thu 26/11/2020

Darkout | reviews, news & interviews

Darkout

Darkout

Can the latest "sandbox" game build on its predecessors, Minecraft and Terraria?

'Darkout': Dig for victory? More like dig for boredom.

As ever with videogames, one great success can lead to many failures. The success in this case was the breakout "sandbox" genius of Minecraft. On its surface, Minecraft is essentially a faithfully blocky attempt to bring Lego bricks into games. But unlocking both the power of collaborative working and the sheer size and scale of Minecraft's possibilities has allowed people to build all sorts of insanely grandiose designs within their virtual worlds.

As ever with videogames, one great success can lead to many failures. The success in this case was the breakout "sandbox" genius of Minecraft. On its surface, Minecraft is essentially a faithfully blocky attempt to bring Lego bricks into games. But unlocking both the power of collaborative working and the sheer size and scale of Minecraft's possibilities has allowed people to build all sorts of insanely grandiose designs within their virtual worlds. Of course, where Minecraft led, others followed – more's the pity...

Minecraft begat Terraria – an amiable sci-fi side-scrolling half platform game, half "sandbox" builder. And Terraria begat Darkout. This is an attempt to prettify the "sandbox" genre by adding pretty visuals to what was, until now, typified by retro-looking blockiness. And on the visual front, it's a roaring success – Darkout may retain the retro side-scrolling 2D feel of Terraria, but the visuals are sumptuous.

Darkout - Terraria and Minecraft style sandbox sci-fi gamingShame then, that the gameplay feels so neglected. In Darkout, your space explorer has crash-landed on a strange planet and your ship is ruined. So, you've got to salvage what you can from your craft and find ways to survive on a planet where loads of creepy crawlies come out at night, and it's night nearly all the time.

In keeping with the genre, you start off with just a pickaxe, shovel and axe, useful for mining rocks, digging dirt tunnels and chopping trees. These jobs are repetitive and dull – you'll chop and dig until your fingers are numb, in order to grind out the materials to first make a safe base, then enough lighting to ward off the nasties, then to upgrade your base, mode of transport and those basic tools to cut down on the incessant clicking.

All of which might lead to some sort of payoff if the backstory of Darkout was well fleshed out enough that you cared enough to delve the deepest caverns or explore the surface enough to find out why the world is the way it is, or to try and get off it. Except there's nothing here to make you care enough to keep clicking, chopping, digging.

Darkout - Terraria and Minecraft style sandbox sci-fi gamingAn alternative reason to keep playing might have come if the game either allowed you to construct amazing stuff (like Minecraft) or got you to the good stuff quickly enough – but it doesn't let you do either. Sure, there are some flashy user-made bases and hover vehicles out there, but you'll lose interest well before then unless you simply love digging dirt.

This is, as is also fashionable now, only the first part of Darkout. Another three stages are promised, which include some potential stuff that might fix the gripes above. But really, for £10, I'd expect a lot more to draw me into a game than what is here. Perhaps more intrepid explorers might yet find interesting secrets in Darkout. For most, stick to the original, or far better still, Minecraft. This is just a photocopy of a photocopy.

Survive on a planet where loads of creepy crawlies come out at night, and it's night nearly all the time

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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