|System: Xbox 360, PC|
|Dev: Realmforge Studios|
|Pub: Kalypso Media|
|Release: June 11, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes and Violence|
by Jenni Lada
Most forms of modern media forget what vampires are. Vampires aren't extraordinarily pretty individuals with Xeroderma pigmentosum and an occasional taste for meat so rare it's still mooing; they are vicious creatures of the night with talents and tendencies beyond our imaginations. Fortunately, Realmforge Studios is here to issue a reminder with Dark.
Years ago, there was a vampire game I greatly enjoyed called Vampire: The Masquerade. It was the closest thing I had come to a life simulation where I could actually be a vampire, but, somehow, I get the feeling Dark will bring us even closer. Early indications suggest a thriller, a sort of vampire-noir where hero Eric Bane comes to terms with his new life as an undead-killer and must skulk through the shadows in search of the truth.
Yes, Eric Bane is a fledgling vampire. (He also happens to have lucked into one of the coolest vampire names ever, but that's neither here nor there.) Someone turned him; then ditched him. If this were any other vampire series, that would be fine, but in the world of Dark, it's a death sentence. If Bane doesn't drink the blood of his sire within a certain amount of time, he'll transform into a ghoul. Ghouls are mindless, disgusting shadows of the people they once were, so it isn't an appealing proposition.
Time is of the essence for Bane. Some other vampires have taken pity on him and decided to assist him in his quest, but it's mainly all on him. He'll have to stealthily explore areas and make tough decisions to ensure he survives. Not only that, but it seems others are also finding themselves in similar situations, and his quest could bring the massive vampire conversion madness to an end.
If Dark is sounding a bit Deus Ex-ish too you, go with that, if it helps. That idea isn't too far off. The two games have a bit in common. There's a strong male lead with augmentations (though in Bane’s case they're supernatural), solving a greater mystery, making dialogue choices, and primarily relying on stealth to survive.
Well, stealth and the aforementioned supernatural powers.
Dark takes a realistic approach by making Bane's blood crucial for both keeping him alive(?) and allowing him to use special abilities. Blood fuels all; this means you'll often be wondering what's the best course of action, because blood isn’t an inexhaustible resource. Should you go all out and use special attacks, even though they could weaken Bane to the point of (un)death? Or should you rely on a physical assault, trusting that he's stronger and has more stamina than his opponents?
Unfortunately, Bane’s powers are hard to resist using. He has a heightened vampire sense that shows all living people in an area, regenerative powers, an impenetrable Shadow Grip, a fast travel Shadow Leap and other awesome powers.
Those lured into excessive power use shouldn’t worry too much; if the situation ever gets too dire, Bane can sneak up on an unsuspecting individual and make him "lunch." There, problem solved. Just don't forget to hide the body. You can't leave behind evidence in a crowded area because "lunch" might have had friends.
Of course, choosing either to be a restrained vampire or an uncontrollable killing machine will advance the game. No matter what decisions you make, good or bad, Bane will gain experience. In fact, it's probably for the best to try and go one way the first time through Dark, and another the second time. With two different endings, you'll probably want to know both possible ends to Bane's story.
At the very least, it will be intriguing to finally see a vampire game with moral choices that aren’t afraid to show these bloodsucking creatures for what they are. They aren't pretty. They aren't kind. These are monsters who have no qualms when it comes to killing. It may only be with the help of a hero like Bane that humanity has a chance.
We'll see soon enough know how the fight against the vampires goes. Dark will be coming to a Windows PC and Xbox 360 near you. Unfortunately, PS3 and Wii U owners won't know how Bane's tale ends. Perhaps a friend will share the tale of glory or tragedy after its June release.
Date: May 14, 2013