The horror genre is one that has come a long way over the course of gaming. The core of a good horror game does not rely fully on graphics or the most cutting edge technology. While these absolutely can add to the overall horror experience, 2Dark proves that it is still very possible to create a thrilling, suspenseful game while venturing back to the 2D roots of gaming.
Conceived by Frederick Raynal, the creator of Alone in the Dark, 2Dark tells the story of detective Smith in a search of his kidnapped children after the murder of his wife. Smith’s quest to find his children takes him through a series of haunting areas, while his home acts as the hub between levels. The first level of the game, and one of the most frustrating due to the number of hidden traps, takes Smith to a spooky amusement park where the big bad is, of course, a clown. Further into the game, Smith is taken to a number of equally creepy places, such as a mansion, scrap yard and other places you wouldn’t necessarily want to be caught alone in the dark.
In true survival horror fashion, 2Dark is much less about the run and gun technique and much more about strategically utilizing stealth to get around obstacles. The game is, very literally, too dark in several ways that work to craft the overall atmosphere. Light is vital, coming in the form of lighters, flashlights, and candles, and must be used in a way that doesn’t alert enemies to your location. The use of dark and shadow throughout the game is done well, and while difficult to see most of the environments, it is necessary to maintain the overall aesthetic of the game. Additionally, the themes of this game are very dark and get very mature, very quickly. Many may find the game’s themes off-putting, however, I do feel they are vital to creating the unique experience that is 2Dark.
In regards to sound, the sound effects can be a bit repetitive at times, however, the overall sound quality within the game is solid. This is especially true as Smith identifies items that can be picked up, which uses the same sound throughout the entire game. And trust me, there are a ton of items that can be picked up, most of which don’t have any real use.
My biggest gripe with the game is the somewhat lazy inventory system, which takes up more and more of the screen as you pick up items, many of which don’t have any relevant use. Inventory management seems as though it is meant to be difficult, and there are many times while running from enemies that switching your light off/on and trying to equip and use a weapon simply results in death because the enemies are on top of you almost instantly.
This is probably a good time to mention that you’ll want to save early and often when it comes to 2Dark. You can save any time by smoking a cigarette, though it takes a few seconds so you’ll want to make sure that you aren’t interrupted by any enemies as it will halt the process. With the prevalence of traps that lead to instant death, some of the most frustrating times I experienced with the game came from forgetting to save and having to start a level from the beginning because I accidentally fell into a pit or got impaled. Once you know the layout of the level it is somewhat easy to run back through it, however having to re-rescue all of the children is time-consuming and slow going at times. Escort missions have always been one of my least favorite mechanics in gaming and 2Dark doesn’t really do much to innovate in this regard.
While I enjoyed my experience playing 2Dark, the game was frustrating due to instant kill traps that are near impossible to see the first time around and the continual escort mission portion of the game where you are saving the children. I would have liked to see this game more around the $19.99 price point, however, it isn’t too far off, retailing for $24.99 USD. 2Dark will absolutely be the game that some horror fans have been waiting for, but there were just too many mechanics in the game that didn’t feel quite right for me to truly have fun for long periods of time. 2Dark was released on March 10th and is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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