Hi everyone. I haven't been around in a long time because I was obsessed w/ Oblivion on the Darkside and didn't come up for air til recently. The first adventure game I grabbed when I came back to the Lightside was "Darkness Within", and I'm so glad that I did!
I haven't finished the game and am very much still playing it, but I couldn't resist saying a few words about it in case there are some people who want to give it a shot but haven't bought it yet and are wondering what it's like.
First of all, it may have taken Lighthouse Interactive a long while to get the game onto the shelves, but the time spent on production was well-worth it. The game is very polished, very professionally done, and the graphics (always my favorite part of a game) are just stunning.
The scenes are beautifully made, depicting offices, victorian home interiors and spooky outdoor shots with loving attention. One of the neat things to me is that this game takes place in 2011, yet the whole tone of it is circa 1930's, so the player feels like he's very much in the past rather than in the future.
On the gamebox are the words, "A chilling horror adventure inpsired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft". And it's easy to see this inspiration from the get-go. The music, the typed-out diary pages, the chill of "something has happened, but what?"...all combine to give any Lovecraft addict a sweet taste of the Master's work. I'm currently re-reading Lovecraft's stories and as I slip from computer game to bedtime books, there is hardly a blip. For me it's as if ol' H. P.'s spirit is living within this game, and that image lends a wonderful richness and depth to the exploration of the games' many settings.
The music and sounds for Darkness Within were well-chosen too, with just enough sublety that they don't get in the way of the exploration, but just enough "umph" that they stir the hairs on the back of your head as you wander about the halls and tunnels that contain Darkness' mysteries. I am very impressed with the sounds in this game, and that's saying alot because in general when I play a computer game, I turn off the sound and dig into the graphics. For this game though, I feel the need to not only turn on the sound, but to also turn off the lights and put on headphones so as to really become absorbed in the audio. (which btw, in the dark w/ headphones is scary! Ack!)
In all of the creepiness, you the player are not only getting the experience of being scared while staring at pretty graphics, which can sometimes happen in other games. In this one you get to put on your thinking cap and play detective. Not only are you on the hunt for missing P.I. Loath Nolder, but in searching for his whereabouts you also become involved with one of Loath's own cases, that of the murdered Clark Field. Why did Nolder leave the country for five years after taking on this case? Was it connected to Field's interest in the occult? And what happened to Loath Nolder once he returned from his escape to Africa and Oceana? Was that too tied to the Clark Field case or was it something more?
As someone who is still near the beginning of this game, I can't say for sure. (and wouldn't even if I knew---that might ruin it for the rest of you guys!) But I can say that as I tip-toe my way through this game, with only my wits and my notes at hand to help me, I can't help feeling like this mystery is not going to be an easy one to solve.
However, there are lots of in-game helps for the amateur detective so you're not totally on your own. Along with hints there is a neat tool (which is a little tricky and one I am still learning how to use) where you can take objects and combine them, then have your character "think" about them and what they mean. Also, when reading through books, diaries, papers, etc. you can underline clues that seem important and thinking about those as well; often adding new topics and new clues to follow up as you go. Sometimes just looking at photos will move you forward. Other times connecting certain books to others will help you leap forward and into the next part of the game...it's all a matter of reading and re-reading items until they've made their hidden clues visible. Not easy, but the challenge is fun; I always enjoy it when a game makes me work for what I want and teases my intellect just enoough to make me feel involved, but not frustrated. This game does this beautifully, IMO, and whenever I log out of it I find myself curled up in bed thinking about what I need to do next; so I'm not just "haunted" by the game's ambience, I'm also haunted in a different way, by those things that still need attention and how I'm going to solve their riddles so that I can move on to the next part of the story.
All in all I have to give this game a 10/10 so far for the way it has completely captured my imagination. I really haven't felt this "into" and excited about an adventure game in a long time and I'm so tickled that it is waiting for me now, even as I type this.
In fact, I fear I must go for now because I sense that something is waiting for me beneath the darkness, something that wants to get me. I don't know what it is, but I think that perhaps it pursed Loath Nolder as well and that is why he disappeared. Perhaps it is also why we have not been able to find him despite his return to our country.
If I find him and figure out the mysteries during my travels, I will let you know. And if I don't...well, then I am either in the local sanitarium (again), or they've found me...
Whoever and whatever "they" might be...
Hope you guys enjoy the game as much as I am!
Shivers and hugs,