By DEV CROWLEY
There is something truly special about indie horror games. AAA horror games have many rules they need to follow when it comes to appeasing the public, but indie games get to do just about anything they want to do. They can be as strange and artistic as they desire and many times that’s what creates a cult classic. In addition, there has been a recent rise in adventure puzzle titles like Little Nightmares and Inside that have gripped gamers with simple gameplay, beautiful graphics and dark themes. Initially released in December 2020, we can add DARQ: COMPLETE EDITION to the rankings.
DARQ: COMPLETE EDITION was developed by Unfold Games and published by Feardemic. It follows a Tim Burton extra by the name of Lloyd. Each chapter unfolds as he lies in bed and begins to lucid dream. Each dream takes you to a new and wondrous monochromatic location where you must solve intricate puzzles to help Lloyd back to consciousness. You visit places like a hospital, a suburban street, a theater, and a moving train. Through each location, you have to find the way back to his consciousness and not get caught by the disturbing creatures that roam and stalk the darkest recesses of his mind. Many of the bizarre monsters remind me of something out of the 2005 film MirrorMask, and all of them are terrifying but beautiful. One of my favorites is a human body sitting in a wheelchair with the face of a tuba which can only move by the force of its blows.
What makes this edition different from its original release is the inclusion of The Tower and The Crypt DLC levels. While the Tower is pretty similar to the other gameplay, The Crypt takes DARQ to a whole new level of creepy. The character design in this game reminds me of the Figaro Pho cartoon with big, bulbous heads and bean pole bodies. While the story is simple and the graphics are creepy and beautiful, the real star of the show is the gameplay. Keep in mind, the entire game is only about an hour long (add an additional half-hour for the DLC) and the puzzles aren’t very difficult. There are a few puzzles that may take a couple of tries and the monsters aren’t hard to avoid. That being said, there is never a dull moment.
The mapping system is small, but DARQ makes use of every square inch of its available space by bending the laws of gravity. Most walls or ledges won’t mark the end of the map but a pivot point that turns the map 90 or 180 degrees, opening areas that weren’t available before. The game moves you vertically or horizontally to different areas, which is an ingenious way to make a small map feel a hell of a lot bigger. Sometimes it is easy to miss a wall or a pivot point, but I adore DARQ’s mapping system.
DARQ: COMPLETE EDITION is a great addition to anyone’s horror game collection and a great way to kill an hour or two. While the ending is a tad confusing and doesn’t really offer a whole lot of catharsis in terms of wrapping the story up in a nice bow, when you’re dealing with a game about navigating a young boy’s subconscious, there aren’t a whole lot of rules to follow. DARQ gets two thumbs up from me and I’d advise anyone to play it.
DARQ: COMPLETE EDITION, developed by Unfold Games and published by Feardemic, is available now on consoles and Steam.