The Darkside Detective – Review
Follow Genre: Point 'n click adventure
Developer: Spooky Doorway
Publisher: Spooky Doorway
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
Tested on: PC

The Darkside Detective – Review

Site Score
9.4
Good: Great stories, funny, cool references
Bad: I wish there were more chapters!
User Score
10.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

The Darkside Detective is a great retro-style point and click adventure developed and published by Spooky Doorway. This game has a great story divided over several chapters, each of which are quickly completed. The game has a great soundtrack, nice pixel-art, a nice atmosphere, awesome characters and numerous funny pop-culture references. 

The Darkside Detective - logo

Story

You are Detective McQueen, investigating the paranormal in a little town called Twin Lakes. Mc Queen’s paranormal police department is, of course, underfunded and ridiculed by the Twin Lakes police force. You’ll have different cases you’ll work on, each has their own story. An example is ‘Malice in Wonderland’, in which you have to find the missing daughter of a rich family, who seems to have disappeared without leaving the house. Another is Don of the Dead, where you have to impersonate a zombie to let the undead horde help you fight ghostly mobsters. While working on your cases, you’ll have a partner walking along with you, who’s good for an endless stream of puns… or causing some extra problems for you to solve. Most cases you’ll work on involve ‘the Darkside’, a parallel dimension with ghostly characters, who aren’t necessarily evil but just different versions of people living in the real world of the game.

One case takes about twenty to forty minutes to solve, and solving one case unlocks a new case with a new storyline you can start. The cases are all standalone stories, with a lot of humor. While the cases are separate story-arcs, the stories are still interconnected: there are some recurring characters and references to earlier cases. Dividing the story into chapters is a handy method to keep the puzzles simple and the amount of items you’ll collect limited. The fact that you’ll be able to solve the cases pretty quickly is a good way to play through one case casually whenever you have time, and still get a finished storyline and sense of accomplishment. There are 6 different cases, all of which are great, but since the total playtime is about 4 hours, it would be nice if there were more. It would really be great if this game would get a DLC with twice the amount of cases!

The Darkside Detective - screen 3

There are a lot of obvious references in this game, of course to The X Files and Twin Peaks, but to many other pop culture movies, TV series, books and art. The characters in this game are absolutely fantastic. The protagonist has a lot of funny remarks, but your partner, officer Dooley, is not only funny but also clearly has an interesting side to his personality, with some anarchist viewpoints, conspiracy theories and general avoidance of supernatural creepy stuff, despite his job.

Graphics

This title uses the typical 8-bit retro pixel style you see so often in these type of indie games nowadays. This is perfectly fine to complete the whole retro vibe of the game, but seeing as how this game doesn’t have a ‘highlight interact-able objects’ button, the simple graphics sometimes can make you miss some objects when roaming around a scene the first time, and thus having you looking around until you find it. However, if you pay some attention, this doesn’t happen very often since each scene doesn’t have that much objects to mouse over, so it’s pretty hard to miss stuff.

The Darkside Detective - screen 1

The pixel art is colorful, and looks great. It feels retro but upholds modern standards. The overall atmosphere of the game is conveyed really well by the graphics, and the retro look really fits the style of storytelling, the references, and the genre of the game. A true modern-day tribute to the old point ‘n click adventures!

Sounds

Music wise this game is fantastic; it fits with the style and the theme of the game and sets the tone and atmosphere for each scene. The music changes often during the scenes; sometimes the music feels like it’s almost not there at all, and sometimes it really builds tension and spookyness. The dialogue is not narrated, but that’s perfectly fine for a retro-style game.

The Darkside Detective - screen 2

Gameplay

The Darkside Detective is a typical point & click puzzle adventure. It’s a homage to the old point ‘n click adventures, with lots of humor and hilarious jokes, puzzles and characters. It’s really rewarding to talk to everyone in each scene, read all the titles of the books in the library, or listen to some toilet’s jokes (yup.. toilet humor!), to get the most out of this game and laugh your ass off.

The puzzles are good, not too easy and not too far-fetched either. Sometimes you’ll be able to figure puzzles out a bit too quickly than the game intended, because you skipped a step in the process which needs you to go back and get another clue before you proceed. Luckily, the hints you get when inspecting items are usually pretty obvious, so most of the time you’ll exactly know what you need to do next, even if you already know where the puzzle is going to lead you.

The Darkside Detective - screen 4

All of the cases are bite-sized stories with not too many characters and scenes, but enough to make the puzzles challenging to solve. There usually is a mini-game in each case you’ll need to solve, like Pipe Dream or a sliding puzzle. Those feel a bit random, but still a cool nod towards classic games.

Conclusion

The Darkside Detective is a brilliant tribute to the retro point & click adventures. The graphics style looks great, the soundtrack is amazing, the jokes are awesome, the references are cool and funny, and it has lovable characters and great stories in the different cases. The only bad side of this game is that it is rather short; more cases to play through would be great!

The Darkside Detective - screen 5

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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The Darkside Detective - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Anmaja
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

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