Dark Void Demo

I had a chance to play the Dark Void demo that was released online this week.  I’ve had my eye on this game since it was announced- it’s being developed by Airtight Games, the remnants of the team behind the awesome Crimson Skies; Capcom publishing meant that there would probably be a focus on fast paced, arcadey action; the setting seems pretty great- The Bermuda Triangle, the Rocketeer and Nikola Tesla all coming together for awesome aerial combat and RE4 style over-the-shoulder running and gunning.  Ultimately it didn’t disappoint, but there were a few problems.

The robotic enemy soldiers were mostly a breeze to fight, but the targeting seemed a bit off.  A lot of people complained about the fact that you can use you’re rocket pack while your on the ground- if you hit the wrong button you’ll rocket yourself right into a ceiling and die instantly.  That sells the reality of the situation to me, and added a bit of tension to the gameplay.

The flight controls in combat took a little bit of getting used to but once I did it was enjoyable enough- very few games seem to really convey the feeling of exhilaration one would hope to find in flight.  It reminded me of Star Wars: Starfighter actually, which isn’t in any way a condemnation, but that is certainly not the game you think of when you think edge-of-your-seat aerial combat.

The main character is yet another everyman in the Nathan Drake vein, and is in fact voiced by everyman actor extraordinaire Nolan North.  At this point it’s becoming a bit of a joke.

Also of note: Capcom is definitely playing on the nostalgic retro love that is bringing the aging gaming demographic to their games lately. They’re releasing a 2d retro platform version of the game that’s being pitched as the original game that this was based on.  Very cute, the game itself looks like it might play like NES era Capcom games Strider (not the arcade version) or Bionic Commando.  Bear McCreary, the composer of the “real” Dark Void, even pitches in a chip-tune version of the games’ soundtrack.

McCreary’s bombastic score is worth mentioning.  I’ve always thought of him as a bit of a one trick pony- the music he did for Battlestar Galactica seemed a bit of a happy accident.  I was not surprised at all to find that a lot of the over the top, rhythmic bombast that made BSG so memorable is here and distinctive not in that it differentiates itself from his previous work (it doesn’t) but that it really doesn’t sound like other game scores out there.

Finally, this demo was incredibly short.  Nothing more to say there, just goddamned short.  Based on the demo alone, I can’t say whether this game is really going to stand out amidst the crop of now-gen games that are hitting in 2010, but it hits a lot of the right notes for me personally.   Now if only it weren’t coming out a week before Mass Effect 2.