Developer: Andrew Russell
One of the things I like about Xbox Live Indie Games is that every now and then a game will pop up that tries something new or takes a different look at a familiar genre. Dark is one of those games; it takes a fairly standard genre like 2D platforming and then turns it upside down. Or more accurately, it turns off the lights.
In the game you control a quadrilateral shape that you never see very clearly, much like the name suggests the game is very dark. As in, there’s very little light. That seems like it might spell disaster for a game that requires jumping over gaps, but the lighting there is works well enough to get a grasp on the area around the character. It’s not just the lighting that works against the platform jumping in the game, the actual jumping is too floaty and there are times where you can get stuck for a second on objects. There are some interesting puzzles to solve, but nothing that takes too long to figure out and if you play platform games a lot the puzzles will seem a little too familiar.
However I liked Dark. The interesting lighting and lack thereof gives the whole things a creepy tone and the background piano music perfected the setting. While there is no real story the lighting and music add a lot to the atmosphere. There are a lot of games that try to be artistic, but to me Dark pulls it off where a lot of ‘art’ games fail. Even though it’s not an amazing game it sort of sinks in and gets to you, and there’s a part at the end where you solve a puzzle and the lighting changes in a way that reveals something grander…which was just cool.
The big problem is that the game is short. The game took me 20 minutes to complete the first time I played. Once you play there’s no real reason to replay the game, there’s no reward for collecting all the shiny sprites from the game or any incentive to. There’s no score or goal. In many ways the game is almost like a proposal for a bigger, better game. Like a sample script for a movie or book, Dark is like a presentation for a better game. I can see a game being created from the ideas presented here. A platform game where the puzzles light up other areas in unexpected ways? I can see that.
Final Thoughts: At 80 points, I can recommend spending a dollar on Dark. It’s short, the jumping is floaty, and the puzzles aren’t very difficult. But the interesting visual take on the genre and the haunting audio makes Dark an experience worth trying, and presents an idea for a larger game that I hope will someday be made.