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Review: The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark

Review: The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark

Not actually an American football simulation at all!

The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark is the sequel to The Darkside Detective, a point-and-click adventure game. It is divided into cases, as was its predecessor. The case-based adventure game has become a subgenre of sorts, though I am not aware of its origins. (Oniria Crimes (diehealthy.org: “Review of Oniria Crimes) and Nobodies spring to mind. The latter is a different spin on point-and-click, in that the goal is to quietly dispose of corpses.)

Whatever the cause of the trend, it is a reasonable way to break up development and still create a cohesive game, as shown by The Darkside Detective and this sequel. Like the previous game (and like the others mentioned) there is usually some connection between cases, which makes each case feel like an episode rather than an isolated story to itself.

Here you play as Detective Francis McQueen, now-formerly of the Darkside Division of the Twin Lakes Police Department. The darkside isn’t a reference to the yin-aspect of the Star Wars force, but to an alternate dimension or parallel universe where things are kind of screwy (in a different way than they’re normally screwy). The darkside itself doesn’t feature as heavily or directly in this game as in the first one.

Each case follows the same basic shape that detective stories have since Sherlock Holmes first solved a case. There’s the exposition, in which we find out the nature of the case. There’s the rising action when we uncover clues as to who’s responsible or, in the case of point-and-clicks, we cobble together inventory items into solutions to puzzles. And finally, there’s the denouement, when we pull the disguise off of someone and they complain about us and our dog foiling their scheme.

Case locations include an older-peoples’ home (the grandmother of your sidekick, Dooley, lives there), Ireland (not the whole island, but a castle there, the ancestral home of your sidekick), a carnival, a pro-wrestling event, and your highschool reunion. There are also two bonus cases (with a third planned, according to the case selection screen). The first bonus is a nice time-travel case for Christmas (loosely after Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol), and the other is occasioned by your sidekick’s nephew being missing.

The writing has good humor to it, including some absurdity which I always enjoy. It does tend toward memery in places, but it’s not terribly online. The writing is British English, which is kind of strange at times given the game takes place in America. But it’s not really America is it? It’s a fictional America where British gamemakers have replaced America with a British imagining of an America—bizarro America—where supernatural things happen. In any case, the puzzles tend to the easy side, and are mostly logical.

It took me about 14 hours to complete eight cases and all the achievements. If you want an easy-ish, pixel-graphics adventure game, particularly one with light elements of supernatural themes, give it a look.


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