Over the past few years, vampires have been all the rage in both film and television, Twilight can take credit for (far to) much of that. However, that obsession hasn't really crossed over into the video game medium, where zombies have really been the monsters of choice. In fact, off the top of my head I can't think of a mainstream vampire-oriented game in years, ever since the mediocre Vampire Rain, or better Vampire Masquerade series. Kalypso is looking to change that, bringing their vampire-themed third-person stealth action game to market later this year. And we can only hope that the game will be more varied than Kristin Stewart's acting palette.
Dark is a vampire themed stealth action RPG set in the modern day. You play as Eric Bane, who awakes in a dirty, dingy bar with no recollection of where he is, or how he got there. Even worse, he soon discovers powers he never used to have, vampiric powers. Dark plays out as an adventure role-playing game, learning and developing your powers, and facing off against numerous enemies, from security guards and police, to other vampires and vampire lords, to uncover the truth and discover how you came to be.
Before I get too much into the plot, it's important to note that Dark isn't a shooter in any form. In fact, you won't be wielding any weapons whatsoever, this is a stealth action game at its core. As such, you're limited to using various supernatural powers to take down enemies, and over the course of the game refining and unlocking new powers via the skill tree. As a vampire, you're an ultimate stealth hunter, with the ability to hunt prey via their heat signatures in the cover of darkness including through walls and floors, and vanish into thin air. Sneak up quietly behind an unsuspecting enemy, or use a warp power to perform a deadly takedown and finisher by rushing your victim from a distance. Some of the other powers we've seen thus far include the ability to possess an unsuspecting victim and turn them against each other; leap from point to point in an instant; and shadow pull, a long-distance lethal action where you pull a poor sap from a distance, snapping their neck in the process. Dark also offers a bullet-time style mode (minus the bullets), which slows the entire world down around you and allows you to take down large numbers of enemies in the blink of an eye.
As a vampire, you have a need to feed, you're forced to suck the blood out of some of your victims to survive and grow stronger. It's also the key method of refilling your blood points, which are required to perform any of your vampiric actions in the game. This is also one of your greatest weaknesses, as feeding will leave you exposed to both enemies. Best to leave that snack until after the shooting stops.
Throughout the game, you'll earn experience points by completing levels, and bonuses for achieving certain objectives, such as finishing a level without being detected. These experience points will allow you to unlock new vampiric and passive powers to become a more effective hunter, and stronger as the game becomes more difficult.
The environments you'll discover through the game are not only gorgeous, but extremely detailed. As you move about the environment, you'll need to be careful both how quickly you move, and where you step, as moving across shards or glass or certain terrain will make you more vulnerable to detection. In true stealth fashion, it's also important to hide the bodies of your victims as not to attract unwanted attention.
The highlight of the game is no doubt the visual style. Dark is a cel-shaded marvel, it was nominated for our Best of E3 2012 award in the Best Graphics - Artistic category. The environments are colourful with a great use of lighting, and the cel-shaded style and effects are so beautiful it's difficult to put into words. The best description I can come up with is it's almost like a graphic novel brought to life. I can't wait to get my hands on this game, if for nothing more than admiring the artwork for a couple of hours.
One final note, while the story mode of the game will offer multiple endings, and a secondary play through will yield a different experience, as certain skill elements won't become available until your second time through the game.
Set to ship later this year, Dark looks to bring vampires back to the video game market in a very stylish way. We're looking forward to seeing more as the game gets closer to release.