Well, while all of those all taste great (especially the vermouth) they don't necessarily taste great together, like chocolate cake and catsup. You see, throughout the entire game there is a severe a lack of focus.
[image1]Nowhere is this lack of focus more prevalent than the plot. When your primary story arc is trying to defeat giant alien slugs, while trapped in steampunk and Mayan inspired Bermuda triangle, you really need something to back it up. Unfortunately, cut scenes never really flesh out an intriguing story. There's something there that you can piece together after playing through it all, but really it's paper thin and hardly worth engaging. You'd think it would be difficult for the ending to such a malarkey melodrama to disappoint, but impressively they found a way somehow. It just doesn't make any sense. Was there even a script for this thing or did everyone just make a cut scene and bring it into class for show and tell?
Perhaps the poorly told story wouldn't look so bad underneath some impressive graphics, but that doesn't happen either. Instead you get environments, that while large, are for the most part quite plain. Everything is vast but empty, think Oni but outside. There's hardly any variation in enemy design outside of the occasional different color palette and maybe bigger shoulder pads. If you count all the robots that look alike as one type of enemy then there are fewer than ten enemies you'll encounter throughout , and that's including bosses.
Cut scenes are crudely animated and the Disney-like eyes of the character models, especially main protagonist, Will Grey, look completely out of place. It's almost as if they were trying to make a Saturday morning cartoon version of Nathan Drake mixed with a little Rocketeer.
The first few levels start out promising, such as a vertical gunfight on a slowly decaying boat, but nothing ever goes anywhere. Enemies never get harder, and when they do it usually more of the game's poor design that's frustrating you than the encounter itself. What I mean by that is that the mechanics are sloppy, especially when it comes to aiming. The reticule can be hard to see, and in some cases nearly invisible or non-existent (like a g-spot) and trying to shoot while hovering is impossible.
[image2]Flight combat is even worse - in particular I found it most annoying when I would inexplicably die for no reason i could see while in the middle of trying to hijack an enemy plane. Which brings me to my next point; the quick time events are piss poor and seem incomplete. Doing what when and for how long is not always clear. Objective points disappear from your screen, your jetpacks propel you forward into walls like you were Wiley E. Coyote, and you can't tell when you're actually hitting your targets. There was even a level towards the end that I beat insanely quick because I blew something up before engaging my main targets. At the very least it won't take you long to get through the entire thing because the whole game is about as long as this review is forgiving.
Dark Void may be the most aptly named game to ever be realeased - with a half-dozen good concepts sucked in, alas, never to be seen again. It ranks even lower than last year's Bionic Commando in Capcom's list of franchises that had promise but turned out to be no fun to play. A little more fluidity, polish and thought would have made a big difference for this game, as it stands though, Dark aVoid this one.