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Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Darkside Detective [Reecey]

The Darkside Detective.

(Review by Reecey.)

I like American style detectives.

You know the kind, shabbily dressed, trench coat, crappy office, bad jokes, looks like they’ll talk about a dame being obviously trouble from the moment that she walked in …

One day, the law allowing women to marry fictional robot men will be passed.

... the whole Noir shebang. Maybe it’s because I watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit a lot as a child, or maybe I’m a reincarnated pair of legs with a cigarette holder, but whatever it is, it just speaks to me.

So when I see a game that has a shabby trench coat wearing detective called McQueen in it who is fighting supernatural crime on Steam, it’s a match made in heaven.

I was not disappointed, I can promise you that.

Yeah, it wasn’t the most Noir thing that I’ve ever experienced, but it makes up for that by being incredibly funny.

A lot of the humour in the game comes from McQueen’s assistant Officer Dooley. A guy who honestly makes you wonder why he’s even in the police for the entire game.

So our main character McQueen ends up being the straight man for a lot of the game, despite being also full of ridiculous jokes of his own. Like when he makes puns, interrogates a bear or threatens to take the moon down to the station for questioning because it’s shown up to multiple crime scenes.

And you thought I was lying for comedic effect.

I personally found that the humour was all right on the nose. Sure, there was a fair amount of referencing going on, like to the Doctor Who episode Blink and Moffat beating that once sprightly horse into the ground, but it was all genuinely funny as opposed to just stating that a thing exists.

It probably helps that most of the referential humour that’s stated outright comes from Dooley, and characters making pop-culture references to each other reflects how people actually talk.

I say most, because the chief of police is a redheaded woman named Scully. So you know what’s going on there.

The game’s story is really just six episodes with loose connections to each other. I suppose I was expecting a larger overarching story that would climax in the sixth episode, but, to be honest, the way the game actually works is perfectly fine. The lack of some great Moriarty style villain or Machiavellian scheme helps keeps things light and breezy.

Which this game is all about. Light and breezy is the name of the game, well, would be if it didn’t already have quite a good one.

There are no murders, guns only show up once, a guy hang-glides off a water tower…It kind of reminds me of how Fireman Sam only ever had one fire in it, in a strange way.

So, you may be wondering a little at the title. What is the Darkside?

Well, it’s the magical other world that things like magic largely come from. The Darkside Division, that seems to be just McQueen and Dooley, has been tasked with preventing and solving crimes that involve magic, mysticism and the influence of the Darkside.

For its own part, the Darkside has the Brightside Division, which does basically the same thing in reverse. It’s a touch that I particularly like about the game.

We do actually get to visit the Darkside during the game, and it’s a fun experience, for as short an experience as it is.

The Darkside also has Noir era toughs in it, and I love Noir era toughs almost as much as I love Noir era American detectives. Actually, I might like them more, so the last case was virtually tailor made for me, aside from the lack of robots of course.

The cases are, in short, missing child, ghosts in a library, swapped trains, gremlins in a police station, missing Dooley and a zombie apocalypse caused by floating gangsters.

Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett playing chess.

These stories are both more and less stupid than they sound.

The gameplay is your standard point and click, thankfully the sort where you don’t need the character to walk around the screen, because those can get really annoying sometimes. I’m looking at you, Broken Sword.

(Editor's Note: The Broken Sword goat puzzle is the Demyx of point-and-click games.)

Speaking of Broken Sword, I actually didn’t have much trouble with the puzzles in The Darkside Detective. They were all pretty intuitive and I only needed to refer to the internet once when I was totally lost and needed a hair pin.

(It was in the one place I didn’t look. Typical.)

If you like point and click adventure games, and have a refined sense of humour, then The Darkside Detective is definitely worth a look.

I’m going to doubly recommend it because I’d really like to see more set in this universe, and they do say in the credits that they might do a sequel if there’s enough interest in this one, so go buy it!

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