A Minecrafty Alternative –
In the last couple of years the rise of the free roaming, open ended, create-and-build genre has spread drastically from its roots in Minecraft. Most off shoots have taken the route of staying pretty firmly in the pixel art aesthetic which make it so much more interesting when Darkout breaks away from that trend. As if almost sensing that the genre itself might be in danger of over saturation without new ideas, there seems to be no fear for the game to take a new approach to some of the more stale aspects—for a result that ends up being mixed at the very best.
The main difference in the game is that it is constantly dark, meaning that there is no day/night cycle in the traditional sense. There are times that enemies seem to attack more, but considering that the game has a nasty habit of turning rather savage with the difficulty with no notice that isn’t really saying much. The game is oppressive and doesn’t really think twice and destroying every moment of progress the player has made since they started playing, and that might be one of the best highlights of the game.
Another really strong point is the fact that items need to be researched before they can be crafted, which breaks the cardinal rule for the genre that the moment the items are gather the object can be crafted. Instead there is an entire tech tree type path that must be walked down to unlock anything higher than the most basic survival tools. There were small problems with the interface and the way that further progression worked inside of the research paths, namely finding a missed material can suddenly reveal an entire series of designs, but it wasn’t really anything that could be ironed out with some minor patching.
The only real problem that crops up is that it doesn’t do enough of the new things well enough to be noticed as much it probably should be. There are some really great ideas buried inside of an odd little game that I haven’t seen in this combination before, and that in and of itself is worth note. Everything sort of ends up feeling like the art, a little mudded and hard to make out one way or another.
There are worst things in the world than playing Darkout. The problem is that in a world of Starbound and Terraria to sink hundreds of hours into it doesn’t always feel like there is room for a forgettable, smaller title like this. It isn’t even that Darkout does anything so offensive wrong that you should avoid it, it just does nothing so well that you should go out of your way to purchase it.