The Darkness (video game)
Top Cow Productions, Inc.
|Release date(s)||Xbox 360
NA June 25, 2007
|Distribution||DVD, Blu-ray Disc|
The Darkness is a first-person shooter psychological horror video game developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by 2K Games for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It was released on June 2007 in North America and Europe. The game is based on the comic book of the same title. A sequel titled The Darkness II was released on February 2012.
The player takes the role of Jackie Estacado (voiced by Kirk Acevedo), with the story presented as a future-narrative on the present events observed by the player. On the eve of his 21st birthday, Jackie is targeted for assassination by the don of the New York mafia, "Uncle" Paulie Franchetti, following a failed task to retrieve money for the latter. While hiding in a cemetery bathroom, the Darkness (voiced by Mike Patton), an ancient demonic force that has inhabited his family for several generations, awakens within Jackie and slaughters the remaining mobsters, with the benefit of Jackie becoming the possessor of seemingly unholy demonic abilities that feed off the dark. Using these powers, Jackie is able to survive further assassination attempts and track down Paulie, but not before Paulie and the corrupt police chief Eddie Shrote kidnap Jackie's girlfriend Jenny Romano (voiced by Lauren Ambrose). They take her to the orphanage where Jackie and Jenny grew up and murder her in front of a powerless Jackie, who is unable to save Jenny due to the Darkness deliberately restraining him.
Jackie then commits suicide out of sheer emotional stress, finding himself in the Otherworld, the realm of the Darkness, which is home to patchwork undead beings in World War I outfits fighting each other and physical manifestations of the Four Horsemen. He meets his great-great-grandfather Anthony Estacado, who reveals that it was he that brought the Darkness into the family and tells Jackie how to free himself of the Darkness by invading the castle in the Otherworld and facing the Darkness there. Jackie is interrupted in his journey through the Otherworld and brought back to the living.
Once he recovers, Jackie determines that he must dispose of Chief Shrote before he can face Paulie. Chasing Shrote to his apartment and then confiscating a briefcase containing illicit goods in Shrote's ownership and rigging it with an explosive, Jackie is able to lure Shrote out of hiding, but he is shortly captured. After overhearing about a shipment of drugs that a Chicago mob is entrusting to Paulie to handle, Jackie triggers the explosive, killing Shrote and his men along with himself. Jackie re-awakes in the Otherworld and lays siege to the Darkness's castle with Anthony's help. Anthony is mortally wounded in the attack, but before he can tell Jackie the last steps needed to free himself from the Darkness, the spirit pulls him away.
Jackie faces the Darkness and surprises him by willingly being taken by the Darkness's power, allowing him to fully control the spirit back in the real world. However, the Darkness tells him that while he has control now, each time Jackie takes a life, he will become more consumed by the Darkness. He lays an assault on the drug shipment, causing Paulie to flee to the safety of a lighthouse mansion for fear of retribution from the Chicago mob. Jackie takes advantage of a solar eclipse to raid the mansion and finally kill Paulie. The Darkness revels in Jackie's murderous spree, and fully envelops Jackie.
In the epilogue, Jackie finds himself in a dream, lying on a park bench in Jenny's arms. Jenny explains that they are only allowed a few minutes to be together one last time to say goodbye. Jackie tries to ask how, but Jenny just quiets him, allowing them to enjoy the last moments together before Jackie wakes back up with the screen fading to black.
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The Darkness features an Italian-American hitman for the mafia named Jackie Estacado as the protagonist. The game includes a range of modern-day weapons as well as the powers of the Darkness. The Darkness powers include summoning four imp-like creatures called "Darklings" that can attack foes, using "Dark" tentacles to impale foes or break down walls, using "Creeping Dark" tendrils that sneak along floors, walls and ceilings to take out foes from a distance, and creating a black hole that sucks anything nearby into it. The Darkness powers cannot be used in a well-lit area but can be used in darker areas and under total darkness; the player is able to shoot out lights to help increase the amount of dark energy available. Additionally, by letting the Darkness consume the hearts of the victims of the attacks, the player can further increase the effects of the Darkness powers.
Over the course of the game, Estacado comes into possession of Darkness guns that are more powerful than conventional weapons but consume Darkness energy in order to fire. The Darkness guns are dual wielded.
The game has several levels based on New York City locales that players visit multiple times. A subway system allows the player to move between areas. While the main plot is primarily linear, requiring the player to visit each area in a certain order, the player can undertake side missions by speaking with non-player characters that wander the subway stations. Completing sub-missions earns the player a "collectible" phone number which can then be used at any phone to unlock additional game media; collectibles can also be found scattered throughout the level. The Otherworld levels feature collectibles in the form of unposted postal mail that the player can deliver when back in New York City in order to unlock the content.
In the game, the film To Kill a Mockingbird is shown. MaximumPC called the scene "the most authentic instance of romance ever conveyed in a videogame". Also included is the film The Man with the Golden Arm, a full episode of Flash Gordon, the film The Street Fighter with Sonny Chiba, and cartoon shorts of Popeye and Gabby.
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The Darkness received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregation websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox 360 version 82.70% and 82/100 and the PlayStation 3 version 80.40% and 80/100. Most praised the single player campaign, the story, and the game's graphics across both platforms, but warned readers about unreasonably bad lag in multiplayer sessions and advised to ignore multiplayer altogether until a patch is released. The Darkness received the "Game of the Month" award in the August 2007 issue of Game Informer. Hyper's Daniel Wilks commended the game for its "brilliant storytelling, looking great and excellent level design". However, he criticised its "weak physics engine and some AI problems".
The Darkness has sold over a million units worldwide.
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On February 7, 2011, a sequel was confirmed for release in early 2012 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The original developers, Starbreeze Studios, were confirmed not to be behind the sequel, as they were busy working on Syndicate. It was later announced Digital Extremes would develop the sequel. Later that month, record label Ipecac Recordings confirmed that Mike Patton will be returning as the voice of the Darkness.
On June 6, 2011, The Darkness II was given a release date of October 4, 2011. However, it was delayed and eventually released on February 7, 2012 in North America, February 10, 2012 in Europe and Australia and February 23, 2012 in Japan.
Original music for the game was written by Gustaf Grefberg, a full-time audio designer at Starbreeze. Other than the credits theme, which is by Mike Patton's Tomahawk project, it is the only music actually playing during the game.
The unrelated licensed soundtrack includes:
- "Try" – The 21st Impact
- "7 Days" – Acid House Kings
- "Say Yes If You Love Me" – Acid House Kings
- "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" – Blinded Colony
- "Riverbank" – Pelle Carlberg
- "Open Casket (edit)" – Closer
- "Grind & Rewind" – Defleshed
- "Black and White" – Down and Away
- "Shoot It In" – The Duskfall
- "Zon" – dyF1.6
- "A Nice Day" – El Caco
- "Substitute" – El Caco
- "Die Toten Core" – F.K.Ü.
- "Forever Train" – Frame
- "I, Deviant" – Insense
- "Pure and White" – Joy Serene
- "Lucky Star" – The Legends
- "Last Injection" – M.A.N.
- "The Hunt" – man.machine.industry
- "To Hell and Back" – man.machine.industry
- "Cruci-Fiction in Space" – Marilyn Manson
- "Later That Night" – Path Of No Return
- "Empty Threats" – Searing I
- "Die 5 Times Times 5" – South Ambulance
- "Going Down" – Sparzanza
- "It Won't Stop Bleeding" – Stained Red
- "Captain Midnight" – Tomahawk
- "Rendered In Vain" – Zonaria
- "Summer's End (To Kill A Mockingbird)" – Elmer Bernstein
- "The Darkness II Unveiled - IGN". Uk.xbox360.ign.com. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- "The Game Boy: My Favorite Games of the Decade, Part Two". Maximum PC. 2009-12-31. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- "The Darkness for Xbox 360". GameRankings. 2007-06-25. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- "The Darkness for PlayStation 3". GameRankings. 2007-06-25. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- "The Darkness for Xbox 360 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- "The Darkness for PlayStation 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- Wilks, Daniel (August 2007). "The Darkness". Hyper (Next Media) (166): 56–59. ISSN 1320-7458.
- "Inside Starbreeze: The Secret History of the Riddick Team from". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- "Censors ban Mass Effect over lesbian scene - Technology". smh.com.au. 2007-11-15. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- Sterling, Jim. "The Darkness II officially announced, with quad-wielding!". Destructoid. Retrieved 02-08-2011.