Review: The Darkside Detective (Nintendo Switch)

The Darkside Detective: Official GBAtemp Review

Nintendo Switch 1,525 view 7 likes 5 comments
Reviewed by Tim Larsson, posted Feb 18, 2018
Feb 18, 2018
  • Release Date (NA): February 7, 2018
  • Release Date (EU): February 7, 2018
  • Publisher: Isometric Dreams
  • Developer: Spooky Doorway
  • Genres: Point-and-Click, Adventure, Indie
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone
  • PEGI Rating: Three years and older
  • Also For: Computer
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
A horror comedy micro adventure game oozing with nostalgic references to TV and literature, that was born from a demo made in 8 hours at a game jam. Does it sound interesting? Let's find out!
Tim Larsson

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After the success of a demo created in less than 8 hours at a game jam in Galway, Ireland in 2014, the team started to develop the full game that would become The Darkside Detective - a humoristic Point-and-Click adventure game with nostalgic references to older games, TV shows, movies and literature. Does it hold up to be a full game?

A micro adventure!

The game consists of 6 stand alone cases for you to play through, with the later ones referencing the earlier cases sometimes. The developers themselves calls the game a micro-adventure game, and that would make these cases micro-micro-adventures (nano-adventures?) when you consider the length of them. The game is very simple, your character stands with his partner on a static screen, and you can click on some stand out elements to read funny dialogue about it, and clicking on a door or similar objects transports you to another static screen. There is no other movement going on which is making the game much quicker to play, because you don't have to wait for your character to walk to the object you want to pick up. Since there is no voice acting, and if you are a quick reader, the dialogue doesn't take up that much time either - so the game is very streamlined and feels quick to play because of it. Considering I completely beat the first case in 16 minutes including reading everything carefully, learning the controls and getting a feel for the game in general, it not only feels quick - it is quick.

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As mentioned, there is 6 cases to play through, and I did so in a whooping 3 hours and 20 minutes. This is my biggest complaint, that it's very short, but the reason behind that complaint is that I wish there was more - I had so much fun. The humor is great, I really laughed out loud a few times and all the references to pop culture classics made me fuzzy inside. The police chief Scully (Dana Scully from The X-Files), the ghosts of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams playing chess, H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe bickering about whose stories are scarier, Gremlins wreaking havoc and Poundsmart the clown (Pennywise from Stephen King's It) are all found in the city of Twin Lakes (Twin Peaks). They even managed to squeeze in a few sexual jokes in this game even though it's rated E, and they did so skillfully by hiding the jokes in plain sight. Adults understand the adult jokes, the innocent kids don't (or shouldn't (hopefully (poor kids))).

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In this short game they still managed to create a world with many interesting elements, including a parallell dimension where having feet and not being translucent green is considered to be disgustingly weird (The Darkside). It is such a shame you don't get to explore the world freely, and the whole world and its elements are very underused in general. If there was a bigger case where you go to the library to do one thing, go to the police station to do something else, transport to the parallell dimension in the subway, and then go to the Darkside version of the library to progress - it would feel so fulfilling.

The game looks good for what it sets out to do. It has a low resolution style, so the retro indie pixels looks huge. It is not impressive, but suits the micro-adventure style well and looks great for that reason. The sound is really nice too, but no track really stuck in my mind since, again, the game is so very short - the music didn't have time to get stuck. The game is very self aware when it comes to the graphics too, when the in game characters talks about how lazy the artists were to reuse assets, that more furniture exists "off camera", and that they only are a bunch of pixels.

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One technical issue appeared when playing in docked mode was that some puzzles just didn't work as they were supposed to: using the cursor to guide cables through a grid system, but after a while dragging the cursor in one direction made the cable go in another. See images below. The cursor was also way too slow in docked mode compared to handheld mode, so I really recommend playing this exclusively in handheld mode!

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I had so much fun, but I can't really recommend it at the current price ($13 / €12 / £11.69). The issue is the length, and they could have padded the game slightly with the use of voice actors. Actually, voice acting could have added an extra flavor to the already funny dialogue.

Check out the latest trailer!

Verdict
Pros
+ The humor is brilliant
+ Interesting world
+ Nice music
Cons
- Way too short
- Some minor issues
- Too simple
- Lacks voice acting
7 Presentation
Love-it-or-hate-it graphics. It's indie retro pixels. Suits this game well, but isn't anything all too impressive. Everything is very clean and works well for this kind of game though, you won't ever need to go pixel hunting to find something hidden in the background. The music is great, a little bit spooky and fits the mood well. A fantastic world which sadly isn't utilized enough.
4 Gameplay
Very simple Point-and-Click action. It is functional, but extremely simple. There were never any confusion on what to do, and what could be interacted with. Very easy puzzles though.
3 Lasting Appeal
I completed the game, 100% in less than three and a half hour - and I wasn't rushing. Six linear cases with no branching paths and no other reasons to replay any of them. Once you're done, you're done and there's nothing more to experience.
5
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Heartwarming nostalgia and brilliantly stupid humor, mixed with a nice soundtrack and suitable retro pixels in a way too short experience. The handful of chuckles from appreciation just isn't worth the asking price - there's just too little of a game, which is a shame since the world holds so much potential!
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