Just like the two very different forms of Jackie you play as – the one engulfed in The Darkness and the relatively human one – half of the game is there just to provide for some satisfyingly bloody entertainment, while the other moves along a very intriguing but generally limited story. Whilst the two don’t necessarily blend together, both are very well executed in their own right and provide for a somewhat short but totally satisfying psychological first-person shooter.
The Darkness II is a direct sequel to the first game, however prior knowledge is not required. After his girlfriend’s death, Jackie buried The Darkness within himself, swearing never to let its destructive power free again. But after an attack on his mobster family, he is forced to unleash the beast once more to save himself and the people around him. But The Darkness not only reclaims Jackie’s body, it infects his mind also, causing Jackie to question what is real and what is The Darkness causing hallucinations.
The Darkness II Gameplay
When you finally regain the powers of The Darkness, you are greeted by the familiar demonic snakes once more, which provide for some gore-filled entertainment throughout. You can simply slash through opponents in a quick attack, or for some added benefits, pick them up and execute a deadly fatality such as ripping them through the middle by their legs (aptly named ‘Wishbone’) or slicing them into 4 mushy pieces. Objects in the environment can also be used as shields or to throw at enemies. If you haven’t figured by now, this isn’t for the squeamish. You can unlock new abilities and deadly attacks through earning Essence which you collect from killing in creative ways, eating hearts and finding hidden relics.
Between every major action sequence, you are sent back to your mansion to talk to your colleagues and have some peace and quiet before the next gore-fest. Whilst these scenes only seem to be in the game to bring you from and take you to the next enemy-filled room, other scenes in the game (which I am not going to ruin for you) move the story on well, and provide intrigue and mystery to the game, allowing the narrative and characters to develop well.
Apart from a choice handed to you at the very end of the game, The Darkness lI doesn’t really let you interact with the plot. It’s hard to relate to Jackie as a protagonist, or develop an emotional attachment to Jenny, even though Jackie spends the whole game yearning for her. This makes the game more like a riveting film with an interactive element rather than the other way around, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Especially when you have Paul Jenkins as the scriptwriter (the same person who worked on the The Darkness comic book series). There is a great cast of voice actors, from the Sicilian accents of your mobster friends to the dark and demented voice of The Darkness itself.
Your only real weakness is light. Whilst in your dark form, you are susceptible to any form of bright light. Enemies use this against you as some even hoist powerful spotlights onto their shoulders to stun and shoot you down.
At certain points in the game, you can take control of your Darkling: a little gremlin-like creature that runs around with you, distracting enemies and giving you advice on where to go next. Whilst these scenes obviously aim to be about stealth as you climb up pipes and through tunnels, they lack tension and the AI are too dumb to really be of any challenge.
Jackie’s world is represented in a cell-shaded art style that really makes characters pop-out of the rich environment. The Darkness II has ported fine over to the Mac, with just some very minor interlacing issues and an audio glitch that makes speech go just out of time with the characters mouth movements at rare points in the game.
It never ceases to be fun to rip people apart with your jet-black snakes, or to fling sharp fan-blades at enemies, slicing them in two. But the game certainly isn’t a long one, and you may find the campaign ends too soon to really get your money’s worth, especially if you’re looking for a game with some longevity. The Darkness II does come with a multiplayer component. You are able to play the campaign alone, but the difficulty is skewed for more players. Unfortunately, the online community is pretty dead at the moment, so multiplayer is redundant for now.
The Darkness II is an immensely satisfying shooter that’s worth buying just to feel the colossal power of The Darkness course through your veins and into your deadly demon snakes. It’s not the perfect narrative I may have been expecting, nor the longest campaign, but it’s certainly an experience worth enjoying if you have a hunger for bloodlust and a passion for the series.
Publisher: TransGaming Inc.
Genre: Psychological First-Person Shooter
Pros: Ruthlessly satisfying gameplay, great comic book style graphics, unlockable powers, good story.
Cons: No online community, short campaign.