2Dark Review: 2Slow, 2Infuriating

March 21st, 2017 -

This review was written by my colleague Chad. We’re looking into creating an account for his future content.

Every now and then, a game comes along that is praised for being painfully difficult. It is a badge of honor; one that games like Dark Souls, Hotline Miami and many others wear proudly. While these games may not be everyone’s cup of tea, you have to give the games, as well as the people who spent countless hours mastering them, a certain level of respect. Unfortunately, 2Dark does not fall into this category. Make no mistake, this game is difficult, and not for the right reasons.

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2Dark is brought to us by Frédérick Raynal, the creator of the original Alone in the Dark, in addition to the fine folks at Gloomywood games. It tells the tale of Mr. Smith (creative, right?) who is investigating a number of child abductions in the town of Gloomywood. Don’t let the cartoon-ish graphics and doe eyed characters fool you, this game does not tiptoe around mature subject matter. During my playthrough I saw the cute children the game tasked me with saving killed in a number of ways, from falling down a bottomless pit, to more violent methods such as being mauled by a tiger.

The visual style of 2Dark immediately drew me in. As someone who grew up with the Sega Genesis and Nintendo, I immediately felt a sense of nostalgia when I started the game. Visually, this is what Silent Hill would have been had Konami released it for Super Nintendo. Unfortunately, beyond the visual style, I can say nothing good about my experience.

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While 2Dark is labeled as a survival horror game, it plays more like a mashup of a point and click adventure game with some stealth murder simulator (think Manhunt or Hotline Miami), all topped off by having to escort the children you manage to rescue to safety. While someone may have thought this sounded good on paper, it fails miserably in execution. The stealth mechanics, which are limited to walking extremely slow and hiding in the dark, are so awful; I found it easier to sneak around the enemies than to try to eliminate them. In the event I was engaged in combat, it typically ended with Mr. Smith’s swift death or a not so epic slapping match reminiscent of The Three Stooges. The only time I was successfully able to kill someone efficiently in combat was using the pistol, which resulted in alerting the entire floor to my location.

The children you intend to save are also a major annoyance throughout your journey, as any time you are more than 2 feet away from them they either wander off to fall into a pit or scream, alerting all of the enemies to your location. While you are given the standard “wait” and “follow” commands, the AI does little to actually follow them, leaving you with only two options for leading the children: throwing candy (Yes, that’s what I said. Go ahead and read that again. I’ll wait), or picking them up and carrying them.

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While I can say that the majority of the locations are effective at communicating a sense of dread or mystery to the world, as the title implies, there is a significant amount of darkness in the game. While you do have a flashlight, lighter, and a number of other options to help you find your way through the world, they are extremely limited. This forced me to spend a large amount of my time walking into the environment hoping I would stumble upon an item or mission objective more often than not. The never ending darkness also leads you to fall into a number of traps which feel like a cheap tactic to ruin your day, as some of these traps appear as an undecipherable group of pixels, even when shining your light on them directly.

These light sources also impact the stealth aspect of the game, as the enemies will make a bee line for you the second you turn on any light source. This also makes saving before making any dangerous decisions a chore, because you must take the time to stop and light a cigarette every time you wish to save. Did I mention that saving your game too often can kill you? Why? Because of cancer. This mechanic killed me a number of times. Not due to saving too often, but after pulling out my handy zippo to light the cigarette and getting attacked by the enemy waiting in the corner, putting me in a never ending loop of death. Luckily, Gloomywood managed to include a lightning fast load option which allows you to get right back into the torture in a matter of seconds.

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While these mechanics are nothing new, it feels as if Gloomywood has intentionally made this game more difficult than it needs to be to prolong the time spent trying to make it through this train wreck. Sure, Resident Evil has limited saves in the past, and Silent Hill used the radio and flashlight to the same effect, but both of those were able to add a sense of dread that 2Dark cannot replicate.

I feel that the biggest issue I have with game is the controls. My time spent in Gloomywood was on the Xbox One using a standard controller. The inventory system requires you to scroll through the grid of items you have found, some useful, some not so much, all while being open to attack. Adding insult to this particular issue, the Y button not only brings up the inventory, but controls selecting item(s), combining items, turning the flashlight or other light source on/off, and using items.

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Taking all of this into consideration, I would only be able to recommend this game as an acquire, and that is only if you enjoy terrible stealth gameplay, masochism, babysitting remedial AI children, and horrible controls. With so many other great horror options available, 2Dark fails to scare, entertain or impress on nearly every level.

ACQUIRE

Pros

  • Gloomywood’s Mature Subject Matter
  • 2D Aesthetic

Cons

  • Everything Else

2Dark was developed by Gloomywood and published by Bigben Interactive. The game launched on PS4 and X1  for $29.99 and PC for $24.99. The game was provided to us for review on X1. If you’d like to see more of 2Dark, check out the official site.

 

Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

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