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Review: Darkest of Days

May 7, 2013

Well, we appear to be back. Things got a little crazy here, but the short version is, my father finally did get disability (and I do mean finally, he got the money he was owed just a couple of weeks ago), and we have since moved. So, things are going good, and I feel confident in starting in on the reviews again.

I will say this for Darkest of Days: it has an interesting concept. You play a member of the 7th Cavalry who went missing during the Battle of Little Big Horn, pulled out of his own time to go make right what once went wrong. So, the base idea is Quantum Leap: The FPS. Somehow, though, it never quite comes together.

The game as a whole feels kind of rushed, especially when it comes to storytelling. This is a ten hour game, and there doesn’t seem to be much replay value in it, because the story is the same no matter what order you do it in. Be prepared for me to spoil the entire game, by the way.You play Alexander Morris, pulled into the 2100s to become the latest agent of KronoteK, due to the unclear nature of his ultimate fate, or in the company’s parlance, a “historical MIA”. Accompanying you on most missions is Agent Dexter, who is implied to have been an off duty New York City firefighter who vanished during the 9/11 attacks. Also, he has a mild southern accent, because that’s normal.

The time travel initially revolves around two men, Union Corporal Welsh and an Imperial Russian officer named Petrovich, during the battles of Antietam and Tannenburg, respectively, all while other time traveling assholes try to kill you. I’m going to skip to the end, because the game more or less does. You catch up with the scientist behind the technology to travel through time painting Mt. Vesuvius erupting from a hill outside Pompeii, because he’s apparently a goddamn loon with no sense of self-preservation. He takes a time bubble to the arena in Pompeii, and you have to fight through a metric fuckton of those other future assholes to get to him, at which point you get a future flamethrower. I’m not going to lie; this was one of the best parts of the game. I was mumbling like TF2’s Pyro the entire time.

You bring the scientist back to the facility, where another scientist who had been making periodic appearances throughout the game shows up and asks him if it’s wrong to use time travel to prevent horrible events. The hedonism-bot sounding doctor says no, that tragedies in our lives grant us inner strength, and before he can elaborate on that, he gets shot in the chest and head.

And then the story flies off the fucking tracks.

In a twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan envious, it turns out that the people you’ve been busting your ass trying to save all game are the ancestors of scientists who created a DNA sequencer that can target ethnicity which is stolen by Middle Eastern terrorist scientists and use to create a virus that wipes out two billion people with European heritage, and the guys trying to kill you all game are future KronoteK agents trying to prevent the attack.

My God, does that sound dumb all typed out.

Dexter turns to you, asks what you want to do, and the game ends. Well, ends doesn’t seem like the right word. It’s more like it just stops, because they clearly had more story to tell, but were hanging it out as sequel bait. Sort of like the live-action Super Mario Brothers movie where Daisy shows up right the fuck out of nowhere at the end.

– – – End Spoilers – – –

The first ninety percent of the game is really pretty fun. So few games even try time travel as a game mechanic, and even fewer make it the focus of the plot. The levels are fairly interesting, notables being the second Antietam level and Stalag Luft III, the futuristic weapons are pretty neat and the period weapons faithfully done, and combat feels fairly well balanced. But holy shit that ending. Darkest of Days is twenty dollars on Steam, but it is so not worth it. I’d wait for it to get down to half price, and even then it’s only worth it if you are really into time travel.

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