In the last few years, the modern stealth sub-genre of adventure games hasn't seen anything new. With Splinter Cell and the upcoming Metal Gear spin-offgoing the action route, it seems that stealth fans have nothing to look forward to outside of the Assassin's Creed franchise. Kalypso Media seeks to change this with Dark, an upcoming stealth game that blends the genre with something that seems to always be in style: vampires.
The story is familiar but contains a twist. You play the role of Eric Bane, a newly converted vampire who has no idea how this transformation came to pass. Waking up in a nightclub, you find yourself employed by Rose, a fellow vampire who needs your help dealing with all sorts of trouble. Instead of embracing your newfound status, however, you find yourself wanting to become human again. Thus begins your quest to rid yourself of your vampirism as quickly as possible.
The basics of stealth quickly come into play. Your vampire status makes you strong but not completely impervious to attacks, so it's best if you sneak around in the shadows. You can hide behind just about anything and quickly dash from one cover spot to another to remain unseen. All of your enemy takedowns are silent, and you can drag away bodies to prevent detection or leave them out to bait the enemy toward you or distract them while you move somewhere else. Should you be discovered, you have time to hide in hopes that the enemy calls off the search and things can go back to normal.
Blessed with vampire abilities, you're able to do a decent amount of things. In the demo levels that we saw, you can disappear in a puff of smoke and reappear in front of your victim for an attack. You can also use that same puff to quickly warp from one area to another for better sneaking, and you can drain the blood from victims to replenish your blood points. These blood points are important, as they act as both a shield for attacks and points that can be spent performing more advanced attacks and abilities. One interesting thing in place for some of these abilities is a cooldown system. In the demo, we saw that you can warp around quickly if you wish, but you'll start burning off blood points if you do this instead of waiting around for the cooldown period to expire.
Regarding combat, your character refuses to carry any weapons, and despite the enemies who have everything from melee weapons to guns, he'll never pick them up. He'll also never resort to hand-to-hand combat unless he's in range, and even then, it'll only be to perform his finishing move. The lack of pure combat forces you to think strictly about being stealthy and taking out people while unseen, but those who are hoping to fight their way out of a situation, even briefly, will be taken aback.
Though Dark is a stealth action game first, there are some RPG elements present. You have an experience system that'll let you upgrade different offensive and defensive powers as you level up. The range is pretty vast, though we were told that it would be impossible to explore every power in one playthrough. There's also a conversation wheel in place whenever you talk to someone important. Those looking for branching paths in the story will be disappointed to learn that the paths are only used to uncover more background about the characters and story; the game only contains one ending.
Graphically, the game takes on a slightly muted cel-shaded style. At first glance, it looks just like any other title. Take a closer look, and you'll notice the that the color palette is more vivid than usual, and there are slight black lines traced over every character and the environment. Since the build is still pre-alpha, it'll be interesting to see what the final product looks like.
Dark is shaping up to be an intriguing game that blends both vampire mythos and stealth action. The lack of combat options could force players to obey the strict rules of stealth, but it could also be a gamble because some gamers want to go around with guns blazing and fists flying. This is certainly a game to keep an eye on as we get close to its 2013 release date.
More articles about Dark