2Dark has a lot of pedigree surrounding it. Developed by Frederick Raynal, the creator of Alone in the Dark, 2Dark is his return to the horror genre. While the story holds promise, this is less of a frightening tale and more of a frustrating one.
On the Case:
The story of the game follows a former detective whose wife is killed and children are abducted one day. He decides to move to the town of GloomyWood which is full of murderers, rapists and more, to wage a one man war against the criminals.
The game follows his investigation into the town and the deranged people who have been kidnapping children. Each level of the game takes place in a set environment where you’ll have to rescue the children.
While you start each level with your gun, stealth is the name of the game. Characters can either hear your footsteps and/or see you when you’re in direct light. The main goal of each level is to find the missing children and lead them back to the start. The challenge is figuring out how to get around the enemies while making sure that the children can survive.
Puzzle solving is about getting around the enemies and environmental obstacles standing in your way. The only way to save your progress is to have a cigarette which you can do at any time. Within each level there is a main serial killer stalking around. You are free to fight them, avoid them, or figure out a way to kill them easily.
The best part of 2Dark would be the story and how twisted things get. Despite the 2D graphics, this game deals with some very dark themes; almost on par with Condemned. However, there are problems with everything that has to do with playing the game.
Frustration in the Dark:
2Dark’s gameplay quite frankly is not refined at all. From combat, stealth and interaction, all of it doesn’t work well. Beyond just the gameplay, there were noticeable bugs getting in the way.
With combat, I noticed massive performance issues while swinging a weapon. Despite getting the first hit, enemies were able to easily stunlocked me to death. There is a stealth attack that you can make from behind, but unless it kills the enemy in a single hit, they’re going to retaliate.
Speaking of stealth, the stealth mechanics are the classic trial and error frustration of older games. Enemies can hear you walking through walls and the “stealth key” makes you move slower than needed not to make footsteps. The game gives the option of throwing candies as a mean of distracting enemies, but this can actually break their patrol pattern.
Watching enemies move around, their movement is very erratic. There were cases where enemies would turn around for no reason while moving down a corridor. I had cases where enemies instinctively knew where I was while I was hiding after being detected, despite not seeing me enter that area. Once you’re caught, it’s better to simply reload your save than deal with the rampaging enemy.
The levels were designed to be open areas tasking you to figure out the best way through them. However, the darkness makes it very hard to see where items were at; compounded by the low quality graphics.
This is a game where vital items needed to progress are hidden in areas that you wouldn’t know if you weren’t already looking there. To make matters worse, there are plenty of death traps set up to catch unassuming players off guard.
And yes, every level turns into an escort mission of leading the children back to the start. Some enemies will go after the children while others just ignore them.
Finding the Light:
I wanted to like 2Dark more than I did. The story kept me interested until the end, but it was a constant battle with the gameplay. There is an okay idea here, but the gameplay just doesn’t work. So much of the mechanics and design are things that you don’t build a complete experience around.
While the bugs are annoying to deal with, the problems with 2Dark are much deeper in the design. Sadly, this is not going to be the spiritual successor of Alone in the Dark or return of the survival horror genre.
For more on the game, you can watch my plays of all the levels in the game starting with the first: