Ah, the 21st birthday. When many people take the last step into full legality. However, for Jackie Estacado, the big two-one isn't a time to spend reveling in booze. It's a time to spend reveling in darkness.
Estacado is a mafia hitman in New York City, and on his 21st birthday a demonic parasite called "the Darkness" manifests itself.
And it couldn't come at a better time.
A deal has gone bad, and Jackie's Uncle Paulie, the family Don, has put the blame on his shoulders and a price on his head.
Fortunately for Estacado, the Darkness is more than willing to lend a razor sharp demon arm, and Estacado sets out through the shadows to seek his revenge.
The titular Darkness is clearly the star of the show. There are guns, but only because all the crooked cops and mafia goons standing in Estacado's way have them. Gun combat is basic, the weapons aren't too varied (or accurate) and any situation that forced me to use guns rather than my demonic powers was frustrating, because the Darkness powers are way more fun to use.
Using a demon arm to impale enemies and fling them like rag dolls or taking control of a slithering snake-like tentacle to sneak through vents and around corners to bite unsuspecting enemies is a much more engaging way of clearing the streets than shooting.
Toss in some guns that use Darkness energy for ammo and the ability to summon a small black hole and a Tactical Assault Rifle looks quaint.
Players can also summon Darklings, little foul-mouthed demons, to aid them, but they're difficult to command and, like the guns, not really all that useful. I'd rather do the deed myself.
Now, these Darkness powers need powering. And where might one find sustenance for a shadowy demonic presence?
Why, in the darkness of course.
Which means players will spend plenty of time taking pot-shots at lights or using darkness powers to destroy them. At first it's annoying, but as Estacado's powers grow, they become a minor nuisance. Players can also eat the hearts of fallen foes to recharge, and power up, the demon within.
Graphically, "The Darkness" is as impressive as the powers it provides. Character animation and dialogue are well polished. I just wish I could say the same for the enemy A.I.
There are essentially two types of enemies in the game: thugs and bad cops. The only difference is the uniform. And whether in black or blue, they're all ridiculously stupid. None of them seem to have any inkling towards self-preservation, as they will stand idly by as their partners are devoured, and no one seems to notice or question the fact that Estacado is a walking nightmare.
The game could have used a few more enemy types, maybe a boss fight or two, and generally more chances to kill bad guys in gruesomely awesome ways.
The Darkness has some really spectacular powers, but there are few spectacular moments. Focusing more on the Darkness powers and coming up with creative ways to use them would have made this a great game. As it is, it's just good.
"The Darkness" is an enjoyable twist to the shooter genre, but it's in the shadows that "The Darkness" really shines.