These Vampires Suck
I was really excited when I found out Iíd be reviewing Realmforge Studiosí stealthy vampire RPG Dark. Iíd written a preview for the game a few months ago, and while I had some concerns about a few things at the time, I was confident that if nothing else itíd be a great way to kill some time with an arsenal of awesome powers. I mean come on, throwing aside the vampires of recent teen fiction, who wouldnít want to hop in to the head of one of historyís most famous paranormal creatures? Super strength? Transformation? Heightened senses and reflexes? I want all of those things. Unfortunately Dark never did the one thing that should have been the easiest given its basic premise. It never made me feel cool. Realmforge Studios found a way to make vampires suck in more than the way theyíre supposed to.
Darkís story revolves around a man named Eric Bane who, at the gameís opening, finds himself awaking from a blackout in a noisy club. While this probably isnít a situation foreign to some of the more adventurous among us, things get interesting when heís told that not only is he a vampire now, but that everyone in the club is as well. Ericís day is made even worse when Rose, the clubís owner, calmly informs him that if he doesnít drink the blood of either the vampire who turned him or a powerful older vampire his mind will degenerate until heís a feral animal. That might not sound completely terrible, but it never really goes anywhere. Most of the game consists of Eric trying to get the blood he needs, but that driving force falls short due to the fact that they never really give me a reason to care about Bane. To be honest it was quite the opposite; I found myself at best indifferent to most of the characters in the game, while at worst wishing I could shadow-punch them in the face like I did so many generic guards.
Speaking of characters, what I found to be easily the most offensive part of the game were the conversations with other people. The game is filled with some of the worst voice acting Iíve ever heard. I will say that the main character, voiced by Doug Cockle of The Witcher fame, does a good enough job. I wasnít wowed, but I wasnít really let down either. Itís all downhill from there though. I understand when a game has some of the more obscure NPCs questionably voiced, but two of the first vampires players meet in the game (and who are a continuing presence) made me want to rip the speakers off my wall and beat my ears with them like a crazed chimpanzee. One speaks like heís fresh off the set of Jersey Shore (Hey bro! Whoa, sick bro!), and the other literally sounds like she is reading her lines for the very first time. I realize that vampires are cold, often detached creatures, but that doesnít mean they need to speak like a high school student recording an audio book for extra credit afraid that showing any emotion at all will make them look lame in front of their friends. When telling someone the life they knew was over and they need to find one of a small number of vampires or face damnation as a mindless ghoul I donít think itís too much to ask to sound at least attentive. Also, I donít normally comment on lip syncing, but I have literally seen more accurate syncing in dubbed kung-fu movies. I wish that was hyperbole, but it isnít.
The vampiric powers are fun and the game doesnít stray from being a stealth game.
Laughable dialogue writing and animation, frequently clunky controls, uninteresting characters.