I was browsing through my Humble library of unredeemed keys the other day, and stumbled upon The Darkside Detective. A retro-styled, point and click adventure set with supernatural themes? Sounds perfect, how had this game gone under my radar for so long?
Detecting the Darkness
In The Darkside Detective, you play as Detective McQueen, a man whose job is to keep the supernatural goings on in Twin Lakes City to an absolute minimum. Joined by the muscle-bound and muscle-headed Patrick Dooley, a copper who is equally as disrespected as McQueen, the pair have nine cases to muddle their way through – with your help of course. What stands out most of all in the game is the chemistry between the two police officers. They’ve been so excellently written that it felt as though I’d been watching the two of them crack wise for months on TV. In fact, there are plenty of characters in television and movies that still don’t have the same level of witty banter and camaraderie that you’ll feel from McQueen and Dooley. The writers for the game didn’t just focus on the main protagonists though, every character you interact with has a solid contribution to make and, even if they’re just there for decoration, there’s a good chance they’ll still make you laugh.
The cases themselves in the game are just as enjoyable as the banter, if a little short. The game is split into nine separate cases, each with different and unique storylines, characters and settings. While they don’t tie together to make one overarching story, you do get nine little bitesize stories that open a little window into the lives of the citizens of the city, and a wider picture of the city starts to form. In some ways, I actually prefer this to your usual game. It feels more like a mini-series, almost like a Brooklyn 99, where you’re able to view the characters develop as time goes on.
All the areas have been created using a retro style, which is absolutely gorgeous. The artists had a lot of freedom and creativity with the game as well, as they didn’t just focus on a standard Earthly world, but occasionally dipping into the otherworld – the Darkside. The times you spend in the Darkside are amazing, because they are just so utterly bizarre. They’re beautiful, well crafted and apocalyptic looking, but still manage to be completely in keeping with the game’s theme.
The only thing I can say truly lets The Darkside Detective down is the length. The developers went down the route of having multiple mini-stories that flesh out the characters than one long and winding story. However, the mini stories vary in length, and some of them are only twenty minute levels maximum. McQueen and Dooley do still get some good quips in, but these stories are far too short to be enjoyable. Pair this with the fact that due to the stories being generally quite short, there is very little scope for a challenging, overarching puzzle that requires you to recall facts throughout the game. The Darkside Detective is charming, funny and an enjoyable experience, but it lacks serious, brain tickling puzzles that make it a challenging game to play through.
The Final Word
I’d probably rate The Darkside Detective as one of the most enjoyable indie titles I’ve played recently. It does lack a bit of length, but the various chapters will give you at least five or so hours of gameplay, which is a decent amount when you combine it with all of the fantastic humour in the game. The cases are pretty varied as well, so while they are never incredibly difficult to solve, you do have plenty of different, bizarre objectives to complete and it’s well worth playing. Roll on Season 2!