The Darkness (video game)
|Platform(s)||Xbox 360, PlayStation 3|
The Darkness is a first-person shooter video game developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by 2K Games for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game was released in 2007 in North America and Europe and is based on the comic book of the same name. A sequel titled The Darkness II was released in 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 "Uncle" Paulie Franchetti (voiced by Dwight Schultz), a New York Mafia boss, 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 work only in the dark. Using these powers, Jackie proceeds to destroy Paulie's business by killing his biggest drug peddler, Dutch Oven Harry (voiced by Richard Leighton), and burning down the slaughterhouse where he stores his money. In retribution, Paulie and his main enforcer, Captain Eddie Shrote (voiced by Jim Mathers) of the New York City Police Department, 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 "Tony" Estacado (voiced by Kirk Baltz), 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 Captain Shrote before he can face Paulie. After failing to kill Shrote at his apartment, Jackie steals a briefcase containing illicit goods in Shrote's ownership from a Turkish bath that is used as a front by his corrupt police officers. Jackie rigs the briefcase with an explosive and sets up a meeting with Shrote at Trinity Church. Jackie heads to the meeting to kill Shrote, but he is instead captured by his men following a shootout. After overhearing about a shipment of drugs that a Chicago mob is entrusting to Paulie to handle from one of Shrote's officers, 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 it 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.
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; the player is able to watch the entirety of the film if they remain motionless in that particular part of the game. Maximum PC 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.
In March 2005, Majesco Entertainment obtained the publishing rights for The Darkness console game being developed by Starbreeze Studios, but later sold the rights in December that year due to financial troubles. 2K Games then obtained the publishing rights in March 2006, releasing the game in North America on June 25, 2007.
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The Darkness received "favorable" reviews on both platforms according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. It also 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". In Japan, where the Xbox 360 version was ported and published by Spike on May 15, 2008 and the PlayStation 3 version, also published by Spike, was ported on June 26, 2008, Famitsu gave the former console version a score of two eights and two sevens for a total of 30 out of 40.
411Mania gave the Xbox 360 version a score of 8.7 out of 10 and called it "the kind of shooter that I enjoy. It is built around more than just shooting. It gives you a wide range of powers with which to play. It gives you people to interact with. It gives you a story that is worth caring about. And it makes you feel as if you are The Darkness itself. However, because of the relative brevity of its content, some basic bugs and flaws that are still present, and the minor annoyances of the controls of Jackie’s powers, it is far from perfect. However, this is pretty much a must play shooter, if not quite the classic I was hoping for." The New York Times gave the game a favorable review and said that "Part of [the game's] charm is its wealth of extravagant, often irrelevant detail." However, The A.V. Club gave it a C and called it "an overreaching, frequently clumsy genre hybrid with moments of brilliance."
The Darkness has sold over a million units worldwide. The Media Development Authority of Singapore previously banned the game for excessive violence and religiously offensive expletives. After the introduction of Video Game Classification in 2008, the ban was lifted and the title re-rated M18.
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