Darkest of Days Preview (PC)
Explore the worst days of human history with Darkest of Days
Darkest of Days is a game with an interesting concept that I have been trying to follow for a few years now. It was on a verge of being cancelled more than once, but it is finally getting a release this fall for PC and Xbox 360 and a demo is now available for everyone to check out.
The game’s concept is original and intriguing, which is what caused me to follow the game in the first place. You are a time traveler, able to revisit the human kind’s darkest hours and take part in grand battles that define our very history. With the demo, we can now finally get some details about how the story is going to work. The demo features a battle during the American Civil war, where you are teleported to save a certain individual. During your briefing, a mysterious female voice and her eyes on the screen tell you what you are, and what you must do. It seems a professor has invented a time machine, but someone has stolen the prototype and is attempting to use the machine to alter history (rather than for scientific research as originally planned for). It is your job to re-visit some grand battles in order to ensure that history continues as it should.
You are first thrown into a short battle during America’s early days, with a group of patriots fighting off an assault by the Natives. As you are hit with an arrow and almost die, a portal opens and you are taken to your base of operations in a futuristic laboratory. From there, some background story is explained and you are sent to the tutorial training level, where you get to practice with a World War II automatic pistol, some grenades, and a cannon. It serves the purpose well of giving you a chance to shoot freely for a bit, getting used to the reloading mini-game. After the tutorial, you are told that two men in different centuries seem to be off-course from their proper place in history, and it’s your job to travel back and restore their location and ensure safety. Your job is to blend in with the troops and to survive, as your main objective is not to alter the course of battle, but to save a certain individual. After the teleport, you pick up your musket and head off with the troops to the big field where the battle takes place. As you get there, an odd thing happens as you lose control of your movement, and instead can only look around. You then start advancing with the troops towards the enemy, and it takes a few minutes before you regain control. This feels odd, but I can understand that the developers are trying to make you feel like a grand part of battle, rather than have you run around and possibly miss the scripted climax. As you battle then, the enemy seems to be winning, so your friend from the future returns and to “help even the odds” hands you a modern automatic rifle. Things now become wildly fun as your spray your enemy down while they take a long time to reload their muskets. However, something doesn’t feel right as it seems neither your allies nor enemies say a word regarding this futuristic weapon. They simply continue yelling and shooting you, rather than being at least surprised at what you’re holding.
The demo actually ends as you are close to extracting the important history man, but another mysterious teleporter appears with three high-tech enemies and they come right after you. So your friend from the future suggests you make a run for it to your own teleporter, leaving the man you were supposed to save behind for “a later time”. It’s an intriguing scenario, and certainly sets up an interesting alternate history with a world of possobilites.
There are not many complaints regarding gameplay, except perhaps for losing control of your character for a bit, and the fact that nobody is surprised to see you firing off rounds of automatic ammunition into the enemy. The graphics are not all that great looking, but it’s the company’s own engine and it does the job, so again little to complain about there. The sound is authentic, and soundtrack exciting. The game also features PhysX support, but none of it is showcased in the demo except for body ragdolls.The game does not look all that great, but I had trouble maxing out the settings with AA being set to anything higher than 4x (out of 16x possible) with my 8800GTX, and keeping framerates playable. This could very well be solved in the final product though.
Darkest of Days sets up an interesting concept, and if done correctly, could be a very fun single player experience. The game looks average, but with a $20 below usual retail price, it might just be a sleeper hit if it finds the correct audience.
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