Darkfall: kick-ass adventure game

http://www.xxvproductions.co.uk/darkfall/

This game is the bees knees for fans of intelligent terror. It takes some cues from Lovecraft (great powers from the ancient beyond that threaten the sanity), but I hope it’s not a spoiler to say you rarely see anything graphically violent in the game. The terror is in the atmosphere of the game and forboding sound effects and dark oppressive locations that really get to your nerves.

The game takes place in an abandoned British train station/hotel which was the peak of luxury in the era just after WWI, when a series of unsolved disappearances occurred. You spend the game wandering this place looking for your lost brother (who called you from the hotel in the middle of the night, asking for help), soaking in a wonderful spooky plot filled with buttloads of evocative historical detail from the era and great voice acting for the various spirits that inhabit the place. The puzzles are logical and include codebreaking and locating ancient runes of power.

I think it’s a shame that all of the reviews quoted on the game website were ran in publications outside of the mainstream gaming press. The New York Times loved it, but no mention from Games Domain, apparently.

A sequel is on the way. Check this out.

"The terror is in the atmosphere of the game and forboding sound effects and dark oppressive locations that really get to your nerves.

The game takes place in an abandoned British train station"

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!! You don’t need Lovecraft, just a soggy ham sandwich.

What if I like really stupid, mind-numbing terror? Do you have any of that?

Try watching an Adam Sandler flick.

I also really enjoyed Darkfall. It’s a great adventure game. Unfortunately, I thought both the story and the gameplay really fell apart at the end. But the first 3/4 of the game is excellent–the best I’ve played since Amber. I disagree about the puzzles all being logical, though. Many of them are, but too many are inexplicable (“I could lock this door with a key that only I have…but why not lock it with a pattern-recognition puzzle that could be opened by any stranger who puts his mind to it? Yes…that also has the advantage of being a pain in the ass for ME to use. Perfect!”). Also, the game uses my least favorite puzzle, the Simon-lock (listen to music and then duplicate it). Not once, but TWICE.

Even so, great story, great mystery, great game. It hit the perfect pitch with the mystery: it didn’t just spoon-feed you the story, but it wasn’t so cryptic that you couldn’t figure it out. It was a story that rewarded you sitting down and really thinking about the clues you had found, trying to puzzle out what happened back when the disappearances occurred. Also, the horror was mostly pitch-perfect–very subtle stuff that would just freak you out. Great stuff. I’m psyched that there will be a sequel.

I downloaded the demo, and it says I have to change my desktop to 640x480 to run it. Does the full game have the desktop resolution matching puzzle?

It’s locked at 640x480. That said, it looks nice despite the low resolution.

But do you actually have to switch your desktop to 640x480 in order to play the full game, like you have to to play the demo?

Oh, that. Er… no, I don’t think so. It’s been a while, but I think I would remember something that annoying.

It is the prequel to the Darkfall MMORPG? http://www.darkfallonline.com

That thing looks cool–another somewhat stylized (like WoW) MMORPG… I think that’s what’s going to get me interested in those games. If they look different.

Erik: No.

Tom: No.

Played the demo a while ago after reading one of those glowing blurbs. I don’t remember the puzzles being at all interesting or the mood being particularly moody, but I do remember struggling to get around using the nested snapshot maze of the game’s awkward hypercard metaphysics. (eg. after rolling around trolling for hotspots you zoom into some detail that gives you a new “clue” and then you roll around looking for the hotspot that will allow you to extricate yourself from this view like some kind of retarted Sherlock Holmes leaning over and getting his head stuck in the spooky antique desk.) If you want to rescue this style of game from the scrap heap of antique interactivity I think you’ll need to do some significant work on the infrastructure. Judging by the demo, the mainstream gamer press is perfectly justified in ignoring this. I’d rather play Cosmic Osmo.

Yeah, I can see how it would be suited to more advanced gamers… Might want to put an age requirement warning label on the box to avoid confusion in this area.

Hey there Jumping Jesus–

Charles over at the NYT sure did rave about Dark Fall in a Halloween gaming column he did. I loved it, too, despite its technological limitations.

A lot of adventure gamers loved the game as well, which was created almost in its entirety by one person, Jonathan Boakes. This was Jonathan’s first attempt at game developing, and as such was budget restricted, but concerning its story and puzzles it was still above the quality of many small developer efforts (and even some bigger budget adventures). Jonathan’s demo really doesn’t do the overall game justice, actually.

News of Dark Fall spread almost entirely by word of mouth via adventure-based gaming sites and forums, and the gaming site I hail from, Four Fat Chicks (www.fourfatchicks.com), did a big feature on it last year. If you’re curious, you can check it out here:
http://fourfatchicks.com/Reviews/Dark_Fall/Dark_Fall.shtml

I took a whole pile o’ screenshots to go with the review, too…

I will now refrain from raving further about it. :wink:

-Denice Cook

Yeah, I can see how it would be suited to more advanced gamers… Might want to put an age requirement warning label on the box to avoid confusion in this area.[/quote]

Ok, I went back and replayed the demo to see if I was being too critical. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Click on the desk to zoom into the desk. Now, how to zoom out? There’s no indication anywhere of how to do it. After moving my cursor around the screen I discover that there is a narrow active area at the bottom of the screen where my cursor turns into a back arrow. Fair enough. Now, I click on one of the desk drawers and it slides open, revealing nothing of interest. Ok, I’ll go look somewhere else. But wait, now the zoom out area is no longer active. There is no way to get away from the desk, presumably because he didn’t render a long view of the desk with its drawer open. If I click on the drawer again it closes, and now I’m allowed to zoom out.

Similar things happen behind the bed. There are two books lying there, equally prominent. One you can click on to open, one you can’t. Once you open the book there is no way to close it.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think this is bad interactivity. It’s frustrating, awkward, non-intuitive, and unpleasant. And I think there’s a reason this sort of multimedia, find-the-invisible-hotspot, slide-show interactivity has mostly gone away. And I say good riddance.

I was jokin’ with ya, but basically it didn’t annoy me nearly as much as it did you.

I chalk that up to an affinity for the rest of the game. If I don’t like a movie, I’d probably walk out if the sound was a bit distorted. But if I was really into a movie, I’d probably stay even if month-old dead yaks were sprouting waves of maggots in the chairs around me.

My interest in the game kept me from noticing an annoyance that drove you kicking and from the game, probably because the rest of it wasn’t exactly floating your boat, either.

I can understand that. I recently uninstalled Aquanox after about six missions because the voice acting was the worst I’ve ever heard. If I found the game more compelling I might have been able to ignore it, but that was not the case.

I wasn’t that annoyed at the interface either. Granted, interfaces have progressed a lot since we used the stuff there. For example, at the very least, he could have left the zoom-out area active on the desk and just played the “drawer closing” noise as you back out. But the thing is, everyone who has played point-and-click adventure games for a while knows those interface quirks, so I hardly noticed it. If I click on the “back” area and nothing happens, I’ll instinctively click the drawer shut without half a thought. It would be different if I were frustrated and having to hunt around and try things at random to get the interface to work. But that wasn’t the case.