The Darkness is a horror-themed first-person shooter based on some comic book I've never heard of. The game is by the delightfully-named Starbreeze Studios, whose most notable previous title would be The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, in which players piloted a claymation Vin Diesel in his ongoing quest to masturbate himself raw in the faces of audiences worldwide.
Anyway, the Darkness demo starts with the hero, Jackie, in the back of a car being driven by some of his Italian mobster friends, who have apparently abandoned the Mafia's pretence of respectability in order to drive recklessly through the streets at full speed like a pair of gibbery twats. In no time at all, the police find something objectionable about this behaviour and pursue them, prompting a pitched high-speed exchange of gunfire. Jackie, who looks for all the world like a cross between Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro, and Morticia Addams, is handed a shotgun to join in the fun, but the device seems to confuse him, and he sits loading shells into it so slowly and carefully, you'd think he was assembling a ship in a bottle.
Meanwhile, the car is swerving wildly back and forth and bullets are whizzing through the air, and by the time Jackie figures out which end of the gun is which, an almighty crash hurls him from the vehicle and into the actual game. He awakens in a cemetery, where we are told through some shitty exposition that his Mafia boss uncle has betrayed him and sent some hitmen to make him dead, presumably because he's sick of having to babysit the gormless fuckwit, something I could fully sympathise with through the subsequent gunfight. The clunky PS3 controls, combined with Jackie's utter lack of survival instinct, meant my top speed was somewhere in the region of slow walking pace while hitmen ran around popping caps in my dopey arse.
Fortunately, at more or less this point, the titular "Darkness" enters the fray, and a bunch of giant liquorice Twizzlers sprout from Jackie's spine. Our hero is ostensibly possessed by some ancient, all-powerful demonic force, which looks very scary but did absolutely bugger all to assist as I ran around the cemetery for half an hour, trying to find the way out. My only usable darkness power at that point was something that allowed me to extrude one of the liquorice Twizzlers to explore tight spaces, and I spent most of the time fruitlessly trying to find a way to make it penetrate a flimsy iron gate, before discovering that what I was supposed to do was go back to an easily-missed white spot on the ground, use it to summon an evil imp, and instruct it to move a thoughtlessly-parked car out of the way of one of the cemetery entrances. Let me just reiterate that: the game literally has me summon a multi-fanged, beclawed monstrosity from the depths of Hell, not so I can make it enslave the innocent or lay waste to all worldly nations, but so I that can enlist it as my own personal breakdown service.
I couldn't play the game for much longer because a short time later, I found myself stuck outside another locked gate and no idea of how to proceed. The game's only hint to what to do was that I had just unlocked a new Darkness power that allowed me to pick up heavy objects. I tried throwing a car at the sealed gates, but lacking a throw button, all I could do was rub it against the metalwork. Then I had the brainwave of setting up a pile of crap to form a staircase to get up onto a nearby roof, but the moment I got up there, I ran headlong into an invisible wall because apparently I wasn't supposed to be doing that. I took out my frustrations out on a nearby hobo before saying "fuck this shit" and doing something else.
The Darkness has been getting some pretty good reviews all over the place that use phrases like "brilliant storytelling" and "top-notch presentation" which give me cause to hesitate before I use phrases like "monstrous pile of shit." Most of my problem was with the horrible controls, and the mouse-and-keyboard interface would swiftly fix that. And maybe after the rocky beginning, the game is nothing short of fan-dabby-babulous, but the demo's job was to make me want to buy the full version, and in that regard, it's a big, dark, gothy failure. Personally, at this point, I'd only consider buying the full version of The Darkness if it came down to budget price... And they threw in another, better game... And some cake... And Belgium.
Pretty much everything by Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw
"Supersition" by Stevie Wonder
"Section 12 (Hold Me Now)" by The Polyphonic Spree
Used without Permission (sorry)
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