The Darkness II Review

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Feel the power of the dark side


Two years on from the events of the first game, The Darkness’ host Jackie Estacado has repressed his terrifying powers and runs one of the most powerful crime families in New York the old fashioned way – with guns and violence. A botched restaurant hit and fleeting visions of his long-dead love Jenny Romano forces Jackie to let the unholy force out once more, dragging him reluctantly into the night.

While this sequel packs enough gritty gunplay to make Tony Soprano squeamish, new developer Digital Extremes also takes the opportunity to thoroughly explore the comic book roots of the character, most notable with the introduction of The Angelus. The opposite number to The Darkness, the beatific force serves as the chief antagonist – an interesting consideration of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ when your protagonist is a murderer. The heavily ‘inked’ aesthetic of the game harkens back to its print roots and creates a suitably threatening world, though is sadly marred by frequent graphical glitches or embarrassingly poor textures.

Players comfortable with straight-up shooters may feel less at home using Jackie’s superpowers – chiefly tendrils that can grab objects from afar or tear enemies to bloody pieces, and snarky gremlins called Darklings to do your bidding – but once acclimatised you’ll be leaving a trail of carnage in your wake. Feasting on enemies’ hearts restores health, while kills are rewarded with dark essence, spent on demonic power upgrades. A significant boost from the first game is quad-wielding, gifting Jackie two guns and tendrils at once. Others, such as black holes and plagues of insects are appropriately disturbing but, while impressive, you’ll always fall back on the same simple ‘shoot-n-slash’ mechanics in a pinch.

Satisfyingly depraved in places and bragging an inventive multiplayer tying into the core storyline, The Darkness II improves on an already solid first game to deliver one of the strongest horror games in years.