April 19, 2021 — 2017’s Darkside Detective was a return to the fondly remembered point-and-click genre and fully deserves this sequel. Inspired by LucasArts’ and Sierra’s legacy, Darkside Detective was praised for its humor, engaging puzzles, and striking pixel art.
What is Darkside Detective?
Spooky Doorway builds on its solid foundation with Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark. The new game once again puts the player in the shoes of Detective Francis McQueen, as he investigates six supernatural-themed cases alongside his partner, Patrick Dooley. The first case follows the events from the final moments of the previous game, with McQueen attempting to track down Dooley following his disappearance to the Darkside.
Humor within dialogue contributes a great deal towards the overall appeal.
The source of the supernatural crimes present in both games, the titular Darkside, is a parallel reality connected to Twin Lakes, the city mostly serving as the setting throughout the series. New players are catered for too, with Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark beginning with a small recap summarising the final events of the previous entry. While this does allow newcomers to jump into the sequel without being familiar with the original title, the recap could do more to explain the many characters who return from the original.
Pointing and Clicking
Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark follows the classic point-and-click formula, the player utilizing items found nearby while solving problems for various characters in order to progress through each case. As is often common with this type of game, puzzle solutions are sometimes obtuse and it can be difficult to connect the dots. For the most part, however, puzzles are creative yet logical, often featuring a humorous element that keeps the experience from becoming stale. The return of unique minigames and different case locations adds variety, as does the inclusion of various dialogue options for key characters. Humor within dialogue contributes a great deal towards the overall appeal and makes the need to click every item a joy. Meta jokes and pop culture references are also heavily present, from McQueen’s self-aware comment that the game couldn’t afford running animations, to talks of a certain marshmallow man. All of this contributes to gameplay that is extremely rewarding, the variation in puzzles and locations coupling with excellent dialogue, resulting in an enjoyable experience throughout.
A Fumble in the Dark, like its predecessor, features pixel art that suits its genre, a letter of retro love to the old point-and-click games that inspired it. The game’s accessible nature is engaging while also helping it to convey a lack of seriousness, aiding the self-aware dialogue and comedic effectiveness. The minigames and menus are also visually appealing, which further cements the overall appeal. The music is also excellent with a comedically spooky soundtrack changing with each case location. The sound design is somewhat lacking though, more contextual sounds when interacting with objects would have been helpful.
OUT OF 10
- Fantastic art style
- Mostly intuitive and varied puzzles
- Excellent dialogue and humor
- Well paced
- Sound design could be better
- A few puzzle solutions are slightly illogical
- Recap could be more detailed
What it Means
Overall, Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark confidently utilizes the same features that were loved from the first game. It is a formula that works extremely well, the intuitive puzzles and visually appealing graphical design mixing with the comedy and well-written dialogue forms a charming and engaging game. While some of the sound design could be improved and the occasional puzzle solution can be slightly implausible, this does not detract from what is a highly enjoyable experience. The end of the game also hints at a continuation of the series, and with such a well-realized sequel, there will be many looking forward to where Darkside Detective goes next.
Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark is available now on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and Steam.