Darkest of Days Review (PC)
Find out if you should take part in the darkest days of human history
You can carry one primary and secondary weapon with you at all times, and you are free to pick up another type of weapon on the battlefield, though it’s usually unnecessary as ammo is plentiful and there are no real differences between the weapons. In your third item slot, you have chasers- these little balls are a future technology which allows you to knock out certain individuals in order to take them out of the battle without killing them. You will encounter many such enemies, which must remain alive for their apparent historical relevance – though you never get details as to who these folks are. If you run out of chasers (you only get 5 per level) you can always simply knock the enemy out or shoot them in the leg/shoulder. These enemies will have a blue aura around them, so they are easily spotted in battle and chasers will only attach themselves to these guys, not regular soldiers. There are quite a few escort missions as well, where the person which must stay alive is highlighted in orange. Most of the game is set in large maps, which you will have to walk across at least once to finish the level. What’s disappointing here is that often, at the end of your trip, you will not even find the historical person you are trying to save, instead this mission was apparently just to “keep the events timeline in tact”, which often feels like a misleading waste of effort on your part.
As mentioned at the beginning of this review, the game features an all-new Marmoset engine, and in fact was meant to be a demonstration of the engine at first, before being developed into a full retail title. While more competition in the game engine world is always welcome (seeing the Unreal Engine is starting to get old), I can’t say that the engine is totally ready. The graphics do not look all that impressive, aside from the water, everything looks a bit cartoonish and animations could use a lot more work. Textures are passable, and there is a lot of debris that blows across the screen, but it’s all a distraction from the low resolution rock and grass texture. The engine does have its moments though: the level maps are rather huge, and at times there are upwards of 100 NPCs running around a field, taking cover and shooting at one another. The AI isn’t particularly bright, but they do an ok job for such a large amount of calculation required. Another huge bonus of the engine are the extremely fast loading times. It takes just seconds to get into the game’s main menu, and another few seconds to load the level. On the performance side of things though, it’s a little disappointing. The game struggles to run on a medium-range machine with anything above 2x AA and a modest resolution. On the other hand though, there is not much graphical difference between 2x and 8x AA so those with lower end settings are not missing out on much. The sound is very forgettable; the soundtrack is bland and makes for good “elevator music”. The voice acting is quite poor and will often make you cringe with poor emotional display and forced dialogue. The only highlight is the weapons, which fire with satisfying effects.
Overall, it is hard to recommend the game to either Sci-fi fans or history fans because the game does neither particularly well. There are some good action sequences, huge battles and interesting history changes, but a lot of it does not feel particularly engaging because of some poor game design choices and disappointing story telling. If you tried the demo and enjoyed it, you can give the game a go, because most of the gameplay mechanics are showcased in the demo and continuously reappear in the full game. With a bit more technical polish and gameplay changes, this could have been a very fun and even engaging title. But as it stands, Darkest of Days offers a good glimpse at 8monkey Lab’s new engine to go along with some gunplay and background story, but not much else.
Our ratings for Darkest of Days on PC out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
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