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Opening with the camping trip from hell, our hero Mr Smith suddenly find his children kidnapped and wife decapitated by unseen forces. Fast forward a few years later and Smith is now working as a private detective still convinced that his children are alive while finding himself drawn into a bigger mystery surrounding more children being kidnapped in the town of Gloomywood.
The game is directed by the godfather of “Survival Horror,” Frédérick Raynal, who practically created the genre with the classic Alone In The Dark, which sadly fell foul of inferior sequels as well as being eclipsed by the likes of Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Raynal meanwhile would go on to work on other classic games such as Little Big Adventure and Toy Commando with this game marking his long awaited return to the horror genre.
Animated with “Gore Cute” visuals, it is unquestionably a retro-styled experience that we get here, which really works for the game, especially one developed by a small independent company like Gloomywood, which initially consisted of Raynal and a small team of four. Despite the retro feel, it’s equally a fully-immersive world that the game takes place in with Smith facing a number of colourful villains as he makes his way through the town of Gloomywood, collecting clues and rescuing kidnapped children.
Despite the opening level taking place inside a creepy fun house were a killer clown is using three of the kidnapped children as unwilling participants in his lion taming act, this is a game surprisingly grounded more in reality than I was initially expecting with several of the thugs you overhear towards the end of this first level discussing a sex trafficking ring in which the kids are potentially being kidnapped for. This of course is a lot more haunting than any kind of boogyman or supernatural element.
Taking place in a world of seemingly permanent darkness, the use of light and shadows play a key role in the game as Smith can use the darkness to hide from potential foes as well to sneak up on them for a stealthy kills, something which can certainly play to your advantage when bullets for your gun are limited and head-on attacks using any of the bats, knives or poles which you can find scattered throughout the levels often feel like more like a shin-kicking contest than any kind of effective combat strategy. Of course you can just avoid combat all together and use stealth or even just lure your enemies into traps there really is no set way to play the game and its down to the player to find the best strategy for them.
The main objective of the game is to find the kidnapped children on each level and lead them to the exit. Of course this is easier said than done as the kids will freak out at the sight of blood or bodies meaning that its often best to try and not block your path for the sake of an easy kill. Thankfully, the children break the usual trend as they tend to not get stuck on corners, which makes escorting them to safety a whole lot easier.
One thing to certainly note about 2Dark and that this is a game of trial-and-error as you will die a lot over the course of each level be it from wrongly-timed attacks or stumbling into an unseen trap, there are certainly plenty of creative ways to screw things up. As such the best tactic is to save often, which in this world is by stopping to have a smoke. During this play-through it seemed impossible to save at any point that would leave you in a stuck position, which was something of a relief considering that if you die you only have the option of restarting from your last save point or restarting the game from the beginning which is certainly an unusual mechanic and it really could have benefited from a chapter selection, which is strangely missing.
A unique indie game and while a far cry from Raynal’s previous games, its great to see him experimenting with the horror genre again, especially when its such a unique vision like the one we get here. If your a horror game fan looking for an old school survival horror, especially with the genre shifting increasingly to more action based titles, this is fun throwback and certainly a fun challenge worth discovering.
Game description: 2Dark is a 2017 indie survival horror game combining stealth mechanics and a retro style about a detective trying to solve the disappearance of a town's missing children.