239: Journey Into Darkness

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Journey Into Darkness

2007's The Darkness wasn't just a competent first-person shooter - it told a powerful story about love and the loss of humanity through gameplay alone. Logan Westbrook takes a closer look at Starbreeze Studios' oft-overlooked diamond in the rough.

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I remember it was the story that made the darkness good, the random calls from Payphones and the characters made it worth playing rather than the lacklustre multiplayer

Out of all the games I have played over the years I have never been so immersed in the story of a game like The Darkness. The Demon possessing you truly feels like another character, and even though you control it for most of the game it never seems a part of you. Especially in the Hell levels where you travel into the world of the Darkness, and a boss fight you win by not fighting (something that took me ages to find out, and was a surreal experience).

Another weird moment is during a loading screen. To cover the load, and narrate the plot, there are scenes of Jackie standing in a dark room illuminated by a spotlight from above. He gives little monologues giving a bit of backstory or just cleaning his gun, and they are very nice. There was one, though, where he is simply standing there, and all of a sudden a noise is heard out in the dark. For me that was a big moment in the game. I had just accepted that he was standing there narrating, but now I saw it in a different light. Where actually was he? The darkness and the light took on a totally different meaning. He wasn't just standing there. He was trapped there surrounded by the darkness that had invaded his soul.

The game itself has flaws, the levels are fairly open, but it is far too easy to get lost with no map to show you the way. The Darkling AI can be frustratingly useless, there are too many loading screens to get to different sections, and the last level at the mansion was a bit of a let down.

Those are things I can completely ignore as it is one of the deepest games I have ever played, despite how short the story actually is. As you alluded to you can watch TV. There are a few scattered around, and they each have 5 or 6 channels with actual programs on like movies, music videos, and cartoons. In addition there are notes with telephone numbers on scattered about the world. Pick them up, and you can call the numbers, each with a different message.

Not wishing to spoil anything, but the ending is very strange, and bittersweet. If you don't have this game, buy it now. It's dirt cheap, a good action game on its own, and is the best example of storytelling in a videogame ever.

A corking article. One that highlights the importance of a good story and narrative in any single player game. While storylines exist in most games, the Darkness truly kicked it up a notch, it made you genuinely care for Jenny. When she died, it was a total punch to the guts.

Storytelling like this should be rewarded somehow. The story sucks the player in, makes you LIVE in it's world, then makes you care. (For the lack of a better word) This is the kind of storytelling that movies can never hope to have.

Geez, this article makes me wish I hadn't passed up this game. Great read!

I really must play this game at some point, it sounds like it would tick all my boxes, but I can't convince any of my console owning friends to buy it so I can play it over at their houses.

The life of a PC gamer can be hard sometimes.

Wow, I thought the Darkness looked pretty mediocre, but it actually sounds pretty good

Man. Starbreeze are masters of anti-heroes.

Riddick and Jackie are fantastic examples of this. Although the Riddick games didn't feature any moments of "snuggling on the couch", it gave you little hub areas where you could walk around an take short side-missions and you could find cigarette packs with unique text on each. And Bounty Cards with funny crimes.

Heh, I was sad that I ran out of time to play this. I rented it for the weekend, and got really engrossed in it, and decided to really take my time with the game.

Also, I got stuck.

I loved this game. As stated previously the story in engrossing and there are quite a few nice little subtleties about it that help. Another aspect of it that did it for me was the soundtrack, Theres some really great orchestral stuff in there aswell as some quieter stuff that helps drive the mood of the story. I also just read a moment ago that there is a sequel being written but Starbreeze aren't behind it...

I'm kind of glad I wasn't the only one that enjoyed this game... And yes, the story was really interesting...
About the article, though... *Spoiler Alert* just saying...

I loved the Darkness for it's character development, which I've always been a sucker for. The mechanics are a bit bland, but I can always excuse it just for the sake of progressing through the storyline to get to the next Half-Life esque "cutscenes".

Man, I really wish I had played the Darkness, that sounds awesome.

Well described! I, too, felt like the Darkness wasn't given a fair shake by most. If they had devoted the resources they put towards multiplayer (that was, predictably, dead on arrival) into the campaign instead, things might've been different.

Stupid tacked-on multiplayer... when will these developers figure out that not every game can be Modern Warfare and stop trying? People like single-player games too.

I remember The Darkness...

Hell of a game.

One of the greatest stories in an FPS, right up there with Bioshock.
Thats right, I said it, right up there with Bioshock.

I remember The Darkness...

Hell of a game.

One of the greatest stories in an FPS, right up there with Bioshock.
Thats right, I said it, right up there with Bioshock.

It's worth saying. It really is. I'd go so far as to say it's better personally. It kills me to see this game so overlooked. Hell, you can find it in most bargain bins for a 5 spot these days.

Great article, and a great game. My only pet peeve about it was that the city was almost entirely unpopulated on street level, which took away a bit from the immersion. Otherwise, everything said in the article was entirely true. Bravo.

Great Game. Article describes it well.
One of the most immerse storylines I have ever played.
I really loved finding the 4 horsemen in the hell levels, a little thing I got to enjoy while progressing.

Whilst I still consider The Darkness to be massively over rated, I have to say that that scene really worked to perfection on me, it completely blindsided me and made me one with Jackie for that brief moment.
A shame the story and immersion was down hill from there, not to mention the decidely average gameplay.

Finally, someone finally recognises the fAantastic experience that wa the darkness. Everythging about this game, from the Demonic world based on World War 1 to the Darkness constantlywhispering in your ear. Everything was amazing. The boss fight you won by being nice to your enemy, whilst images of your dead girlfriend flicker in your eyes, It was a truly beautiful game.
Plus, you could summon a funny irate Imp to jump on mobsters chests and stuff a power dril in their mouth.

The Darkness is an amazing game, the story, the gameplay, it just is enjoyable, whatever one of Yahtzee's old blurry reviews said.

I'll tell you what helped me "buy" the world I was in on top of the story, characters and atmosphere... when I looked down, I had a body and my arms were attached to it.

No floating body for Jackie, he's a whole person and you see the world in his head, not as a camera with a gun attached to it.

I loved the story of The Darkness, particularly since I'd read some of the comic beforehand. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get very far in the game, because the game made me motion sick. If I could find a good video Let's Play of the game, I'd gladly watch that so I could properly take in the game's story, rather than having to wrestle with my nausea while I tried to take in the narrative.

Very well described and it all worked well. It's a shame it all goes downhill from there. The story goes into genericville and the gameplay is pretty repetitive. But it did some great things up until then. Which was a shame because the story had me hooked and I was genuinely compelled.

One tiny gameplay feature that was amazing was that the trigger buttons worked like real triggers on the guns. pull them by half and it's half cocked. It made the guns very meaty to fire. I have not seen anything like that since.

I absolutely love this game. Especially the story.

For my money, that scene with Jenny's death just may be the single best gaming moment I have ever played. The raw power and emotion that the scene includes and the flood of emotions that overwhelm you (sadness, anger, vengance, helplessness) has not been matched in any other game that I have played before or since. It is that unbelievably good.

It is such a shame that a so many people passed up the experience. However, I do recall an ending left a lot of things wide open. So Starbreeze, where's that damn sequel!!?

I never played the game but I've read lots of the comic books and loved the story. Seeing that the game used the storyline as a foundation made me happy when reading this article. I really need to go pick up and play this game someday.

I always enjoyed the game, I really liked some of the mechanics they worked out with the darkness and the story was more interesting then alot of games, I really liked the monologs.. I need to play tho it again

I found the narrative more confusing than anything else.
Why is New York almost deserted? Why is the safest part in the game in the New York City subway? Why does he keep making prank calls? Why can't I just get a phone book? Why is the protagonist one third Italian mobster, one third emo kid, and one third Keanu Reavs? (Seriously, listening to him try to threaten someone is hilarious.)Why is everyone so blase about the demon running around? Why does he move so slowly? Why does the Darkness resurrect Johny even when fighting him? Why can't I make a moral choice at the end? Why am I locked in?

Actually, this story telling has ruined the game for me! I really don't want Jenny to die, so the game has been "me at the apartment" for almost a year. I can't bring myself to continue the game. I guess I prefer Jackie in Purgatory above sending him to hell.

I bought this game at Best Buy because it was only $20 and it looked like an interesting FPS. It turned out to have great action, an amazing story, and the end credits are also what first got me interested in Mike Patton's music. So it's great all around. Don't let the Unskippable episode throw you off (even though they did a hilarious job of it).

Playing that game had made me want to read the comic... That urge died eventually...

Now it's back again... Dang...

ALSO: My favorite line in that game has no deep meaning what-so-ever, but I found it to be incredibly dark humored.

That macabre little line got a morbid chuckle outta me...

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

You mean to tell me the shotgun loading simulator has a...PLOT!?!?

I still have this masterpiece for PS3 and sometimes replay it. When I finished the game for the first time, I actually cried for real. Strangely, after second playthrough I've started to associate myself with Darkness more, than with Jackie.
Sadly by now noone play multiplayer, which is pretty atmospheric.

P.S. Darkness will fall... And you know it.

I loved that game when I played it through, it was pretty damn fun. I took a sadistic glee in utilizing the abilities of the darkness... Though the story was awesome. I'm hoping they'll eventually create a sequel.

Great article, and a great game. My only pet peeve about it was that the city was almost entirely unpopulated on street level, which took away a bit from the immersion. Otherwise, everything said in the article was entirely true. Bravo.

Well if you ask me I don't there would be many people around at night do you?

The Darkness was and still is one of my favourite 360 titles, it was one of the first ones I ever bought and the only one I haven't traded in, and I can't see myself ever wanting to. Part of me hopes for a sequel but another part fears it, as is there any way they could make a second game as good as the first? We'll propably never know

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