Reviewed: September 28, 2009
Released: September 8, 2009
What do you get when you mix time travel, futuristic weapons and two of the bloodiest battles in the history of mankind? What you get is a new PC title called Darkest of Days, which aptly describes the games contents as well as my feeling for this first-person shooter by developer 8monkey Labs.
I love first person shooters, quite a bit actually, to the point that I will try almost any title at least once. Darkest of Days, based off the information on the back of the box, sounds like a rather promising game. Even the thought of getting yanked out of your time to rescue people in the American Civil War with an assault rifle sounds fun. But while I did enjoy parts of this title, I was left with tattered dreams.
You play as one, Alexander Morris a misfit of time as you are yanked from an altered Custer’s Last Stand by a futuristically armored agent and sent packing through a bubble that sounds like an insect hitting a bug zapper when it triggers. You are tasked via “Mother,” apparent current head of Kronotek, to find the missing “Father of Time” and preserve time by rescuing apparently important figures in WWI and the American Civil War from certain death. Sounds like fun right?
Darkest of Days features the usual screen layout for most FPS out there so nothing new to see there. Controls are pretty decent for a FPS although I am not a fan of using the mouse to cycle through my weapons especially since I am very prone to do so accidentally right in the middle of a fight. Players can chose to use the brackets on the keyboard which I found to be better, but I miss the usual 1-4 switching seen in most other FPS titles.
One of the other things that I found odd was that Darkest of Days supports an Xbox 360 controller, which in itself is pretty standard by now, but unfortunately in all my attempts to use one it failed every time. Sure I could use it in the menu but not the actual game. You can play Darkest of Days perfectly well with the standard keyboard and mouse though.
The story takes you across countryside, cornfield, and trenches and near one nasty volcano. The level design is decent though there are a lot of invisible walls. Just when you think you can get a drop on your foes, you are blindsided by a wall. The levels design is okay other than the walls. The AI however is a different story all together. Often times the enemies will run right past you to take a position and then start firing, giving you time to take them out somewhat easily.
On the flipside of individual AI, I will compliment on the Marmoset engine which allows for 300 characters to be on the screen at one time. This makes for some cool fights including some authentic Civil War fire lines. Though I don’t think doing it with an Assault Rifle is quite what the history books say. The developers had to have taken great care to research the historical facts of two of the bloodiest battles in history. We have the Battle of Antietam during the Civil War and the Battle of Tannenberg during World War I. The first battle you actually take part in is Custer’s Last Stand which is probably inaccurate for a reason. Fighting on a hill seems so much cooler than in a field.
Graphically, Darkest of Days is bittersweet. The character models are actually pretty decent. The detail on their clothing and their faces are pretty good. The timepiece weaponry looks good as well as a few things in the almost empty Kronotek “hub” location. But that really hurts this title is the environment. There are parts that look fine but one look at the trees or some of the ground textures and it can be ugly. I did enjoy some of the explosions especially the ones caused by the RPG type weapon that reminded me of the surface-to-surface missile launcher in Call of Duty 4.
Darkest of Days has some decent voice acting particularly from Agent Dexter who you meet up with regularly through out your time travel escapades. The sound of explosions as well as the firing of the guns sounds decent at best and the background music is okay. The music on the rather bland menu screen is perhaps the only bit of music that I liked.
Darkest of Days is a tale of time travel and all the implications of what happens when you mess with it. There is no multiplayer available so you have to take the single player for what is. The story is a decent one, touching upon several life events including one that hit America and struck us to the core. Personally for me there is little reason to return to this title aside to watch the opening video, which was kind of cool.
All in all, Darkest of Days is just a sub par first person shooter with a few good attributes. I did enjoy using futuristic weaponry in different eras; I liked the historical sense of battles and the story. The somewhat poor graphics, and non working controller support hinders the overall package. There is no way that I can actually justify the $40 dollar price tag of this title. I recommending waiting until it drops in price or at least download the demo first before buying it.