When we hear about survival horror games, most of us think about games like Resident Evil or Silent Hill, while older gamers will also probably remember Alone in the Dark. Making its debut in 1992, Alone in the Dark was directed by Frédérick Raynal and the game established many conventions of the survival horror genre. While Raynal has worked on several other titles over the years, such as Big Adventure and Soul Bubbles, he’s now back with a brand new survival horror called 2Dark.
2Dark starts off with protagonist Smith having a camping holiday with his wife and children. What sounded like a perfect time to spend with his family, ended up being his worst nightmare. While he was setting up the camp and the rest of his family was gathering wood, he hears the distant screams of his family, and when he goes he searching for them he finds his wife was beheaded and his children kidnapped. The game then jumps forward several years, with Smith still having no clue about the whereabouts of his children or if they are even alive. In the meantime, he has dedicated his life to hunt down child kidnappers and rescue children, hoping that someday he will find his own kids.
As you would expect from a horror survival game, 2Dark is a mix stealth, exploration, and puzzle solving. The game tasks you with infiltrating into various areas of the city and save children who have been captured by serial killers. While you have to be on the lookout for kidnappers, they aren’t the only danger you will face in each level, since you can also run into spikes, pits, and other contraptions that will kill you in one hit. Even the children you are trying to save are not safe, as they can fall victim to these threats and die, although this doesn’t mean it’s game over for you.
Trying to stay unnoticed is crucial if you want to survive. For the most part, enemies are equipped with chainsaws, knives or other deadly weapons, making combat unadvisable unless you use your gun. However, since ammo is very scarce, it’s best if you go for the stealth kill if the enemy is in your way. Each level has lots of dark areas, which allows players to conceal themselves in the dark and wait for the perfect opportunity to easily kill the enemy. You will also have to take in consideration the noise you make, since running, opening crates, among other actions will alert enemies nearby. This is something that proves itself to be a challenge when you have the children near you, as they often will start screaming or crying, and you will have to calm them down by talking to them or give them some candies.
The major downside of 2Dark is the fact that it’s a trial and error heavy game. Like I said before, direct combat isn’t an option for the most part, which means you are screwed if you fail to stealth kill an enemy, which could easily happen on your first attempts. There’s also loads on instant kill contraptions, especially in dark areas, which makes things frustrating when you were just casually walking by. While it’s true that for dark areas you have a flashlight, its batteries will deplete as you use it, meaning you can’t have the flashlight on all the time. This is made even worse by the game’s manual save only system. There are no auto saves or checkpoints, which taking in consideration the trial and error nature of the game, forces you to save the game all the time.
Aside from the stealth/horror aspect of the game, 2Dark also features several puzzles in you need solve in order to progress forward, and while most of these are simple and sometimes just require you to obtain an item, they still require some thinking and special attention to details such as dialogue. Speaking of items, the inventory system is also one of the issues of the game. In each level you will collect dozens of items, all of which will go shown in the left hand side of your screen and can be accessed via the d-pad. The issue here is that time doesn’t stop or slow down when you are picking an item from your inventory, which makes things complicated and frustrating in certain situations where you need to use a particular item fast.
The game’s visual style and music do a great job at building up that horror/scary atmosphere that 2Dark tries to create. As you explore each level you will find bloodstained corridor, mutilated corpses, bones, and more terrifying stuff. The twisted design of the serial killers, added to deadly traps and these scary environments, manage to build panic and tension as you try to keep yourself and the children alive.
In the end, 2Dark is a game that had the potential to offer a great survival horror experience, but ends up falling short due to poor gameplay mechanics. The game starts off well with an interesting story and setting, and a tense and challenging experience of rescuing children. However, the trial and error gameplay, added to a clumsy inventory management, makes the game boring and frustrating really fast.2Dark was reviewed using a digital copy provided by Bigben Interactive. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
|Interesting and intriguing story.|
|Keeping all children alive provides some challenge.|
|Visuals and music help build up the scary atmosphere.|
|Too much trial and error gameplay.|
|Clumsy inventory management.|