2Dark Impressions—A Disquieting Stroll Through Madness

2Dark: A recipe of murder, abduction, and darkness emerges with mushy controls but frightfully good flavour.

2 Dark absolutely nails the unsettling atmosphere of those top-down, horror games on Kongregate or Armor Games. Frédérick Raynal, the creator of nineties classic Alone in the Dark returns to form with a disturbing narrative that kicks into motion when Smith, a holidaying university professor is forced to cut his camping trip short after his wife’s bloodcurdling scream spells murder bloody murder, and his kids are abducted, escorted away in the back of a truck with an eerie red glow. It’s a grim beginning, and things only get grimmer.

Players regain control of Smith as he explores his dimly-lit residence, discovering clues, weapons, and the stray overdue phone bill that betrays his negligence of societal obligation in favour of more pressing psychological needs – finding his wife and kids, who he still believes are alive. The inventory system is clear and easily accessible, and there’s even a creative save system which has you lighting Smith’s cigarette (Job Simulator’s burrito exit comes to mind), but the character’s movement feels delayed; Like many third-person games, 2Dark relies on the mouse to pivot the character into the desired direction and then the WASD keys to actually progress anywhere, so as an essential component of gameplay this needs to be much more responsive for a smoother experience. It’s compatible with a controller but keyboard and mouse is a far more natural, more intuitive interface.

In Gloomyditch Amusement Park, the next unlockable exploration point on the map, a rather creepy, Spanglish speaking gypsy lady is apparently holding kids hostage, and Smith needs to lure them out to their freedom using candy or various voice commands. It’s simultaneously terrifying and comforting that only his goal seems to separate him from the genuine child abductors. The abandoned theme park trope isn’t exactly a rare sight in games or film, but 2Dark’s environments are positively haunting from an artistic perspective, encircled by a perpetual blanket of darkness, and perfectly timed, fantastically gruesome jump scares. Later on, it weaves in cleverly designed stealth (optional) elements, more of the tragic story unfolds, and although the price tag seems a bit steep, I would grab it on sale if you’re a fan of survival horror games – it’s definitely a diamond in the rough.

2Dark is out now via Steam (PC) for $24.99 USD.

A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this preview.