Dark is a Poor Man's Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines
Fangs for nothing
Dark is a vampiric stealth action RPG in which you play newborn bloodsucker Eric Bane in Gothtown, USA. On paper, it's my perfect game: a latter-day Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines. In practice, it's a bloody mess. In the Dark gameplay video below the cut, Mike, Andy and I slouch around a nightclub and punch hundreds of security guards in a furtive museum raid.
Dark has plenty of the same ingredients as Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, Troika's fatally flawed gem. There is a vampire nightclub hideout with a sexy lady overseer, for starters, and a sneaky after-hours museum mission, while vampire powers such as celerity (for supernatural speed) and auspex (for supernatural senses) are cribbed from the same World of Darkness role-playing rulebook as used by Bloodlines.
Those similarities throw Dark's problems into sharp relief. Chief among these are the imprecise controls and awkward AI, which make stealth an exercise in fang-grinding frustration. Its vampire detective vision is a seizure-inducing purple and red light show, like so:
Bloodlines had its mechanical problems, but its fascinating vampire clans and atmospheric rendering of Los Angeles were fine compensation - not so with Dark. Eric Bane is a hoarse, unremarkable rent-a-protagonist. He looks like an anaemic David Blaine.
Outside of garish purple vampire vision, Dark at least manages flashes of style; the sleek, comic-like outlines on character designs and the neon gothery of the Sanctuary nightclub, for instance. Alas, it's too little to salvage this game. Those of us waiting on that spiritual sequel to Bloodlines, hang tight. This isn't it.