2Dark Review
2Dark Review
Although the game has great potential, the sloppy implementation and bad design choices almost completely ruin the experience
Posted: 06/23/17 | Category: Review | Developer: Gloomywood (concept by Frédérick Raynal [Alone in the Dark]) | Publisher: BigBen Interactive | Platform: Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox one

Genre: Survival horror/stealth
Release date: March 10, 2017

2Dark is a recent release from Gloomywood, featuring a very violent and disturbing story, retro graphics and stealth-driven gameplay. Looking at these features, it is no wonder why the game was highly anticipated by the community; dark and gloomy settings are always popular in this genre. Unfortunately, 2Dark fails to meet the expectations. Although the game has great potential, the sloppy implementation and bad design choices almost completely ruin the experience.

Let's start with the good bits: the main setting and story are amazing. The game starts with you witnessing the death of your wife and kidnapping of your children. I cannot think of a better way to kick off a revenge-driven horror story! Later, it is revealed that there is actually a ring of kidnappers in the city and that children disappear frequently.

Our protagonist, Smith, is now on a fully dedicated mission to catch the kidnappers and save as many kids as he can in the process. The story is simple, yet effective. It is refreshing to see a horror adventure setup in a completely realistic setting, without resorting to any supernatural elements. I think kidnapping and murder of children set up a much more terrifying plot compared to a ghost or zombie story. Kudos to the writers for choosing a controversial topic for the game.

The graphics are in retro style with an isometric point of view. One might think that retro/pixelated graphics could hinder the atmosphere of a game with such a gory and depressing story; however, I do not think this is the case here. Everything looks very dark and gloomy, which creates the perfect mood for this kind of adventure. I also like that the game world is very dynamic. You see a lot of movement around; sometimes it is cats and rats and sometimes it is the TV in the background. This extra animation provides life to an otherwise depressing world. Later, a lot of NPCs join the game (children you need to save and villains you need to evade), making the environment very dynamic. Overall, I like the visual direction of the game, except the fact that it gets literally too dark (no pun intended) in some places. 

Unfortunately, plot and graphics are the only positive things I can say about this game. Everything else, especially the interface and gameplay, are so badly executed it makes me wonder if the beta testing phase was rushed.

Let’s start with the interface and controls. Most of the actions in the game require quick and precise manipulation of inventory items (putting batteries into the flashlight, lighting up your torch etc.). As a result, the inventory takes up a large portion of the left edge of your screen. In hindsight, this appears to be good design. 

However, you quickly accumulate a lot of items and it becomes tiresome to quickly combine them in the heat of the moment. I can’t recall how many times I was killed because I couldn’t quickly reload my gun.

The controls suffer from the same sloppy implementation; 30% of the time, I ended up somewhere I didn’t intend to go. In a standard adventure this might not be a huge problem, but in this game there are traps everywhere. And due to a poor control scheme, it is very easy to get smashed into pieces mistakenly.

The gameplay is a hybrid of point-&-click adventure and stealth. However, adventure elements are almost non-existent, and other than some simple inventory puzzles, there is not much challenge in the game.

Most of the game focuses on evading the enemies and saving the children. 2Dark tries to keep the stealth mechanics as simple as possible; unfortunately, this does not translate into fun gameplay. Most of the environments are very dense and there are not many places to hide. I am usually good at these types of games and became quickly tired of getting killed/caught over and over again.

Stealth is fun when it is fair and you have freedom to combine different tactics. Stealth in 2Dark is not fun, it is frustrating. On top of that you also need to perform some crowd control to save the children and take them to a safe place. Again, this is not fun at all; most of the time children either get lost or blow your cover, which further adds to the frustration.

Maybe if the game had a decent quicksave system, poor stealth mechanics could have been tolerated up to a point, but designers managed to get the save system wrong too. In order to save your progress, you need to light a cigarette from your inventory and wait for a couple of seconds while Smith smokes. Thus, even saving your game frequently is a disengaging experience in 2Dark.

I wanted to like 2Dark really badly just for the sake of its dark and disturbing setting, but I ended up getting confused and frustrated with the game most of the time. I am hoping that Gloomywood will improve the gameplay in their further releases.

Grade: C-
Dark and disturbing story, dynamic game environment
- Clunky interface and controls, frustrating stealth mechanics, very easy to get killed, bad save system


System Requirements
MINIMUM Windows:
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel Core i3-530 2.93 GHz
Memory: 2 
Graphics: Graphic card 512 MB GeForce GT 9800/Radeon HD 4870 or better
Direct X: Version 9.0c
Storage: 1 GB free HDD space
Specials from Digital Download
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