I stepped into the Darkness II without having hardly any prior knowledge of the game, nor having played the first Darkness. As I tried to battle off the feeling that it was going to be one of those over-the-top “I’m freaking underground awesome” games, I loaded the game up with a healthy amount of skepticism in my veins. Over the next mere twenty or so minutes at the start of the single-player campaign, Darkness II strove to change my mind about it, and greatly succeeded.
At the heart of it, the single-player campaign tells a tragic story of one man’s life torn apart by the death of his girlfriend and his fight against the darkness inside of him (quite literally!). The game blends cutscenes inbetween the action to accomplish this, and some of them are completely heart-rending with main man Jackie is haunted by the ghost of his dead girlfriend Jenny. While I love the cinematic feel of the game, the graphics and animations are pretty standard. The game adapts a cell-shaded style that attempts to look similar to the graphic novel’s art, which some players might actually quite like (I’m just not usually a fan of such styles). Some of the animations are a little less than realistic, but they get the job done, and I’m not usually one to quibble over such things.
Demon arms incoming!
The gameplay is an action FPS blending in a healthy dose of RPG elements. Not only can Jackie dual wield guns, but he can also use his darkness snake-headed tentacles as extra arms to grab things (or people!) and eat people’s hearts. Yes, really - and it’s awesome. This mechanic is called the “quad wield” system. Defeating enemies nets Jackie essence which he can spend at upgrade shops to cherry-pick skills from multiple skill trees. These skills can be either active or passive, doing things like improving Jackie’s gun skills or ammo capacity, or opening up new darkness abilities, like black holes or stunning swarms of some kind of darkness insect.