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Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Developer: Realmforge Studios
Release Date: July 9, 2013 (US), July 5, 2013 (EU)


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Xbox 360 Preview - 'Dark'

by Erik "NekoIncardine" Ottosen on June 24, 2013 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Dark is a third-person stealth-action game that puts players in the role of a vampire out to discover the secrets of the mysterious global GeoForge Corporation.

Kalypso is mostly known in North America for strategic action titles with a twist, like Tropico. It was a surprise to see that for E3 2013, the one game it focused on was a stealth/action game developed by Realmforge Studios, who is mostly known for quirky simulation and strategy games in Europe. Dark represents a solid change of form for both companies, and the time I had with it showed a game with potential.

Dark casts the character as Eric Bane, a dude who just woke up in a club bathroom with a serious headache. As an agent of the undead-hunting government division, MI7, he's one of the people most likely to be rendered jobless were he to, say, become a vampire. And he apparently did. As if that weren't bad enough, he also needs to drink the blood of an elder vampire within a day or two, or he becomes a ravening ghoul. MI7 is oddly focused on capturing them lately, and Eric might have something to do with that.

Stylistically, the game is very "Blade" in how it handles its vampires. It's stylish to an extent, but it's also very brutal. Vampires are given a nasty weakness to ultraviolet light, but they're not immune to simple bullets. The art style's cel-shaded tone and still frames-based cut scene scheme captures this, along with the graffiti-laden setting.

The levels are classic stealth action, except for the twist that Eric uses his vampiric powers in lieu of gadgets. He does have an ordinary Bluetooth headset, which lets vampire Rose serve as a Cortana figure. His most basic powers include a short-range teleport, melee instant kills, blood draining, and blood vision, which lets him see opponents through walls. He can also enhance and develop a total of 16 different powers, some of which run on blood points, which are acquired by — well, have a guess.

The stealth action is sufficiently developed and designed to resemble the first Metal Gear Solid or early Syphon Filter games more than the newer shooting-focused titles. While Eric's powers can let him get out of sticky situations, he stands almost no chance in a straight firefight, and he needs to use his tools to sneak around enemies, some of whom are immune to certain types of attack. This will feel more difficult for players who are used to stealth games where they can tear through tons of enemies.

The game's six levels each last about an hour and include several urban environments, including a jungle biodome to mix things up. There are also subgoals in place if you're a completionist.

Dark should be a very neat game when it comes out in early July — if for no other reason than because it hearkens back to the wonderful days before "Twilight" ruined vampire fiction. This might be the start of making vampires cool in video games again. Dark features several very neat modern touches and it's recommended for players who are looking for a stealth-centric challenge straight out of the '90s.

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