“Where cultists crawl, where demons dwell, where the occult… occults? you’ll find Detective Francis McQueen, the sole member of the criminally underfunded Darkside Division. When evil darkens the doorsteps of Twin Lakes City – hell, even when it just loiters around shop fronts or hangs out in shady alleyways – he’s there, ready to investigate the cases that nobody else will. He is The Darkside Detective.”
The Darkside Detective is a classic point and click adventure game by Spooky Doorway. You play as Detective Francis McQueen along with his side kick, Officer Dooley. The game promises a distinct sense of humour, naturally drawing inspiration from other games in it’s genre.
The premise of The Darkside Detective is great on paper. However it failed to strike me in the way I desired. The cases along with the game felt like they went by too quickly without leaving any real lasting impression on me. Where I thought it would have appealed to my knack for silly, fourth wall breaking comedy, it ended up being a click fest to me that was devoid of any meaning.
Where I thought The Darkside Detective would deliver and hook me in would be it’s writing. The game features a ton of dialogue from it’s wide assortment of characters along with McQueen’s observations and thoughts that he keeps to himself. I tried very hard to search around every scene for something that would make me love the game, but sadly I wasn’t able to find it.
The Darkside Detective features a distinct sense of humour, which normally draws me into such types of media, whether it be video games, movies or TV shows. Even though at their true meaning, the thoughts and scenarios presented are well thought out, they lack in their execution and delivery. At it’s core, this game has potential, but it failed to make itself apparent. Any joke or punch line delivered just didn’t have an oomph that it needed, and that inner voice in my head just came out monotone when reading most of the dialogue.
The Darkside Detective plays like your standard point and click adventure. You navigate from scene to scene investigating the crimes and super natural occurrences at hand. In each scene, you can click characters to trigger dialogue, or objects to obtain them or simply learn how impressed McQueen is that his colleagues computer has an “off” button.
To solve the mysteries of Twin Lakes, you’ll need to be quite patient and experimental. As you hit obstacles, the solutions won’t be so readily obvious. You’ll be required to back track quite a bit, seeing if you can uncover the event that will progress the game, or find that one missing object you need for the task at hand. To top it off, you can combine items in your inventory to make new items that are also needed for certain parts. Being cryptic is not a knock at The Darkside Detective. Other games in this genre all go through this process of investigation, it just comes with the territory and these games are known for it.
At first glance, Darkside Detective is a pretty game. It has a very vibrant presentation that’s styled with with a nice pixelated aesthetic. Although it’s styled in a primitive manner, there are small touches all over each scene that add nice ambiance. Each characters and object of interest stands out quite easily, making everything and every person easy to find. Despite each of the characters blank faces, they are surprisingly distinguishable. There are some scenes in dark woods where fire flies are floating about and look quite nice.
Although visually the game looks great, where it falls apart and drags the rest of the game down is with their animations. Whats apparent right away is the characters and the scenes don’t move a whole lot. It ends up just being a static portrait mostly with heads that shift their gaze to either side of the screen. There are moments where more effort is put into some animations near the end of the game. Unfortunately these moments are too far spread out to really have any lasting impact. As a result, I felt like I was just clicking away at pictures and not seeing much feedback from the game for my actions, taking away from the interactivity of it all.
From the sound department, all that’s really prevalent is music. Sound effects are good and used when needed. There is no voice acting to all dialogue is delivered in text, which is fine. Music is pretty nice, as it offers spooky, ambient moods through some trippy sounding melodies, and in some cases, pretty cool bass lines. However, there is only a handful of tracks scattered throughout the games six case, so they quickly start to sound familiar, however never becoming too repetitive.
The Darkside Detective failed to really draw me in to it’s distinct comedy. Although I appreciate it’s efforts, I didn’t feel satisfied from majority of the cases and writing found in this small package. Everything just felt like it went by too fast without any lasting impact, and the few occurrences where I actually thought things could have been funny, failed to make me laugh. Combined with the lack of animations, I felt the interactivity of the entire package was brought down because of this. The Darkside Detective seemed great on paper, and I loved the premise. I thought it had great potential, but once I had gotten through all six of the cases, I wasn’t quite satisfied with my journey to the end. I wouldn’t say not to buy it, as there seems to be those who have enjoyed the demo that is floating around. Lasting at around five hours, and at it’s low price, it’s not a bad investment if you are looking for something sweet and short to hold you over until another purchase. Although do know that Steam has other great point and click adventures for similar prices. I do hope we see a sequel, as I said, I feel like the characters and story had great potential, and would love to see them reworked in a better package in the future.
Disclaimer: This review was done using a Steam copy of The Darkside Detective provided by the game’s PR and Marketing Rep, PlayerTwo. Please be assured that this did not affect my opinion of the game, and that my criticisms are an honest and true representation of my thoughts on the game.