You could argue that 2Dark, as a title, has three meanings. Firstly, it could be a not so subtle reference to the game’s creator Frédérick Raynal, who also created Alone in the Dark. You know, before it became the bloated, decaying corpse of franchise we know and loath today. Perhaps Raynal has some kind of fixation on the darkness?
The second meaning could be linked to the gritty subject matter 2Dark tackles. It’s a grim tale of a detective going off the books to investigate a child abduction and trafficking ring in an undying quest to rescue his own children who were kidnapped years prior. Needless to say, 2Dark is a game for grown-ups. Be warned.
However, the most logical reason for the title 2Dark would be the graphics: it’s too bloody dark. 2Dark4Me. The core game play out as a stealth adventure. Detective Smith must infiltrate different areas around Gloomywood, sneaking past/brutally murdering an asylum’s worth of psychopaths to rescue the kidnapped children, escorting them back to the start of the level.
Of course, it wouldn’t be called 2Dark without some dimly lit lairs to navigate. Players must use a torch to reveal what hides in the darkness, with booby traps and gun-toting maniacs waiting to brutally murder Smith for his troubles.
The issue is that certain traps almost blend in with the level’s environment, making them practically invisible. The first level in particular contains more than enough instant kill bottomless pits to frustrate into turning the game off entirely. Trying to distinguish between the floor and a death pit shouldn’t be this hard.
Oftentimes, it isn’t completely clear how to proceed to the next area, or to free the young ones from their captivity. You could spend an agonising amount of time wandering the level looking for a switch, a clue or something of that ilk. The fault has to lie squarely on the art style for failing to aid the distinction between the interactive and non-interactive set dressing.
When it comes to actually engaging with the enemy, the best course of action is to not bother. Unless you have a gun and plenty of ammo, head-on engagements will almost always end poorly. This is mostly due to the melee weapons being intentionally ineffective, but it sure doesn’t help that the twin stick controls feel rather clunky.
Escorting the children has issues of its own. The kids follow the exact path Smith takes, but run scared if they come into close proximity to a dead body. Events take a Benny Hill type of turn as you start chasing children, offering candy to get them to follow you. Yes, a strange man offer candy to children and he’s the protagonist.
Ultimately, 2Dark is a game brave enough to tackle a deeply disturbing subject matter, but it’s unfortunately hampered by lacklustre controls, infuriating design and frustrating gameplay. Guess the kids won’t be alright in the end.