Game developer Starbreeze Studios did an excellent job with their 2004 released first person action game The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, proving that a great game can be based on a bad movie. Now Starbreeze and publisher 2K Games have released The Darkness, an first person action game adaptation of the Top Cow published comic book. Unfortunately this next effort from the developer, despite some big pluses, gets hurt by a number of issues, some technical and some in gameplay design.
Your playable character in the single player portion of the game is Jackie Estacado, a mob hit man in New York City who is celebrating his 21st birthday. The game begins with an exciting sequence with your character on board a convertible with two other hit men that are being chased by the cops. It's a sequence that is like an souped up into to a Half-Life game; instead of a slow moving intro you get a fast paced rail sequence (complete with voice credits) that promises a lot for the full game to live up to. The sequence ends with a crash as Jackie has to fight off various enemy mobsters while at the same time trying to see his girlfriend Jenny who knows nothing about what Jackie does for a living. Jackie is in for a rude awakening on his birthday, however, as he discovers that in addition to his shooting skills he has supernatural powers which seems to have a voice and mind of their own at times. The power, which calls itself The Darkness, increases more and more as Jackie uses it but a series of events in the game (which we won't go into here) causes Jackie to make some rather brutal choices in order to save his girlfriend and to solve the mystery of what The Darkness actually is.
The Darkness powers increase the more you use them as they manifest themselves as snake like tendrils that come from the back of Jackie's body. Your powers come from the dark itself; staying in the dark or knocking out lights recharges your abilities in the game. You progress through several levels of powers in the game as you eat the hearts of your various victims. You start with a rather neat ability; one of you tendrils can move while you stay in once place for remote kills or opening up specific doors and sections that you can't reach on your own. Later you get an arm that can pick up and throw people and objects and later still you get access to mystical guns that pack a mean punch Finally you get a black hole power that can create a vortex that's nifty to take out groups of enemies at onces.
The Darkness also gives you a way to manifest AI controlled "Darklings", lizard-like demons that can have separate abilities, from shooting to melee attacks to kamikaze explosions to a way to get rid of light sources (they also can be quite funny in a dark way). The game also gives you access to normal hand held weapons like pistols, shotguns and machine guns (no grenades, oddly enough).