I didn’t really follow Dark Void a whole lot before it was released because frankly I wasn’t all that excited about it. I was fairly certain of two things:
1) - Your character has a jet pack
2) - Your character is voiced by Nolan North
Having now played through the game I can confirm that yes indeed, both of those things are true. Sadly I can also confirm that I had good reason to not be very excited about this game.
The core idea behind Dark Void is “hey aren’t jet packs awesome?!” Well, they most certainly are, so this really can’t go wrong can it? Well if Rocketeer and Jingle All the Way have taught us anything, it’s that the presence of a jet pack means nothing if everything that surrounds it is not entertaining.
The first few minutes show promise as it introduces the jet pack and the possibilities that lie ahead. Then the game does something strange…it takes the jet pack away from you. Not only that, but it takes it away from you for a long while. It’s a good hour and a half before you get that thing back. While you are waiting, you basically just play a version of Uncharted that’s not nearly as good as actual Uncharted.
So despite the jet pack on the cover, you spend the first 90 minutes of Dark Void running through the jungle and various corridors, taking part in a fairly generic third person shooter. All the mechanics you would expect make an appearance. Taking cover, blind fire, melee, you know the drill. It’s completely routine and since your melee attack is so strong, you can usually just run up to each and every enemy and take them down right away. Not that engaging overall. I will say that the noises the bullets make when they hit these bad guys, well they make you feel pretty damn good.
Eventually you get a pack that can hover, but not fly. It’s a step-up though as this introduces one unique mechanic – vertical shooting. This is actually an interesting feature. The basics of the cover system don’t change, however now you are of course shooting bad guys while scaling up or down the walls. It’s a little dizzying, and I can see why some people are experiencing motion sickness during these sequences, but it’s fairly unique and I’m always in favour of tossing bad guys off cliffs, which of course you can do here.
Finally though you get the jet pack and this is when you expect the entire game to really open up, and at first it kind of does. The flying mechanics work well once you get a hang of them and it’s immensely satisfying to swoop down towards enemies, hover in the air while you blast them away, and then take off.
It doesn’t take long however for the fun to once again die down. The flying missions start to grow stale and some of them just drag on and on and on. There are a couple missions near the end where you are protecting a ship that I was legitimately afraid may never end.
To shake things up a little during the flying sequences, you can hop into other crafts, most notably UFO’s. The first time you hijack a UFO and take it for a spin, it’s a fun little surprise. The 20th time you do it however…well that will probably be the last time since you need 20 for the achievement. Trust me after going through the same hijacking sequence (hold b, dodge enemy fire, hold b, thrust joystick left and right) that many times, you won’t want to even bother with the UFO’s. You will gladly accept death over trying to hop into one of those things.
The game is also quite short and unless you really, really want to keep upgrading weapons, or maybe get those missing achievement points, I see no reason to play through it again. I was pretty eager for the game to end the first time around, although when I beat what turned out to the final boss, I couldn’t help but think “really? That’s it?” The game just sort of stops.
There are also some weird glitches throughout the experience. Not once but twice I went to melee a bad guy who was on a slightly higher platform than me, only to fall through the ground and into space. Turning the jet pack on did nothing and I eventually died. There are also audio glitches such as skipping and…I’m not even sure what you would call it but everything sounds static-y. If these things only happened once it could maybe be overlooked, but they are recurring issues throughout the entire game.
I suppose I should say something positive and I actually do have something I can speak kindly about – the music. The music in this game is fantastic. I’m actually debating a purchase of the just announced OST, that’s how good it is.
I think that pretty much sums up Dark Void. There’s potential here, but everything gets so stale so quickly. I can’t say that anything is done poorly; the game in itself is fine. That’s the problem however, it’s just fine. I would never recommend you run out and play it, as there are many far better games you could be playing right now.