2Dark throws in a little bit of everything to give players a unique experience, as they’re tasked with the job of saving children from the grips of crazy psychopaths out to kill. There are elements of stealth, moments of horror, along with some puzzles you’ll need to complete in order to progress to the next phase. It’s also developed by the pioneer of the survival horror genre, Frédérick Raynal, the very same man who brought us the very heart racing Alone in the Dark franchise. If you enjoy a lot of crazy surprises while tackling tough scenarios such as figuring out how to take out a room full of enemies and using your gut feeling to guide you, then 2Dark will certainly be a treat for you.
What to Expect
2Dark comes with a lot of weird moments both of sheer laughter but also those of fear because you’re a young detective whose mission is to save children from these bloodthirsty psychopaths, all of whom are freakish in nature. You’ll be doing a lot of traversing around the many levels trying to uncover evidence surrounding each killer, while also desperately wandering around in hopes to find some batteries for your flashlight. Deadly traps are placed in the most unexpected of places, and so you’ll often find yourself dying a lot more in the beginning due to this. For that reason, much of your alertness is always at a high not just for these traps, but also not arousing suspicion from the enemies that lurk around every stage.
2Dark stars a young and ambitious former detective by the name of Mr. Smith who’s destined to track down and take these child abductors, in order to seek justice not only for himself but for the entire city of Gloomywood. His wife had been brutally murdered and his children taken from him, and so these missions are more a personal vendetta than anything, but Mr. Smith wants to ensure that no other family must suffer under these circumstances.
“Something’s missing here.”
When you boot up 2Dark you’re greeted with a pretty basic interface, and while that’s generally ok at times it doesn’t seem to suffice here. The options feel very limited in terms of what can be altered such as the game resolution, which only gives you the choice of full screen or this medium sized screen. That kind of turned us off because most games these days allow you to pick a specific resolution that perhaps suits your playing appetite, but in the case of 2Dark it totally avoids that option altogether. So the only thing that would suffice was to manually drag the window to the size we felt was adequate enough to play, and that was kind of a turn-off. In an industry that’s rapidly evolving and providing more accommodation to players pertaining to performance changes, 2Dark seems to have taken 2 steps back and it feels barren which is quite unfortunate coming from the very same gentleman who brought us a brilliantly crafted horror classic Alone in the Dark.
Fortunately, though, the game doesn’t require any sort of powerhouse PC to enjoy the experience which perhaps is the reason why many of those options were opted out. Be that as it may, having those options there should be a standard because you just never know what the consumer’s setup is.
So with that out of the way, we should tell you more about the gameplay, which is not terrible nor great but falls somewhere in between depending on your preference. Of course, if you’ve already pre-ordered or purchased the game we can assume you’re clearly excited for 2Dark’s chilling experience. For those who are still on the fence on whether to pick this one up, however, it’s hard to fully commit to saying yes but we don’t want to straight out say no either.
It’s a very mixed bag 2Dark and while we had our moments of excitement with sneaking up on enemies and disposing of these sick criminals, it often felt very primitive and more could’ve been implemented to at least give the game more beef. We can certainly see that the team behind 2Dark wanted to capture this retro feel pertaining to the character and level designs, and for that very reason it didn’t really feel horror-esque but more of a vaporwave version of Hotline Miami 2. We say Hotline Miami 2 because both games are played from a top-down perspective where you have to enter rooms and cleverly take out the enemy without alerting anyone else, grabbing whatever items you can to ensure survival at all costs.
2Dark feels like that but as we said it’s a lot slower since it encourages you to really be patient and come up with solutions on the fly, instead of going guns ablazing (which you can do to be honest, just expect a lot of deaths). On a brighter note we did certainly enjoy the stealth feature a lot because it added a new element of approach, and really promoted the use of dark spaces to lure your enemies closer to knock them out with whatever blunt object you have in your inventory. Of course, you could simply arm yourself with a German Luger and deal with the problem immediately, which may come in handy quite frequently, to be honest. There will be moments where a number of children are trapped in a room with an armed enemy and so you’ll have no choice but to pull out your handgun and serve justice the old fashioned way, but then that takes away from the stealth experience and it becomes just another shooting spree.
So while these elements are thrown into the fray to encourage players to sneak around and play the mission impossible role, you’ll need to arouse some attention in order to move onto the next objective. Now speaking of objectives, they’re very simple since all you really need to do in each stage is save the children and collect a handful of evidence that you can use to prosecute the enemy with. The only problem is that 2Dark forces you to collect all of the evidence which felt really unsettling because it defeated the whole purpose of grabbing the kids and getting out as swiftly and efficiently as you can. It would’ve been cool if we were able to leave something behind because then it would give us more incentive to come back to the mission at some other point, and try our hands at new methods of approach. However, that wasn’t the case and it felt like we were being spoonfed in some way as opposed to really challenging us to use our sound judgment to progress through the game.
Maybe 2Dark’s intent is to invite in new players to the horror genre, we don’t know, but it certainly felt a too easy at times to just make our way through each stage and not worry about whether we forgot something, be that a child or a piece of important evidence. This brings us to the inventory which again felt unfitting in the sense that, this being marketed as a horror stealth adventure game should limit you to a number of items one could carry. Mr. Smith could carry around a number of items that come with pre-made keyboard shortcuts, which to be honest was very useful a lot of the time, but the fact that everything was easily attainable really made us scratch our head a little.
Some weapons felt more overpowered than others such as the machine gun versus a crowbar for example, so if let’s say you were low on ammo with your handgun and needed to rely on the crowbar that enemy would deal with you very quickly. Or in the case of the enemy vs Mr. Smith, if we had the more powerful arsenal it was one sided. Either way, some weapons, while they do come with their significant benefits, often fall to the wayside when you have to use them in battle at some point. Furthermore, with so many items in your inventory, there’s just so many things to choose from that you often just stick to that one tool for most of the mission, so other weapons are ignored.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
We did like the overall progression of difficulty in the game as you continue to take down these wild criminals and seek redemption, but a lot of holes needed to be closed up in order to make this a more concrete title. 2Dark, as we stated earlier, is by no means a terrible game, but it certainly isn’t amazing either. There will be great times and there will be times of annoyance, but it’s just not a consistently enjoyable experience at least in our eyes. The tutorial system felt a little dry and the lack of a target system for dealing with enemies became cumbersome after a while. Of course, you could place your mouse over the enemy to highlight and confirm you’ll hit them, but more efforts would have been made in that area for more concise kills.
2Dark will certainly entice those who are truly fans of Frédérick Raynal’s work, but for those who aren’t too familiar may need to just take a little time to think things over before committing. We played using the mouse and keyboard which we felt was more responsive, but if you feel the urge to play using a controller it doesn’t really take away from the experience too much. Surely it feels a little more rigid than the free flowing mouse and keyboard, but it doesn’t destroy the gameplay.
Simple map design.
We liked the retro approach to the graphics.
The game is long enough to be satisfactory at best.
The stealth approach was well done.
Full controller support on Steam.
The experience felt a little too easy at times.
Some weapons seldom get used.
Lacking tutorial system.
Severely lacking options to personalize the game.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Is 2Dark worth a buy? Certainly, if this is your type of genre and you enjoy the retro style approach to gameplay. However, if this isn’t something you’ve tampered with before, then dishing out the cash to grab it may require some thinking beforehand. We had our moments with 2Dark and are glad to see that Frédérick Raynal is trying his hand at something new, so for that, we can appreciate it. Would we play it again? Probably not, but it certainly did keep us relatively entertained for the time that it did and perhaps that’s what matters most. We hope you found our review to be insightful and unbiased, as that is our objective at all times. When 2Dark releases March 10th on steam, be sure to grab it if you’re interested and let us know what you thought of it in the comments section below!
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!