Creating a surreal environment and withholding information regarding the story that relates to the events that take place throughout the video game is a development style that is hard to pull off, but enjoyed by platform and puzzle gamers alike. The latest studio to try their hands at this is Unfold Games with their latest title Darq, which released today on Steam. This game takes you through some strange atmospheres and puzzles that include changing your literal perspective.
The only information regarding a story that we are given is that this game has a lot to do with the dream world. There seems to be a strange connection between what we are given to appear as reality and the actual dream state that leaves plenty of room for speculation and theory.
First thing you are going to have to do is look around your small apartment area before interacting with the bed for the first time. This will send you to the first dream state level, but appear to give you nowhere to go. If you haven’t seen any trailers for the game, it would be thoroughly confusing, but this is where you first do a wall walk. This is where you go up to a wall, hit the action button, and the world will change to where what was once the wall is now the floor. This is the core of majority of the puzzles in the game.
You will be given the task of finding your way out of the dream state and back to your apartment. This will take you through strange and almost unclear tasks in order to solve a variety of puzzles. You will have to collect specific items to be used in different areas in the environment so that you can continue to proceed. These puzzles range from easy to difficult, but I personally didn’t find any of them hard to understand nor incredibly hard.
The puzzles themselves do serve from a variety of different styles. It includes my favorite map search style where you need to find items from different parts of the map in order to use somewhere else, a block slider, switch order pattern, and so many more. The most unique of the puzzle types were the ones where the rooms had to be flipped around in order to line up something specific, open a new pathway, or even change the players perspective to see a different part of the map.
Environment aspects are used when it comes to the view of the game as well. Be ready to think outside the box, look around each area of the maps, and realize what wall should be a floor and when the ceiling is the goal. There is a lot of strange, but uniquely cool aspects to both the puzzles, item hunting, and enemies.
As far as explaining the enemies, they are all unique in their own way. You will need to figure out how to interact with each one differently, as no two have the same style. Some need to be hid from, which an indicator will tell you where the hiding spots are (ranging from climbing on the ceiling to just hiding in the wall). Approach all with caution and learn the moves before acting is my advice for these creatures.
Graphics and Sounds
Leaving the game void of music for majority of the time is an interesting choice that this game style tends to go with. It leaves you to your thoughts and ideas while trying to simultaneously figure out what is going on while solving puzzles. The sound effects that you hear that give life to the environment, indicate your interactions, and characterize enemies is all that is need, as well as fitting.
Visually the game is a bit cartoon-like, but is once again fitting to the style they are going for. Giving an overall gray slate to the color scheme while keeping a dark cartoon art style really shows off the strange atmosphere the whole game takes place in.
There are a few hidden areas, one in each level, that you can go back to find if you didn’t come across them on your first play through. Other than finding these areas, all of the puzzles and events will be the same.
What Could Be Better
I would have enjoyed some harder puzzles but given this being the first game from the studio and the unique style of the game, it is understandable to have it focus on presenting a new experience overall. If they continue with this style of game development, I hope to see some real stumpers that make me have to really think for awhile before being able to solve it.
Enemies could have been more threatening or even made into part of a puzzle itself. It seemed like they were more of a progress hindrance than an aspect that tried to prevent me from continuing through any of the puzzles.
Felt like the chapters were all pretty short as well. While it took about as long to complete this game as it did for me to beat games in a similar style, it felt more like travel time and getting past hindering enemies was what slowed me down rather than having so many things to solve and challenges to overcome.
Darq is an amazing, unique puzzle game that prevents a new experience in a dark atmosphere! I highly suggest any fan of puzzle games to look into this one and found myself more than excited when I first got to dive into the strange world. Thoroughly enjoyed getting through the game and solving the puzzles, just wish there were more puzzles and areas to get through, which is a complaint that is more of a compliment than an issue.