Survival and horror are two terms associated to Frédérick Raynal back in his days at Infogrames, for a game known for its major influence of the video game genre: Alone in the Dark. Returning to business on his own with a small team and studio call Gloomywood, they give us an independent survival-horror game called 2Dark, which has only one desire: to abuse you mentally.
2Dark’s story is set in 1969. Smith is a Gloomywood detective on vacation by a lake, with his wife and two children. Everything is going, the cop is setting up the tents while his family is out to get some wood for the fire, and all of sudden he heard screams. As he rushes in the night, he discovers the corpse of his wife on the floor, and watches his kids being kidnapped and taken away in a creepy school bus. Seven years later, players find the same man now emotionally destroyed, constantly investigating abductions of children that have become more and more frequent in the city of Gloomywood, in hope that one day he’ll find the psychopaths that took his own kids.
Painted or designed with a rather old school and cute 16-Bit pixelated brush, 2Dark might have the appeal of a quirky indie game but it’s not at all. The game is spread across 6 different levels (not counting the transitions after each chapter in Smith’s apartment), with an areal view that reminds me the first 3 generations of Pokemon, which counts enormously on your sense of observation, but its mood is gritty, bloody and gory.
While the count of levels is quite low, it’s normal considering its price range, but that also means couple of faults you’d expect as well. Whether you’re playing it with a controller or mouse/keyboard combo, 2Dark will take a certain time to adapt, with a weird maneuverability tainted by a fairly average aim system, a inefficient “melee” actions and an inventory system that is a bit buggy but fun. For example, to save, you can light up your cigarette by combining a cigarette and a lighter in the inventory, which will be something you’ll do a lot in this game as it can be gruesomely challenging. Most levels in the game are built in a way that you need move cautiously, without noise and with enough light as there’s traps, holes and all sort of things waiting to kill you. There’s also enemies you can shoot with your gun, but I wouldn’t rely on this if I were you because of the stiffness of the main character as well as the rarity of ammunition.
Instead observation and a lot of stealth will be your best weapons to take a kid, or even a complete pack of them, back to safety in this game, after finding where they are on the level. Sometimes you’ll find a disguise, or alternative to distract the killer, camera to deactivate, etc… There are plenty of possibilities. And like most of these games, it’s a trial by error that will let you learn, so don’t be worried and experiment with the elements. Soon enough, you’ll discover patterns, windows of action between levels, but mainly realize that it’s patience that will be your best ally.
After more than a dozen hours, you’ll realize that even though you probably went a bit nuts trying to survive this, 2Dark is exactly what a survival-horror game should be, even with its “rustic” technical and graphical appearance. It’s a game full of ideas, even if the AI can sometimes make you lose patience.
2Dark was reviewed using an Xbox One digital code of the game provided by Bigben Interactive and Gloomywood. The game is also available on PC and PlayStation 4 in digital store release. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• Great game atmosphere.
• A quirky artistic direction.
• The levels can be played in numerous ways
• Very challenging game.
• Control can be a rigid reminding us of early 1990s titles
• A lack of readability can kill you in this game.
• AI can be buggy sometimes