The Darkness was an odd choice for a video game adaptation. A quasi-spinoff of the boobs-in-organic-armor comic book Witchblade, The Darkness follows the adventures of a sociopathic mob hitman who develops ancient, unholy powers on his 21st birthday. Starbreeze Studios stood up to the plate on the video game adaptation and 2K Games delivered a fascinating â€“ if not uneven â€“ first-person shooter experience as a result. It sold briskly enough that a sequel was in order, which fell to Digital Extremes for development. After a somewhat lengthy period of gestation, weâ€™ll finally be returning to the fine shoes and Armani suit of Jackie Estacado in The Darkness II this October.
The Darkness II apparently picks up Jackieâ€™s story a few years after the first game. After the carnage left in the wake of The Darknessâ€™s finale, Jackie Estacado has both risen to become Don of Franchetti crime family and suppressed The Darkness roiling within him. As The Darkness II opens, an assassination attempt sparks off a full-scale gang war. In the heat of battle, The Darkness reawakens and compels its host to once again walk the path of chaos and revenge. Jackie comes to learn that all of this has been orchestrated by the mysterious Crippled Man, a hooded stranger who seeks to claim the powers of The Darkness for his own.
2K Games and Digital Extremes have dropped a fine little trailer for The Darkness 2 in honor of E3. Showcasing an intriguing mix of in-game action and story, this peek at Jackieâ€™s increasingly desperate fight (both against the forces of the Crippled Man and for control of his own body) confirms that all the dual-wielding gunplay and gory monster action of the first game is back for the party. The trailer also showcases a new mechanic in which The Darknessâ€™s tendrils can pick up items and fight independently of Jackieâ€”something the gameâ€™s design team calls â€œquad wielding.â€
Though The Darkness suffered from uneven pacing and a certain blandness in its general gameplay approach, it also displayed a brash sense of the theatrical. As nonsensical as its opening sequence was, it also was one of the most viscerally exciting Iâ€™d ever played in an FPS. Heckâ€”The Darkness was, despite primarily being a run-and-gun Â extravaganza, a game in which you could sit down with Jackieâ€™s girlfriend and watch the entirety of To Kill a Mockingbird (seriously). For all its faults, I have to tip my hat to Starbreeze for that alone.
Now that the franchise is in the hands of a new developer, will it continue to show off these kinds of high-concept moments? The trailer certainly seems to indicate a continuation of the first gameâ€™s cinematic approach. The implied crucifixion of the player alone is enough to perk my interests. The quad-wielding mechanic sounds more fun than a barrel of burning monkeys. Now, we just have to wait and see whether they can tie the gameplay together so that it all feels like it belongs in the same game.
Though we wonâ€™t see the full extent of Jackie Estacadoâ€™s rampage of revenge until October, we have a preview of the game and plenty of media to tide us over until then. Take these screenshots, for instance:
Did The Darkness blow you away? Does the trailer for its sequel leave you giddy for October? Share your impressions in the comments!
The Darkness II comes to PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 October 4, 2011.