(http://www.darkvoidgame.com/) Rated Teen by ESRB. With an emphasis on “vertical combat” and fully utilizing 3-dimensional movements, the team behind Dark Void set to revolutionize third-person shooters. They tried such by adding hovering and flying to the existing third-person shooter formula. As though following the trend of the plethora of recent genre hybrids, Dark Void is a mix of third-person shooter and flight combat simulation.
(http://www.darkvoidgame.com/) Rated Teen by ESRB.
With an emphasis on “vertical combat” and fully utilizing 3-dimensional movements, the team behind Dark Void set to revolutionize third-person shooters. They tried such by adding hovering and flying to the existing third-person shooter formula. As though following the trend of the plethora of recent genre hybrids, Dark Void is a mix of third-person shooter and flight combat simulation.
The story behind Dark Void took place in 1938, right before the onset of World War II. The protagonist of Dark Void, Will is a cargo pilot who crashed and mysteriously disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle ended up in “The Void”. The Void is inhabited by a highly civilized alien race called the Watchers and some human survivors. The Watchers have some evil plans of world domination once they are out of the Void and the human survivors fight against them. There are quite a few connections to Earth from inside the Void including some of the missing ships around the period, making the struggle more relatable. The story has quite a bit of cliché moments, in particular the theme of having the One to save mankind from enslavement sound just like The Matrix. But unlike the long and gruesome struggle Neo had from The Matrix, Will’s fight was over before he even got used to the idea.
Dark Void goes for a 3D realistic style of graphics. However, between the ape-like running posture, invisible gun-storage on Will’s back, unnatural facial proportions, and ragdoll dying animation, it can’t be helped that the game looks cartoony instead. The jungle environment early on is detailed but generic, though it becomes far more impressive once the game ventures into the expansive Void. The landscape of the Void is that of a barren wasteland, a desolate pit with lots of tall rock outcrops. Although it might resemble that of a post-apocalyptic movie, it is still awe-inspiring. The later stages of Dark Void offer more area to explore, the combination of the sheer size of the stages and the short load time is what impressive here. However, with large areas and large amount of details, the indoor stages occasionally suffer from some serious frame rate drop.
Nolan North, most recently known for his voice as Nathan Drake of Uncharted series, brings his talents here as Will the rocketman. Since Will and Nathan Drake share quite a few personality traits, so one can either say North’s voice work is an excellent fit for Will or that Nathan Drake just got himself a space-time manipulating jetpack. It’s only too obvious when the small lines such as “I could use that” and “that will come in handy” sound like they could’ve been borrowed sound files. The other voice cast members are equally serious about their destined roles in saving the Earth from inside the Void, in fact it is so serious that the most cliché parts of the plot are hilariously melodramatic. The music comes with all the engaging seriousness but without the cliché. Bear McCreary, composer for TV series Battlestar Galactica, is responsible for Dark Void’s orchestral score. The melodic and at times heavily accented orchestral music increases the sci-fi immersion when it’s there, but unfortunately the music is absent quite often. Audio glitches prevent some sounds from being played on various occasions as well.
In ground combat, a lot of Dark Void’s fights play out vertically. It can be described as unique, as it had never been so useful to point the gun toward the sky or the ground. Alternatively, it could be described as nauseating, tracking targets of various vertical distances while looking forward into a screen is not easy to get used to. The hardest challenge in the game is probably the ultimate spatial disorientation should one try to look sideways while using a horizontal platform as cover. Fortunately, not all of Dark Void fights are so unique. There are some familiar shooter mechanics such as running and gunning as well as taking cover. But there’s yet another innovative idea that didn’t work out so well for the gun fights. The gradually accelerating camera/crosshair movement without any adjustments, which does wonders to throw off one’s aim when using a controller. Although none of those make the game overly difficult since the homicidal alien robots never seem to do anything besides ineffectively shoot or hide.
The game becomes far more enjoyable when Will is able take to the skies. The developer is known for their previous work of the flight simulation Crimson Skies, which they used their expertise on Dark Void. On top of the standard dogfight maneuvers, Will and the 2 type of fighter jets he can control can all pull off special aerial tricks to throw off enemy attacks. Not to mention that taking off, hovering, and free falling take only several simple button presses. Flying around the Void is a simple pleasure thanks to its excellent control schemes.
The ideas of vertical combat and mixture of aerial and ground combat are both novel concepts. However, the vertical combat limits how long one can play the game for without holding onto a barf bucket. As for the aerial and ground combat hybrid, the majority of stages make themselves quite clear on whether it is a flying or a cover-and-shoot stage. Although in those precious and rare areas, the seamless transition from jetpack shooting, to hover and shoot, then to run-and-gun makes Will’s jetpack a hero. It is unfortunate there’s isn’t more because the hybrid stages are what make Dark Void stand out from the average flight simulation or third-person shooter.
There is a lot of buttons to learn considering control schemes for flying and traveling by foot are different, but it will only take a few hours to get used to them. And unfortunately by then, the game is over. There is no multiplayer to come back to the game for. But there are journal pages hidden all over the Void that gives a little more information on the Void and Bermuda Triangle. On top of that, the player can spend tech points collected from the game to upgrade all six weapons plus the jetpack for up to 3 times. They give the weapons some extra bang even though they are quite strong enough to begin with.
Dark Void has its flaws and brilliance. In summary of the whole package, it would have been more fulfilling if the title was longer as well as more confident in mixing the two genres it draws from. A longer campaign can allow for further character and plot development that will in turn leads to a deeper immersion. The lack of the hybrid stages limits the player from freely experimenting with using flight-combat in a shooter battle, or visa versa. In other words, Dark Void is extremely entertaining with the jetpack flying mixed with shooter concept, but it’s a pity that it is not more in-depth or free of limitation.