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Into The Dark Review (PC)

Ryan McDonagh goes from the light….

In my relatively short time writing for CalmDownTom I have been lucky enough to have only reviewed good games, but sadly my streak of luck has now come to an end. Enter “Into the Dark” developed by Homegrown Games. Based on an entry for an FPS Creator competition, “Into the Dark” casts the player as Peter O’ Brannon, a detective who is sent to investigate the death of an elderly man in New England. Upon arriving at his cabin, Peter realises that all is not right and something sinister is going on. Sound interesting? I can assure you it really isn’t.

“Into the Dark” makes a poor first impression. Upon loading the game up I was greeted with ultra-low quality artwork and a surprisingly small amount of menu options. I could start a new game, load a previous game or exit to the desktop. The game features absolutely no configuration options. It’s all about the gameplay though, right?

The first level sees Peter enter the old man’s cabin to search for clues about what has happened to him; at this point – if I had bought the game myself buyer’s remorse would be setting in. Peter’s movement is clunky and intolerably slow, even when running. Visually the game is extremely dated, with low resolution textures, ugly lighting and shading. These are not the games only problems.

The voice acting for the game is beyond awful. Besides the fact that it is near impossible to hear what is being said, it sounds as if the dialogue was recorded on an old mobile phone. I found this to be irritating as it made it nearly impossible to follow the story.

Gameplay consists of exploring bland locations, completing bland objectives and killing bland enemies. Most of my playtime involved trying to find a way to get past an obstacle, such as a locked door. Handy on-screen cues give clues about how to proceed. This is where most of my frustration with the game lies. In order to complete the games puzzles, you often have to go back to rooms you have already explored to find that objects have magically spawned there. When you finally get past the obstacle, the game is kind enough to spawn an enemy directly behind you. This happens often, is extremely irritating and leads to unfair deaths – the game actually closes to the desktop when you die.

Combat consists of walking backwards and firing as fast as possible at enemies flailing their arms around wildly. It is not fun. Guns don’t have any “oomph” to them. You might as well be firing a peashooter given that it takes a clip of ammo to take down one of the magically-spawning-mutant-bastards. Half of the time when you enter a room said mutants will just stand there and do nothing. The AI is piss-poor.

Puzzles in the game consist of trying to fix something that is broken. They are nonsensical and boil down to boring fetch quests. At one point I fixed a broken fuse box using a can of cola, a feat not even MacGyver himself could accomplish.

Aside from the gameplay there are severe technical issues; repeated crashes riddle the “Into the Dark”. Loading up a saved game, starting a new level and even just doing nothing: all of them can cause crashes. This game is not stable. Even on a high end desktop the game struggles to maintain a decent frame-rate, although I suspect these problems are due to the use of FPS Creator.

“Homegrown Games” have failed to craft an enjoyable action-horror experience. Poor controls coupled with infuriating design choices and antiquated visuals will ensure that only the hard-core will ever see its final act. The scariest thing about this game is the asking price. It is currently listed at £15 on some websites. For a game (poorly) made in FPS Creator I think the price is more than a little optimistic. I implore you to take your hard-earned money elsewhere. Buying trash like this signals that the market wants more, and I just can’t bring myself to play crap on a regular basis.


3 magically-spawning-mutant-bastards out of 10

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