Friday, 31 August 2018 17:18

The Dark Inside Me Review

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There’s an old popular phrase, that comes in many varieties, but usually goes something like this: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Unfortunately, as journalists we have an obligation to report on the games we’re given access to — so we have to say something, and sometimes there’s nothing nice to say. Lucky for you, we played The Dark Inside Me so you don’t have to.  

One Nice Thing

I suppose I can find find at least one nice thing to say: The opening screen says that The Dark Inside Me is a one-man project, so that at least is impressive. Creating a game is not easy and it’s obvious that a lot of time and effort was put into the technical creation of this game. The opening cutscene looks nice and has a very strong Hellraiser feel to it, leading to a creative game menu where the options appear to be carved in a person’s body. Gruesome, but effective for setting the tone of what’s to come.

Also, the graphics aren’t horrible. Character models look slightly dated and the animation is sometimes stiff, but occasionally objects look pretty nice in pre-rendered scenes. The voice acting for the main character is reminiscent of infamous actor/director Tommy Wiseau, with that same unidentifiable, vaguely European accent and horrible delivery, except every line is said in a raspy whisper. Presentation does nothing to save the poor gameplay that follows the opening cutscene, however.

Hay in a Haystack

At its core, The Dark Inside Me is a classic point-and-click adventure, and comes with all of the same frustrations you expect from that genre. You enter an area with a fixed camera where you have very limited movement, either using WASD on the keyboard or clicking where you want to move with the mouse. From there, gameplay is nothing more than moving your cursor over every inch of the screen until you find an object you can interact with. The controls can be pretty finicky, and you might go over the same spot a few times before you hit just the right spot to know you can examine or pick up an item.

There were several times where I left an area, found I couldn’t advance anywhere else, and then maybe the third time that I went back to that first area I finally discovered the item I needed.

Even once you identify an item you think you can take or use, there are times where you might need to examine it two or three times and listen to poorly-voiced dialogue describing it before you can actually pick it up.

Once you’re done pixel hunting, the next challenge is figuring out what to do with the items you’ve found. There is slight logic to some of the puzzles, but you will very likely be searching online for the answers to most of them. There are a few instances where you pick up an item, like clothing, and the other items you need are actually inside of that one item. The game doesn’t tell you this, and you’ll have no idea until you open your inventory again and suddenly there they are. Just like finding the items, using them mainly consists of trying every item in your inventory on the environment and each other until something works.

Choose Wisely

Aside from walking around and moving your mouse all over the screen, there’s not much else you’ll be doing during the game. There are a few points where you will have an option about how to proceed, such as killing someone versus just knocking them unconscious, or injuring yourself to save someone versus letting them die — but with this being just the first chapter in a series, there’s no feedback on how these choices affect the story or if they even will. The game mostly seems to exist for the story, and that’s where the real problems begin.

Shlock Factor

I’m a long time horror fan and a military veteran — I am not easily offended and have seen some very disturbing things in entertainment media and in real life. Playing The Dark Inside Me made me feel… dirty.

This game depicts horrible acts, but doesn’t condemn them and almost seems to relish and glorify them. One early situation gives you a choice to knock a nurse unconscious or just outright murder her in your attempt to escape. If you choose the killing route, the swell of music is almost like a reward and your character seems to enjoy it. 

Just about every woman that appears in this game is either naked, or eventually gets there. Female characters seem to have some weird ability where when they are killed or knocked unconscious while fully clothed, their breasts then pop out of their shirt. It also needs to be noted that there are two separate scenes depicting women being sexually assaulted, plus another of what appears to be consensual sex, and lots of full-frontal nudity.

Some Roads You Shouldn’t Travel

Maybe I’m letting too many personal emotions come into this review, but as the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, the section of The Dark Inside Me that takes place in the Auschwitz concentration camp felt severely inappropriate. Yes, there is a section of the game set in Auschwitz. You will walk past the naked frozen bodies of dead men and women (mostly women, as this game seems to revel in showing naked, dead women). You see Nazi soldiers executing prisoners, and at one point you even accidentally activate a gas chamber with someone inside.

Sure, your character makes comments about how horrible it is in his weird whisper, but it never feels sincere. At the end the chapter, it’s not even clear what, if any, relevance this area has to the overall story. It’s never made clear what time period the previous and following sections occur in, but they seem to be modern times, based on some of the vehicles you see. It feels like this level only exists to be shocking and show more violence and nudity in the most inappropriate way.


The Verdict: Bad

I never imagined I would have to write this in a review, but rape is not drama. Rape is not entertainment. Yet here we are, with The Dark Inside Me featuring two scenes of rape minutes apart from each other, with no apparent purpose to the story other than to be shocking. This sums up the whole experience: a series of offensively shocking images and situations strung together by gameplay that consists of nothing more than moving your mouse over every inch of the screen until you find an item that you can interact with. That there aren’t any technical issues is a disappointment, as its crashing at the start screen would be an improvement.

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Brad Huffmanparent

Brad has loved gaming since he first picked up an Atari joystick in the late 70s, a fact that makes him feel really old right now.   He recently graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a BS in Game Design and Development /Interactive Storytelling.  He’s the co-founder / editor / writer of an indie comic studio, and is also working as a writer on an upcoming indie MMORPG. It’s probably easier to list the types of games he doesn’t play (RTS and sports) rather than the ones he does, although he wouldn’t turn away any game that you put in front of him.  He likes to think that even the worst games have some redeeming quality, and finds it a challenge to dig in and discover what aspect the developers thought would be fun and try to figure out what went wrong.