Darkseed – PC
Release Date (NA): January 1st, 1992
I missed the Halloween reviews because I am a very lame person. But hey, because of that, how about we review the predecessor to the game I reviewed last year? The original, scary, Darkseed! Developed by the prolific and short-lived studio, Cyberdreams, this game brought a new level of fear to those few that actually managed to play the game. Brought to us by the developer of Darkseed 2, and I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, this game used the chilling art of H.R. Giger to deliver a revolutionary point and click experience.
Much like the first game, you play as the mullet-clad, Mike Dawson. He’s a writer who, one night has an alien fetus inserted into his brain. He comically but creepily proclaims the next morning he has a “monster headache” (pun may or may not be intended). And after that, you’re off! The game functions much like the second game, except with obviously more age behind it.
The game for being a DOS game though, looks great and pretty damn scary at multiple points. The sound, in comparison to other games at the time, isn’t bad either. The only problem stems in Dawson’s voice which is a bit off but not terrible.
As for everything outside of the aesthetics, it plays just how you expect a horror DOS game to play. It’s IMPOSSIBLE. The difficulty of the game gives a sense of charm to it, as it mirrors and surpasses its sequel in its level of challenge. The point and click aspect of the game makes it frustrating at points, as objects you would automatically assume as useless have a lasting effect on the game.
The mechanics to the game though, are really unique and force you to WANT to come back every time you fail. The look and feel isn’t the only unique aspect of this game, as Darkseed uses this mechanic where you switch through an alien-infested dark world that mirrors our own, and being in the regular world. Actions you do in the real world can have a lasting effect on what happens in the mirrored world, making puzzles even harder, but more rewarding.
Each and every time the player accomplishes something, they will feel rewarded. They will feel smart, and that assuredly is a good thing indeed. If not just for that one mechanic, then we also have the mechanic the game gives of time. Time is an added element of frustration, but ultimately makes the game feel more challenging and rewarding in the end. As time progresses, if you don’t beat the game, the alien fetus in your head will grow and kill you. Yep. Grow and kill you. Gruesome, but that’s honestly what I love so much about it.
This game instills such a fear on you that games these days lack, that it’s a bit disheartening. Most “horror” games nowadays tend to rely heavily on jump scares and overreacting YouTube prophets to sell you the fear rather than having actual horror instilled in their game. Games like Darkseed will make you afraid of the dark for a few hours after playing. You won’t look at the regular world the same way again for a bit. You will have REAL fear running through your veins.
The characters outside of Mike Dawson are a bit few and far between and don’t make as much of a lasting impact as minor characters in the second game did, but this isn’t too big of an issue. Being by myself actually made me more afraid. The game has definitely less characters than the sequel did, and this honestly adds to the experience more than it does take away. Gameplay around the experience isn’t all that much different, but it IS different than other games of the time.
While bearing SOME similarities to other point and click adventure games, the unique art style, the challenge, the solitude, and the mechanics all make it a completely different experience. As one that hasn’t been overexposed by the let’s play market, I feel as though this game with how well it was made is a bit of a hidden gem. It might actually be the DEFINITION of a hidden gem that should be a hit with anyone craving bloodcurdling screams, challenge, and a lot of reward.
I spent over 25 hours on this game trying to beat it. NO JOKE. I was so driven to beating it without a walkthrough that I really tried my hardest. And let me tell you, the best part about this game aren’t its great mechanics, great visuals, and well polished gameplay. The best part about this game actually lies in the feeling you get after beating it. Anyone who has ever beat a notorious hard game will know what I’m talking about, and Darkseed amplifies that feeling by 20,000.
With only some minor issues here and there, only stemming from perhaps flat characters, the game reigns supreme as the best horror DOS experience you can get. I recommend it with flying colors with a near flawless 9.5/10. Noting that casual players better stay away if you don’t like intense difficulty.
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