2010 Reviews

Dark Void

  • Review Date: 2014-02
  • Release Date: 2010-01
  • Developer: Airtight Games
  • Rating: 6.5

An Unreal Engine 3.0 based mix of alien and sci-fi. A story involving a war between aliens and humans in an in-between world within the Burmuda Triangle known as the Void. A mix of third person shooting and jet pack flight gameplay. You would think the ingredients result in a great game. But it's not the case. The effort, the budget, the talent - whatever the reason, Dark Void ends up being a completely average experience where most areas of the game just feel lacklustre.

Let's start with the story. You're a cargo pilot named Will, with female companion, and crash into the Void through the Bermuda Triangle prior to WWII. There you find a battle against other humans against the alien race that have a major advantage in technology. Sounds like a good adventure story, but it never really excites at all. Part because the sound is so haywire and I couldn't even hear the characters speaking most of the time. You simply plod along doing whatever tasks you never really care about, until a very poor ending.

The design starts out well, with the rocky overgrown wilderness of the Void, before temples are introduced and finally a lot of sci-fi and tech takes over the later stages. But the sci-fi is bland, in fact the design actually feels like early Halo games with the average bland tech mixed with outdoors. It was off to a good start, but the design gets boring after a while. However, there are some nice setpieces are very large areas to play in, especially when you're flying around.

The usual UE3 overdose of post processing comes with Dark Void. Terrible depth of field turning everything at a distance into a blur and HDR blooming everywhere. Models, on the other hand, can look a bit basic.

Like the design, the gameplay gets off to a decent start. I enjoyed the first chapter (of three). You only get several weapons throughout the game, and will only be able to afford a few upgrades, so you'll probably apply the upgrades to the first two weapons you get and that'll be it. Two weapons used throughout. I tried the other weapons and they seemed useless. The rifle with a zoom was impossible to aim as the zoom jumped everywhere instead of being a smooth transition.

Then you get the jetpack. At first it's okay, you can use it to jump and glide short distances, which later become even bigger distances. But then comes the upgrade, a full jetpack turning this game into a flight simulator. Not a good one, either. The controls to manage flight are absolutely hideous. You can't possibly try to initiate your jetpack in anywhere other than huge open areas, because it's shoot you off uncontrollably and launches you like a pinball wizard off every object around you until you're dead, with little chance of trying to recover. Trying to do a turn forever. You can fighting an enemy ship, as it flies past you by the time you've managed to turn out to see it it's already turned around itself and has flown back past you. Enemies seem to have far better flight control.

You're also constantly moving forwards quite quickly. The jetpacking would have been much better without the constantly forward movement, or at least a key to make you come to a complete stop. There are alternatives, but they don't work. What it means is any gameplay usually has you overrunning your target so you have to fly past enough, slowly turn around to continue the attack from the other direction. When you come across the Archon's, giant beatle-like mechanical beasts, you have to fly back and forth over top of it a dozen times before finally getting to an awful quick-time event that'll kill you if you get it wrong and have you start from scratch.

On the topic of starting over, fortunately Dark Void does have plenty of checkpoints. If you quit Dark Void, you can reload the game from checkpoints, rather than starting an entire level over. I had a few crashes, and with only 14 levels, I would have been fuming if I had to start the level over every time it crashed.

So overall, Dark Void feels like it should have, or could have, been so much better.

  • Too few weapons, pointless upgrades, only several average enemy types.
  • A poor attempt at jetpacking and merging flight with a shooter.
  • Finally graphics and environments that we've all seen before in other UE games.

Airtight Games haven't done an action game since. I guess it's too much effort.

Dark Void