Review by omni_mech
"Good game, BAD god to revere. Very bad."
Cthulhu is here?! Oh, no!
Oh, yes. He's here, and he doesn't so much drive me mad as he does totally frustrate me. Dark Corners is a first person survival horror game set in the 1920's, and it draws heavily from the miriad works of H.P. Lovecraft, one of the most influential writers of horror and "weird fiction" of the 20th century.
The game is set in Innsmouth, a small-ish fishing town in New England. Your character is Jack Walters, a private detective with an odd history, and even odder abilities. You are drawn into a plot of mystery and investigation as you search for Brian Burnham, a young man who has gone missing from his store as of late.
Things soon take a turn for the worse, though, and Jack is thrown into various horrifying and shocking situations.
This game is beautiful. The whole premise of the game is fear. And as Lovecraft said, "the oldest and most primal emotion of man is fear, and the oldest and most primal kind of fear is fear of the unknown." The lighting effects in this game are excellent, and the textures are also very impressive. Bullet holes stay where they are, water ripples the way it should, and there are some areas that look almost like photographs.
There are some minor clipping issues, though, and the character models could have been polished a little more (Jack's hands are HIDEOUS), but overall, this game is a very good looking play.
The spooky sounds you'd expect from a game based on the Cthulhu Mythos abound, the gunshots echo in large rooms, and everything comes together smoothly. What really takes the cake is the WAY sound is presented. You can hear the insane prisoner from down the street, but you can't tell from where it comes from. Combine that with the shadows and lighting, and you have a relatively mundane situation made scary.
And as you begin to lose your mind, Jack starts talking to himself, and whispering his thoughts, "I'm gonna die...", "There's something following me...". Add that in to the top-notch voice acting, and you have a great sounding game.
This is where the issues that this game has appear. The game is NOT for the Halo or Doom junkie. You don't even get a gun until you are 30% through. But that is besides the point. The setup is that of an FPS, but with significant differences.
The health system is one of the more unique ones I've seen, but I don't think it was done quite right. Each area of your body takes damage on its own, affecting movement speed, aiming accuracy and other factors. Your wounds bleed, and can kill you if left untreated for long enough. This is the first instance of the games incredible difficulty. If you take a bullet to your leg, and you are all out of stitches, it's GAME OVER.
Another problem is that goals are far too easy to overlook. You will die ALOT of times as you try to figure out some of the puzzles in this game. This detracts greatly from the feel the game is trying to portray, and can get quite frustrating.
The sanity systems are where the game's innovation really comes through. Similar to the way Eternal Darkness worked, seeing terrible things or being in tense situations will take their toll on Jack's mind. He suffers from vertigo, parinoia, and all sorts of other maladies of the mind. Let him fall too far, and he kills himself, simple as that. Most of the terror in this game comes from the insanity that pluages Jack in the mid to late stages of the game.
When you've played through it once, you've played through it a thousand times. The path you take is quite linear, so you can't really take different approaches in subsequent plays, and since the game is heavily story based, you know exactlly what will happen the next time you start the game up.
All in all, this game is a good one, with original elements and a solid presentation. It has some issues, but the strengths out weigh the flaws.
Rent or Buy?
If you are a Lovecraft fan, buy this one. It has a good, true to the Mythos story, and would make any game collection of a reader proud.
Rent this otherwise. Its low replayability and steep difficulty could drive some away from it, but at least play through it once. It will give you the heebie-jeebies, I promise you.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 10/31/05
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