Stealth based videogames haven’t had a good run on the current-generation videogame consoles. The likes of Metal Gear Solid and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell (high-definition remakes aside) made their best efforts to offer stealth gameplay within action experiences as opposed to the other way around, and the likes of Vampire Rain were too caught-up on waiting for opportunistic moments in preordained scenarios rather than allowing the player to create their own opportunities. Kalypso Media’s forthcoming Dark could still go either way, but from that which Electronic Theatre has witnessed there’s plenty to be quietly confident about.
Developed by Realmforge, Dark casts you as Eric Bane, a young mane who awakes from unconsciousness to find himself at a nightclub called ‘The Sanctuary.’ Bane is now a vampire, and has no idea how this fate befell him. Surrounded by other vampires and thirsting for blood, the player has to make their way through the modern day adventure remaining aware that they are a creature of the night, and that consuming human blood will reward them. This is demonstrated in a very direct manner, as biting people will earn the player Blood Points which can then be used to perform special skills which are earned as the videogame progresses.
Soon after the start of the videogame Bane fins himself on the trail of a global conglomerate that seems omnipresent, and clearly has some relation to the vampires masquerading as partygoers at The Sanctuary. Such a premise obviously lends itself to a wide variety of encounters, and even in the short preview build Electronic Theatre witnessed hapless humans, rival vampires and heavily armed personnel. With the focus of Dark set firmly on the stealth action all of the above pose different threats, but are just as easily thwarted by a Shadow Leap (moving from one cover to another via a special ability preventing your from being detected) and a Shadow Kill (consumes Blood Points for an undetectable kill). Use of these abilities can be planned ahead of time through the use of Vampire Vision, which allows the player to examine the area and the locations of enemies before determining and executing a plan of attack.
Dark will feature a linear mission structure with The Sanctuary acting as the hub between missions. The development team did confirm that the final build will feature eight lengthy missions (with downloadable content being considered, but not confirmed) but just how adaptable to player interaction the story will be remains to be seen. A dialogue wheel has been revealed though it was confirmed that this has no impact on the actually gameplay. Hopes are high that Realmforge will play-up the contrast between your wish to return to your human form and the need to enact justice upon the vampires: you will undoubtedly make bloodsucking friends along your path, so if there were an opportunity for you could rid the planet of vampires and save mankind, would you do so knowing that your friends would pay the highest price? The developers have created a world with so much possibility that we can only hope that the team can live-up to the grand expectation they have created, both in terms of gameplay and story development.
Looking nothing short of promising, Dark could be the kiss of life that the stealth genre so desperately needs. There are a lot of questions that remain unanswered, but at present the abilities available, the enemy encounters (including multi-stage bosses) and the style of the videogame are promising signs that Realmforge are moving in the right direction. Dark is currently set for release on Xbox 360 and PC in early 2013, and Electronic Theatre will keep you updated with all the latest details on this and other titles from Kalypso Media.