Dark Void encourages you to strap on its jetpack, and blast into the void for one topsy turvy adventure. Developed by Airtight Games, and published by Capcom, we are eager to search out the secrets that hide within the Bermuda Triangle.
Dark Void is the story of a headstrong cargo pilot, William A. Grey, and sub-contracting escort, Ava, as they struggle to stay alive when they become stranded in the Dark Void! What is the Dark Void? Well, that is easy. The Dark Void is an inter-dimensional portal, or more plainly put, an unknown world that is located in the Bermuda Triangle. Due to some in-flight complications, William's plane crashes into this exotic land, and survivors William and Ava quickly learn that life in the Void is not going to be easy. In a journey that incorporates an heinous race of aliens, William and Ava strap in for the fight of their lives.
The first stages in the game feels like you have just landed the 'Normandy' on a 'Gest' accupied planet, both refrences from 2007's 'Mass Effect'. The similarities between Dark Void’s 'Watchers', and the 'Gest' are ineptly noticeable from a design standpoint, right down to their glowing heads, and in-game movements. This likeness does not stop Dark Void from being fun, or cause the enemies to stop being interesting. Capcom dodges the whole "Mass Effect robot deal" by fabricating the Watchers into a race of shape-shifting bugs, or should I say, slugs! In Dark Void’s development, the Watchers have an in-depth back-story that involves a human species Darwinism plot, which brings Dark Void's Bermuda Triangle occurrence even closer to the realm of ridiculous. Really all you will need to know is, the Watchers are the antagonists, and when you them, SHOOT!
The Uncharted Void
Bringing in more outside influences, Dark Void also feels a little like the 'Uncharted' series. This is noticeable when you compare the landscapes from both games. Dark Void’s jungle environment is very similar to the Amazon in Uncharted. Each location is filled with ancient ruins, lush jungle foliage, and even wreckage from old ships. To blend in with Dark Voids' upwards and downwards combat, you will be climbing higher than Drake would venture in Unchated. The vertical gameplay is the main factor that starts to make Dark Void's world feel like a diferent game.
Referencing 'Uncharted 2: Among Thieves' (review), Drake’s "train, hanging off a cliff segment" seems like child’s play when compared to the depths that William ventures in the void.
Lastly, while 'Uncharted 2' is still on the brain, Ava has similar qualities as Uncharted 2's 'Chloe Frazer'. Both dark haired beauties are forceful, headstrong, unwavering, and British. Like Uncharted, the plot thickens when you learn that William and Ava have a history of being romantically linked in the past. This brings on a similar tension filled vibe as 'Uncharted', as you run around in typical romantic cliches during your adventure. Oh... and one more thing, 'Nolan North' who voices Drake in 'Uncharted' also voices our lead in Dark Void, William. At least 'Airtight Games' is being influenced by good games because it could always be worse.
Exploring the Void
Now that we are done exploiting Dark Void's similarities with other games, let's get into its world. Exploring the world of Dark Void is mainly a linear experience, with only a few spots now and again that open up for exploration. Dark Void starts out a little slow and amps up as you get into the thick of things. The first part of Dark Void feels like it is running on autopilot, especially when it forces you into a hiking sessions with your teammate. However, this taste of autopilot only last for so long, and before you know it, you will be in the thick of the action.
Up, Up, and Away!
The action picks up when you meet 'Nikola Telsa', and acquire your first jetpack (well, Hover Pack in the beginning). This segment happens about 1½ into the game (minus the abrupt intro segment). The hover pack won’t turn you into 'Astroboy', but it does give you the ability to jump large distances, and boost up and down from ledges that would be impossible otherwise. This is when the vertigo experience begins with the perspective switching depending on the way you are situated against the environment. Moving around on different surfaces is easily done. The camera behaves kind of like a first-person deal while you are still in the third and jumping from ledge to ledge as simple as looking and leaping. This concept is very unique, and the most fascinating aspect of Dark Void.
Umm, I don't feel so good
As simple as it is to learn Dark Void's controls, I could not help to think that it could have been done more tactfully. Navigating around the terrain can be a little exasperating, as well as upsetting. Dark Void does its best to help the player with icons that appear when you have a choice to shift. This left, right, up, down, over, system works fairly well, but in no way is the system as smooth as other games that use a comparable duck-and-cover styled approach. Nerveless, no other game gives you the same range of mobility, and it is stimulating to explore the world strapped to a jet pack. Dark Void might only be an one shot deal, but if Airtight comes back for another trip, the troubled areas are easy to spot.
While leaping ledge to ledge you will also half to deal with gunning down the enemy, keeping your grip by fast button mashing, and moving quickly to avoid trouble. When the heat is on, Dark Void can be overwhelming and a little crazy to take in. Dark Void can also be challenging when fighting in an abnormal position. You might even find yourself handing from a ledge shooting enemies overhead while they try to surround you, all while hanging vertically. After you spend sometime flying around, and getting used to the unique gameplay aspects, it starts to feel natural. Of course, this is after a few hours into the game-- deep into the void.
With all this action-taking place, you have to keep your sense of grounding at all times. Falling can be frustrating peculiarly when you don’t die. When you don’t die you can actually float a mile downward, which makes the climb back up redundant. Dying resets the player to the last checkpoints that thankfully occur often. The real culprit to loosing your bearings are the camera angles. The camera can be a little unforgiving, so you will always have to keep that in the back of your mind as the perspectives twist up during firefights.
It's Time to Fly!
After the game gives you a little prep time on the Hover-pack, it is time to upgrade to the full out Jetpack. The Jetpack is a bigger, more powerful version of the hover pack that gives the handler more flexibility. Created by Tesla, William straps in to fight the odds. This starts up the division between on foot battles, and in-air dogfights. William is never restricted from using the full out pack even in tight quarters. However, you better have a good handle on this stallion because when it blasts off, you are in for one wild ride.
The dogfights, in air combat is smooth, which should not be too surprising since some members of Airtight Studios worked on the Xbox exclusive 'Crimson Skies' back in the day. 'Crimson Skies' was an excellent air combat game and their talents show in Dark Void. Even with the action is split between air, and ground combat, Dark Void can still hold its own when you are tussling it out in the sky. Along with jetting around you also have the choice to skyjack the enemy ships, fighting fire with fire. The mini-game is fairly basic that comes up when skyjacking these saucers, and even as much fun as the jetpack can be, the oppositions aircraft are a more concrete for those fighting with the controls.