The only other jetpack shooter I can remember playing is 2002’s Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. I liked it, but at the time I remember thinking “One day, someone will get this right and it will be awesome.” With that in mind, I popped in my copy of Dark Void and crossed my fingers.
You play the game as Will Grey, a wise-cracking cargo pilot in 1938 during the pre-World War II era. Will’s plane crashes in the Bermuda Triangle and somehow he gets transported to an alien parallel universe called “The Void”. There you meet Nikola Tesla who introduces you to a badass jetpack, helping you kill aliens while trying to find your way back home. There’s a lot to like about Dark Void. For starters, the core ground & hover-based combat is really fun. Like Gears of War, you’ll spend a lot of time hiding in cover, popping up briefly to shoot enemies. But since you’ve got a jet pack, you can fly up to the high ground and take them out from a better vantage point. Being able to look for cover horizontally and vertically provides a fresh take on your standard cover-based third-person shooter. The story itself is traditional sci-fi stuff, only with a 1930’s backdrop, and it lasts around 8 hours. I grew attached to the characters over the course of the game which is a success since I usually couldn’t care less.
Play Dark Void for 10 minutes and you’ll notice the epic soundtrack. While the rest of the game’s quality fluctuates throughout, the music is consistently strong. You always get the feeling that something important is happening. Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica) did the score and he earned his pay. The voice of the everyman, Nolan North, voices Will Grey and he does his usual great job. He really should to take a day off once in awhile though and let someone else get a paycheck. Here he’s doing the same Nathan Drake-style character as he did in Uncharted, but it works fine here so there’s nothing to complain about.
As good as the ground and hover based combat is, the air combat is equally terrible. You’d assume that “the guys behind Crimson Skies” would know how to do flight combat, but apparently they’ve forgotten. Transitioning between hover mode and full flight is awkward and disorienting. Even after finishing the game, I still don’t feel “good” at it. The levels based soley on flight combat felt like chores and I couldn’t wait for them to be over. Fortunately, the majority of the levels (about 80%) feature traditional third-person combat.
Graphically, the game lacks an overall polish that keeps it from feeling like a top-tier game. Some of the areas look like they’re from the copy & paste school of game design (“A tree over here, and now a tree over there!”). The visuals lie somewhere between average and not good. Let me put it this way, you won’t be using Dark Void to show off your new TV to your friends.
I liked Dark Void, but I’ll admit that it’s an aquired taste. Once you get used to the flight mechanics, things pick up (sorry for the pun). Whether you’ll stick with it long enough to reach that point depends on you. While the concept behind Dark Void is great, the execution is lacking in places. I firmly believe one day a game with a guy and a jetpack will be released and it will be great. Maybe it will be called Dark Void 2. There’s certainly room for improvement and I’d love to see a sequel where it’s issues get addressed.
If you played the lousy demo (which was too short and only served to showcase the game’s flaws) then I suggest you reconsider skipping over this one. There’s some fun to be had despite a few niggling flaws. If you’re in the mood for a shooter with a twist then give Dark Void a try.
Many thanks to hugegamer.com and Dynamite_Jack for this amazing review.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Core ground & hover-based combat is really fun, Story is pretty decent
Visuals lack the polish, air combat is terrible
After three years in development and several near cancellations, Capcom's Dark Void is finally here. Developed by Airtight Games, the minds behind Crimson Skies, there are high expectations for this sci-fi shooter. Does Dark Void fly to the stars or should you avoid this Void?