☆ Review: The Darkside Detective "Welcome to the dark side… bring your kids!" ☆ #GameDev #IndieGame

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The Darkside Detective is a 2D point and click adventure video game from developers Spooky Doorway (a very apt name for the Halloween season) that follows the adventures of Twin Lakes’ finest supernatural police squad, Francis McQueen and his sidekick Dooley.

It is a charming, snappy and surprisingly funny selection of episodes (the game comes with all six episodes included) that I heartily recommend for all the family.

The game consists of six ‘micro-adventures’ (the developers’ own words) that make up case files for the protagonist, Francis McQueen.

Our hero here is a wise-cracking, trilby-sporting, brown-coat wearing sleuth who solves his supernatural mysteries with the help of the keen-but-dim Officer Dooley who follows him as he makes his way around the various crime scenes.

The Darkside Detective is not an intense horror game, the level of spookiness in the game is akin to that of the Ghostbusters films, this, combined with the games’ Monkey Island-esque humour (in that it balances quip-laden comedic dialogue with tongue-in-cheek character and item descriptions with pop culture references) means that it’s a great game to play not only as an adult but also suitable for children. The fact that both generations will find enjoyment in a game that relies on breezy inventory-based puzzle mechanics and comedy is a testament to its solid design.

The graphics are chunky pixel-art single screens in which the character doesn’t tend to move. Clicking on a doorway, for example, would mean that McQueen and Dooley are moved instantly into the next room. As the game requires puzzle-solving in relatively small locations (the first episode/crime scene is set at a house, the second a library and so on) it means that you will be moving between screens regularly as you pick up items that help solve puzzles in other areas and so not needing to watch the characters move around the rooms adds to the swiftness of the game. 

As there isn’t any voice-acting and all dialogue & descriptions are in text form, it gives a nice retro-feel that matches the graphical aesthetics. Personally, I really loved the zoomed-in art-style, it was drawn with enough detail that it was clear what each item and character was whilst also keeping a simplicity that seemed to fit nicely with the games light-hearted tone.

As you play through the episodes you are treated to a surprisingly moody and scene-setting John Carpenter-esque score. I was quite taken aback by how much I enjoyed the music in the game, the eerie synth really worked for me as I accompanied McQueen and Dooley through their banter-filled adventures.

Each episode is quite short and punchy, the first episode acts as a tutorial with a case involving a missing child in a manor house, with a few puzzles that introduce you to the game's mechanics (the standard point-and-click fare, inventory at the top and left-click on locations on the screen, etc.) as you try to work out what has taken place in the house, is it the emotionally distant father? The weeping mother? The ominously-named Nanny McPhiend?

The pace of the game and breezy level of difficulty makes the playing of The Darkside Detective a real pleasure, it’s one of those games that has characters and dialogue that just brings a smile to your face through it’s charm, so much so in fact that after a few episodes I stopped playing as I want to play the remaining episodes with my younger brother as we used to play this kind of game when we lived at home together with our parents (there is a seven-year age gap between us, so I used to read the dialogue out in different voices so he could follow what was happening in the game…I probably won’t do that now……..much).

SummaryIt has that Simon the Sorcerer / Lucas Arts vibe that emanates warmth and gives off the impression that a lot of fun was had during its development...

The game length is around four-five hours long through the six chapters overall, for some this may seem short but the game is priced at £9.99 on steam and so isn’t going to break your wallet (or purse).

The short, sharp individual cases were the right length for me, although I must admit that The Darkside Detective may not be for someone looking for an intensely cerebral challenge or a true ‘horror’ game, for everyone else, I say dive in.

See you on the Darkside...


Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: Spooky Doorway

Review By Britt

1 comment:

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