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Aug 03 2010

Darkness Within 2: The Dark Lineage Review

Darkness Within 2: The Dark Lineage

I recently had the privilege of reviewing an incredible PC adventure horror game. Developed by Zoetrope Interactive, Darkness Within 2: The Dark Lineage is simply an amazing game. But before I get into specifics, let me express my kudos for the success of this small independent development team. Surprisingly, such an intriguing game manages to be created by a three person development team operating out of Istanbul, Turkey. Zoetrope state: “Our mission is to develop quality games that gamers can feel and enjoy,” and Darkness Within 2: The Dark Lineage is no exception to this pledge.

I have always been a huge fan of survival horror games such as the Resident Evil and Silent Hill franchises, so it was very refreshing to play a PC game which managed to capture the horrific intensity of those respective franchises. Before the game even begins, atmosphere is established by the brilliant music score of the title screen. One of the greatest strength of Darkness within 2: The Dark Lineage is its amazing use of atmospheric music and ambient tones. Whether it is the chilling musical scores or something as simple as the added creaks and footstep effects, the various sounds of this game present the perfect package of claustrophobia and fear. This is not to say that there aren’t a handful of beautiful 3D environments to explore.

The H.P. Lovecraft inspired game lets the player explore a world of mystery, intrigue, insanity, and horror, in a vast array of stunning environments. The main hub of the game is the small neglected town of Arkhamend, an obvious allusion to the Lovecraft’s fictional Arkham. Though the town of Arkhamend only contains a book store, the stereotypical town lunatic, and a small inn, it still manages to capture the isolating oppression one would expect from a forgotten town plagued within mystery. The other environments include an isolated cabin in the snowy woods, underground catacombs, an abandoned nursing home, and a blood chilling Victorian mansion. Unfortunately, some of the environments seem too small and are centred around the games mysterious puzzles, but the variety is quite pleasing. The graphics of these environments are very pleasing for a PC game, but it is the art style and art direction which really allow emersion into the game. Any game can claim to have awesome graphics, but Darkness Within 2: The Dark Lineage excels at combining the art style of classic horror with dynamic shadow and lighting effect, which truly brings the terror to life. There were moments in the game when I was so frantic in my search for clues and to simply survive this mystery that I myself felt that the horrors of Lovecraft were coming to devour me. The brilliant part is that I never encountered a single hostile creature, and yet the game kept me captivated by its terror.

Despite all of its strength, like any game, this one has its share of weaknesses. Initially the controls take some time to get use to and it is hard not to feel like Alice in wonderland when trying to open low drawers search high shelves. There is also an interaction system which allows users to pickup, push and pull items, but it is far from perfect. There were times when I would pick up a box or box and it would just be stuck floating around in my hands. I honestly took me away from the game when I had to press every button and click combination just to free my hands. There were also incredibly fun moments where I would abuse this system by trashing various rooms. Nothing is more fun the pushing over drawers, beds and chairs. These, however, are silly quips.

The game is a quick terror packed eight hours and has tons of easter eggs, secrets, and hidden clues beyond the bare minimal needed to beat the game. Like a classic Resident Evil, there are tons of letters and text to expand upon the plot and character of the game. It is really hard to do anything but love a game which actually creates a sense of terror when so many of today’s popular horror games have become action games and movies. At its best, Darkness Within 2: The Dark Legacy was one of the few recent games to succeed at both captivating my attention and terrifying me, and that is why I give this game a 4.5 out of 5 stars. If H.P. Lovecraft could have played this game, he definitely would have been impressed by it terrifying atmosphere.

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  1. Darkness Within 2 « TENTACLII :: an occasional Lovecraft blog

    […] In Unnamable on 4 August 2010 at 10:53 am Healfbeard’s HUD has a new long review of the game Darkness Within 2: the Dark Lineage (PC, May 2010)… “The H.P. Lovecraft inspired game lets the player explore a world of […]

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