Through The Darkest of Times – Review
Follow Genre: Strategy, visual novel
Developer: Paintbucket Games
Publisher: HandyGames
Platforms: Mac, PC
Tested on: PC

Through The Darkest of Times – Review

Site Score
Good: This game succeeds in educating and letting a tense history feel alive
Bad: Choices don't feel like they matter much
User Score
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Games about war are not that uncommon. As a matter of fact, we used to be flooded with nazi-shooters such as Wolfenstein and any other war-inspired aggressive games. It’s only for a few years that indie games such as This War of Mine use war to tell a proper story or to explore the more human aspects of such gruesome events. Through The Darkest of Times is one of those games that aims to deliver a story about the era before the Second World War, the interbellum.


Through The Darkest of Times starts in 1933, where Hitler just got chosen as chancellor of Germany. While many among the Germans seemingly accept this decision, this game is a story about those who decided right away that this was a very bad, grim sign for the future of Germany and perhaps the world. A small resistance was formed, and they decided they had to do something to make sure there was a counter-weight to all of this. So you start with a few core members who each have their own skills, and try to make the right choices as the game’s story and years pass you by, accurately living through the fear and glory of building up a Nazi empire. The game is delivered partially as a graphic novel and part strategic planning where you can make choices and hope for the best, sometimes getting a cutscene.


When first seeing the trailer this is one of those games that judging by the graphics alone doesn’t seem all too good. It uses simple drawings and stiff animations to communicate with the player. Yet, because of the story, the written text, and the way it uses every element at its arsenal to deliver this story, the graphics fall in place without too much hassle and you will quickly not be bothered by them anymore. If anything, because it’s all rather abstract, it somehow speaks to your imagination better in combination with textual happenings.


Any bit of sound in this game is clearly thought well-through, as nothing is too much or too little. During cutscenes there is a voice-over which is not present at other times, while in the hideout to plan there is just an old jazzy record in the background and some environmental sounds, and during the visual novels, it’s generally eerily quiet with some sounds enforcing what you are reading. It’s a neat addition to the experience that Through The Darkest of Times tends to deliver.


The gameplay of Through The Darkest of Times can be seen as part strategy and part visual novel. The strategy part comes where you can use a map to make day-to-day choices depending on what you decide your resistance group needs, which is a bit similar to games such as This is the Police. The visual part novel and the choices you get to make give more of a Papers, Please vibe. For the real experience, you can pick Resistance Mode at the beginning of the game. For those who prefer to be less stressed, there is a less authentic mode that’s focussing itself on going through the story: Story mode.

This is a game that manages to successfully recreate what it must have been like for people to go through something horrifying as the era before World War II. As a resistance group, you have to try to balance personal issues of members as well as money, morale, and supporters who think your cause is just. Each day you get to juggle these resources around where you try to i.e. get paint or paper for anti-propaganda, decide what to do when you encounter a police force which could ruin your plans, and more. Things that have an effect on the outcome are the skills of your members and on what mission you put them, their religions, how notorious they are at the moment of the mission, and more.

Despite the fact that Through The Darkest of Times really feels successful in creating a tense atmosphere by giving you such choices, and by surprising you with bits of stories that seem to be ripped from interviews with survivors themselves, there’s a major flaw the game seems to have. Especially in most visual novel choices (the surprising bits of stories), the choice you make doesn’t really seem to matter as more than often the game pushes you towards something it wants to tell you. This somewhat negatively impacts the uncertain feeling of making the wrong choices, and we aren’t sure if you can actually ”lose” the game, but besides that, it’s a nice experience that’s something special for all who want to have a more authentic, honest war-related game experience.


Through The Darkest of Times manages to mix some visual novel elements with strategy and tense choices. Despite these choices not always being of great importance or impact, the game at the very least turns out to create a good and authentic historic experience with a proper story and interesting aspects. It would be good for a wide array of gamers, and even for students who want to know more about the interbellum time period.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Through The Darkest of Times - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

I'm a game designer, developer, and reviewer. I've been reviewing for since 2017.

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