I remember The Darkness very fondly. It’s old as dirt now, came out in 2007. It shows a little bit, but not enough to take away from the fact it’s deserving of cult status. There isn’t another game like it that I can think of. It was the first shooter to make me feel like crap. There is a scene in this game where the love of Jacky’s (you) life – and Starbreeze are almost devastating in the way they portrays his relationship with her, there’s even a moment where they snuggle up and watch TV together – is cruelly taken from him.
The Darkness II hinges on this, despite the fact it’s arguably one of the most full-bore shooters I’ve ever played and could conceivably get by with no plot to speak of. A few years on and Jacky still can’t come to terms with what’s happened. Not only that, but he’s been struggling to keep the titular Darkness under internal lock and key ever since. Suffice to say, poo has meaningful intercourse with the fan and it’s game on.
I’ve had a copy of it for months. I didn’t bother playing it because, I will admit, it wasn’t on anyone’s radar. It seemed to just come out and, no matter how hard 2K tried, no one seemed to give it much of a chance. This apathy rubbed off on me too, but over the weekend I was looking for something fresh to sink my teeth into, and this was it.
I’m glad I did. It’s amazing and, much like the first game, criminally ignored for reasons I can’t quite pin-point. The resonance of the story at large aside (later, new devs Digital Extremes even start to suggest that Jacky’s entire life is just a paranoid delusion in the cleverest way possible), this is the first time I’ve gritted my teeth while playing a shooter in years.
In my more bizarrely selfish moments I sometimes sit around and bemoan the fact that nobody is making games specifically for me. I’m not much for war and soldiers, but I like shootin’ thangs. I’m more about grit and the stuff that makes my eyebrows elevate in fits of WTF. I want a story that doesn’t pull any punches, that is dynamic. Destroy me then piece me back together. The Darkness II is almost everything that I want. If it had some kinda cyberpunk element I would’ve Randy Marsh’d myself to death already.
The gunplay is so brutal it borders on sick. I’m amazed this thing got past our censors unscathed, absolutely amazed. Not only can your demonic tentacles Sub Zero a man’s skull and spinal cord out through his anus, but at one stage you even visit a brothel. Go ahead, poke your face into a few ajar doors. In one room, there’s a suit and tie mercilessly doing the business with a lady of the night, and in another there’s… well. Let’s just say this is one of those ‘should have been an R18+’ games.
None of this is there for titillation. You have to cruise around until you find it. It’s there because, man, The Darkness II is so true to itself it’s scary. It answers to no one, not even its protagonist. Especially not him. Play this.