Frédérick Raynal has been making games since the ’70s and if you happen to recognize his name, you’ll most likely know him as the director of Alone In The Dark which was the acknowledged inspiration to the first Resident Evil. While he’s also responsible for other underappreciated titles, such as Big Adventure and Soul Bubbles, he’s back with a brand new survival horror, 2Dark that creeps on a subject that not many dare to venture in; the kidnapping, torture, and murder of children.
As the title suggests, 2Dark is a disturbing story that takes place in the clutches of “Gloomywood”. The story follows Smith, a man with a tortured past with the drive to find his kidnapped children and avenge his murdered wife. While having dedicated his life to finding his own children, it seems Gloomywood has a nasty tendency for other children to go missing and in turn, Smith goes to rescuing those youngsters as well. While I knew the game was graphic and dove into sensitive subject matter that is rarely dabbled in, I was quite shocked and taken aback by the dark events and just how quickly everything seemed to happen. I mean, a homicide and double kidnapping can’t get much worse, right? I was proven to be wrong.
During the game’s progression, it has you traversing different areas of the town, searching for kidnapped children in the homes and hideouts of serial killers. Played down in an isometric perspective, the game’s stealth mechanics work on a sound range and line of sight system. If the enemy can’t see you, it certainly doesn’t mean that they can’t hear you. Players will have to take into consideration just how loud even opening a crate is, trying to make sure the children you are luring out to safety aren’t screaming or crying and even how loudly you may be walking. Should you mess up sneaking around, there is a combat system but it can be a bit frustrating, to say the least. No matter what kind of weapon Smith geta ahold of, he isn’t particularly adept at fighting. The best bet players have is to stick to the shadows and wait for the opportune moment to perform a stealth kill.
“2Dark that creeps on a subject that not many dare to venture in; the kidnapping, torture, and murder of children.”
While sticking to the darkness is the best possible thing the player can do to conceal themselves, it does feel like there is an excess of pitch black areas that conceal traps which will result in an instant death. It might be frustrating at first but this will help teach you how to expertly use your light sources to quickly check if there might be one coming up. Luckily this is only a bit of a problem in the earlier levels of the game.
For the most part, the game play remains quite active. Picking up and interacting with items only requires Smith to bump into them or press the prompted button on screen. You have two buttons that will have Smith call children to follow him or shush them if they are being too loud, the necessary bumper that can be used with your equipped item, shooting a gun, whacking around your crowbar or throwing candy at children. Yes, that’s right. To get the child’s attention, you will have to convince them to follow you by throwing and offering candy to them, because let’s face it, who doesn’t love bonbons. And lastly, we have the button that controls the inventory.
Unfortunately, the inventory system in this game is a bit messy and, in my opinion, is what makes the game difficult and terribly frustrating. Every level has items of upwards to 40+ items that can be picked up and with a ten-item quick use bar on the side of the screen and context menus on the shoulder buttons, it gets easily overwhelming as the game itself does not pause or slow down. You can only imagine how difficult it is to try and reload your gun from within your inventory as you’re being chased around by a chainsaw wielding lunatic because honestly, simply standing there is not really an option. Luckily with careful planning and inventory management, this is something that can be easily worked around. Naturally, there’s a lot of trial and error to be done in this game and you will fail, but don’t worry, Smith will remind you to take a smoke break every so often to save your progress.
Once you’ve figured out the mechanics and have found your groove, being able to execute your plan of attack is extremely pleasing and offers players a profound satisfaction while fighting the worst imaginable evil. Unfortunately, the actual story, which was intriguing at first, did seem to fall off near the end. I will also admit that I a well-seasoned stealth genre gamer and after figuring out the inventory system, I found the game to be quite my level of game play as the whole light and dark system is rather simplistic. However, a lot of the success was dependant on forward planning. Players who are more adept at stealth games might find 2Dark to be too easy and less satisfying.
*** PS4 review code was provided by the publisher ***
- Unconventional intriguing story
- Good labrythine level design
- Puzzling yet sensible puzzles
- Extremely frustrating inventory system
- Gameplay is too reliant on trial and error
- Possibly too easy for seasoned Stealth genre lovers