Dark Void

Some games offer nothing new. They are content to emulate, to re-use tried and tested mechanics and re-brand old concepts. Other games try to move things forward. These titles push boundaries, fusing elements that have never been combined in an effort to create something unique. Dark Void seems to embrace both of these philosophies. It is a chimera; an interesting new idea that has been realised by gluing together pieces of other people’s. Unfortunately, the result is a ponderous, uneven experience, one which amounts to less than the sum of its parts.

The first few chapters of Dark Void are standard third-person cover-shooter fare. Our hero, the conspicuously over-named William Augustus Grey, is flying through the Bermuda Triangle with his ex-girlfriend when (sharp intake of breath) things go awry. Crash landing in the middle of an uncharted (ahem) jungle, Will and his once paramour Eva are suddenly set upon by hordes of angry androids packing plasma-flavoured heat. Unfazed, Will picks up a canon, crouches behind a conveniently placed rock and proceeds to Nathan Drake his way through the whole lot of them. It turns out that he and Eva have fallen into the Void, a sort-of no-mans land between the human world and the world of the Watchers, a technologically advanced alien race who are claiming Earth as their home planet. With the help of the Survivors, a group of Void-dwelling resistance fighters, it’s up to Will to save mankind using nothing but a stylish leather jacket, a roguish grin and a tonne of off-world weaponry.

Oh, and a jetpack.

You see, after running and gunning your way through an hour of ground-based action, the game straps a rocket booster to your back, kicks you off a cliff and tells you to make like a tiny, fleshy 747. So begins Dark Void’s tightrope walk between Uncharted-style cover-shooter and Crimson Skies-style flight sim. The problem is, Dark Void is like the boyfriend in those diabolical sitcoms, the one who takes two girls out for dinner in adjacent restaurants and then spends the whole evening flitting breathlessly between the pair of them, eating half of each meal and forgetting which girl is Mandy and which girl is Melanie. You might quietly admire his ambition, but you know that he’s going to finish the evening exhausted, alone and with two different vintages dribbling down the front of his shirt.

The ground-level combat is functional, but it’s familiar stuff that becomes very repetitive very quickly. There are only a few enemy types, none of which are particularly bright or challenging. The game features an initially promising vertical cover system, but the shine soon wears off that once you realise it’s merely the horizontal cover system with a crick in its neck. The transition between ground and air is jarring at first, but once you get a handle on the take-off procedure there are some enjoyable aerial encounters to be had. You can hijack enemy aircraft mid-flight, but the mini-game required to accomplish this is so drawn-out that it’s both quicker and more entertaining to stick to classic dog-fighting.

The missions are oddly paced, with long escort missions followed by brief and uneventful skirmishes. Visuals are bland and the frame rate chugs during the exciting bits, so much so that at times even the music cuts out. The plot and dialogue are messy and disjointed, with story elements and characters lifted straight out of The Matrix. Curiously, Nolan North’s vocal work is actually detrimental to the impact of the game, serving as a constant and somewhat depressing reminder that you are not playing Uncharted 2. However, honourable mention goes to Bear McCreary’s score for some truly gnarly slap-bass action.


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2 responses to “Dark Void”

  1. Jake avatar
    Jake

    I have to say I really enjoyed this when I played it at the Eurogamer Expo. It was really good fun, but all the reviews point to it being less fun than I remember. I’m really torn on this one.

  2. Del Torro El Sorrow avatar
    Del Torro El Sorrow

    The graphics in the full game look better than the graphics on the demo…

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