(2K for Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano
The Darkness is the new standard for storytelling in a video game. Never before has a game told a story with such confidence and clarity.
Depending on your taste, the trials and adventures of characters in other games may resonate deeper than that of The Darkness‘ mafia hitman/demon puppet Jackie Estacado, but there are few games that can compete when it comes to bringing their stories to life with this much impact. Guiding Jackie as he snuggles up with his girlfriend on the couch of her new apartment, knowing that he’s the target of a citywide conspiracy, or watching the ghosts of children run through the bombed-out halls of Jackie’s old orphanage – these are fully-realized in-game scenarios that flesh out a story that’s more involved than other, lesser developers even bother to imagine. That the creators hired Mike Patton and a host of other professionals to do voice work, and used loading screens as an opportunity to have Jackie tell his story through monologues are further testament to the game’s storytelling success at every level.
The devotion to telling Jackie’s story unfortunately takes precedent over some of the gameplay elements – targeting, whether with your weapons or Darkness powers, is a big issue, and multi-player won’t hold your interest for long. None of these gripes are enough to diminish the core single-player experience, however, which stands among the best in a year already crammed with A-list game narratives.