Dark Void (PC) Review

Author: Gabriel Vega
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/dark_void/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Jetpacks and lost alien civilizations collide with humanity facing World War II in Dark Void; rare is it that gamers catch such epics in the video gaming realm. The game presents a science fiction story dating back to the origin of humankind. A battle of alien gods and men tumbling through a cycle of destruction; William and friends stumble into this battle while on a cargo mission looking to transport artifacts over the sea, and in a turbulent storm, the crew and plane fall into a tailspin, plowing into the Bermuda triangle. Dark Void brings players into the climax of this battle as tensions run high and the grip of the Watchers reaches further than it ever has.

The battles in Dark Void come in three episodes, bringing together a full play of drama and action. The first episodes bring William to the jungles where the natives on the Earth's end of the void live, bringing questions of the Gods -- known as the Watchers -- as they dominate the landscape. The following episode progresses at the same speed, bringing new insights into the world and the role of William in this struggle against the alien menace.

Unfortunately the biggest shortfall of Dark Void shows itself: the pace is simply too slow. The midpoint of the story arrives as the game is well into episode three, with few remaining chapters. The result feels like a slap to the face with a conclusion and details too vague. To put it bluntly, it feels like Airtight Games should have just made two installments, using a cliffhanger to lead players onto the next title if there was enough material.

While the overall experience is worthwhile, there is a lurking air of disappointment in the final execution. The survivors start to set up their story; the mystery Watchers in the background tease the lurking evil. Everything has a place until the tablecloth jerks out from under and sends the story toppling. For those looking for more than run and gun tactics, Dark Void will leave you with a sense of failure, and nothing stands to repair that.

Moving into the graphics realm, we're impressed on the PC side; Unreal Engine 3 delivers the same levels of visual candy many gamers are familiar with. Making use of a simple configuration panel, Dark Void allows for basic detail and model quality and resolution adjustments. It also brings in PhysX support for NVIDIA and AGEIA product owners, providing improved physics response from crashes and environmental objects.

Dark Void does present a mystery world to enjoy; the jungle levels are lush with vegetation and there's plenty of freedom with which to explore the work of the developers. As we grew with the game, we noticed the platform design fade, laying favor to the free roaming aerial combat and quest assignments. Players wondering what the game balances out like: the ground based combat fades as the first episode draws to a close.

For novice flight fans, Dark Void has a forgiving learning curve; in-game tutorials do a good job of teaching the ins and outs, like aerial maneuvers and boost abilities, which can supplement hard banking maneuvers. Our experience needed some balance as the mouse reaction speeds felt slow while trying to direct ourselves out of trouble, though adjusting polling rate and DPI alleviated this considerably.

The audio sequences and voice acting provide an immersive experience, delivering a powerful score from the hand of Bear McCreary with songs that flow with tense moments and raise the alertness of players. As the action and shooting reach their peaks, the audio rises in the background, creating a sense of urgency within the player to settle the challenge in front of them. The delivery is in a sweet spot for gamers as it works to suit each environment with drama, vanishing just as quickly as it rolls in. Those looking for a cinematic experience will enjoy the rush that comes forward with each chapter and the battles ahead.

With all this said about Dark Void, it’s hard to imagine how something with promise fell so far from success. The visuals are on par with the latest titles on the market, and, the soundtrack grabs the player and rides with them through the twists and turns of the world. Despite a major delay, the story feels rushed and shattered, and brings the game to its knees as far as enjoyment goes. After completing Dark Void, there is no reason to return and find missing clues or storyline (another point which evokes feelings of a hurried launch).

For those looking for a quick duck and cover shooter with some reasonable flying battles, Dark Void is a solid rental. Those holding out for more may feel dismayed with a game that leads up to so much then quickly closes with “yada, yada, yada” and throws up the credits, leaving much of the plot up in the air.


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