Dark Void Hands On Preview - Entering the Void
Written Sunday, December 13, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Dark Void throws you into the shoes of a cargo pilot, Will Grey, who on a clichéd trip through the Bermuda Triangle, crash lands and ends up on a journey into a parallel universe. Whilst in the “Void,” Will must use his trusty jetpack, some crazy alien technology and his newly acquired friends to help free them and himself of the grasp of the evil organic and sentient beings, the Watchers. The game’s broke up into three acts with the first act lasting about a couple of hours and it basically sets the scene and introduces you to the game’s mechanics.
Whilst essentially a third person shooter, if the game had to rely on those mechanics solely, it would be in the bargain bin in a matter of months. Dark Void’s selling points though are most definitely its flying mechanics and its vertical gameplay. Granted, the flying mechanic does take some time getting used to it, but once you’ve worked out its intricacies, you’ll be targeting the Watcher’s ships and bringing them down in no time whatsoever. Anyone who’s played Crimson Skies will be more than familiar with the controls here.
New to the game, and possibly any game to my recollection, is the vertical combat which twists the combat axis on its head and has you fighting as you hang from ledges and look up towards the skies. Whilst the mechanic is fairly simplistic, taking the gunplay to a new dimension is something that feels fresh. There isn’t much to the mechanic in fact, but the new perspective on proceedings actually felt quite fun. Disorientating, but fun and it definitely gave you a sense of vertigo at times. The controls allow you to move from platform to platform using A, melee a Watcher on the other side of the platform using X, and the obligatory lean-out-of-cover-to-fire using the left and right triggers.
Seeing as the game is a shooter at its heart, I suppose we should talk a little about the game’s arsenal, which is surprisingly limited. However, there is a little variation to the standard stock. There are six weapons with a plasma-esque twist that include the rifle, shotgun, sniper, and a few choice alien technologies that when fully upgraded are absolutely devastating. The one plasma rifle shoots an energy ball that kills any enemy around it on its way through. For each weapon there are a few choice upgrades as well, 3 with each, and that’s where you’ll end up spending the credits you earn from killing the alien folk.
The standard enemies you’ll encounter in Dark Void consist of the Mass Effect geth-esque, Watcher sentient robots and some, what only can be explained as land-based skate with large gnashers –yes, the fish. We also got chance to face off against a few Knights, who can be described as floating squids who’ll fire plasma at you, and some ginormous robot scorpion... I know, we’re terrible with names. Again, these encounters with the enemies aren’t really that fun unless you’re fully utilising the jetpack. Of course, when you’re also using the jetpack you’ll have a bevy of spaceships to take down, or even jack using some horribly over-used quick-time-events.
Dark Void looks to add a little innovation into a third person shooter genre with its jetpack and vertical gameplay; however I fear that if the game is left to rely on its third person shooter mechanics, it’ll be a title that will most certainly be overshadowed by titles already on the market. At such a late stage in the development process the game didn’t seem to be as polished as we’d hoped either and with it only boasting around 8-10 hours of gameplay, we have a feeling that it’ll go largely unnoticed when it ships in January 2010 – something we’ll have more of an idea of when we have the final version in our grasps. There is hope, but after playing through the whole of the first act (of three) and spending most of the time with an average third person shooter mechanic, we’re very sceptical. Keep an eye out for our official word in early January.
Dark Void is out on January 12th and January 15th in North America and Europe respectively.