Darkness, Commodore 64, Retrospective Review

Help Adventurer Stan battle the hordes of Darkness to rescue his girlfriend Megan in this fun flick screen arcade adventure

Fans of the current Commodore 64 gaming scene are blessed to have passionate game designers such as Trevor Storey to provide great re-interpretations of classic 8-bit games that provide great gaming enjoyment in the modern day environment.

Today we take a look back at one of Storey’s more successful collaboration projects with coder Achim Volkers, Darkness, originally distributed by RGCD and Psytronik Software back in 2014.

Darkness starts off with an introductory screen setting out the backstory to the game where a plane carrying adventurer Stan and his girlfriend Megan crash lands in the jungles of Africa. Fortunately, Stan survives the crash but upon regaining consciousness, he sees no sign of his Megan.  Frantically searching for her throughout the jungle, Stan hears Megan’s scream in the distance and he immediately understands that she is in  danger and that he must find his way through the deepest and darkest jungles of Africa to take on the Darkness that lies await if he is to save his beloved girlfriend.

Darkness is a flick screen arcade adventure that adopts a top down view of the game world and  features 100 graphically rich and vibrant screens. As Stan sets off to explore the jungle he will instantly come across hordes of nasty predators that must be avoided or eliminated if he is to keep his limited number of health points in tact.

Upon my initial play, Darkness proved to be a challenging experience. There are no checkpoints or save states to help you out, so it becomes critical to understand how to take best advantage of the enemy spawning process. As you maneuver Stan through each screen, you notice that it takes a couple of seconds for enemies to spawn, providing you with ample opportunity to either quickly run across the screen or to set yourself up for the best mode of attack. Further, the placement of enemies is somewhat randomized, so if you don’t like how enemies are positioned, you can flick between the screens to get a more favourable enemy placement.

Using the game mechanics to my advantage, I found that I was then able to make very good progress and was starting to enjoy the game very much. In progressing through the game, I found that clearing undergrowth or smashing pots would reveal power-ups where by:

  • Purple hearts upgrade Stan’s weapon
  • Cyan hearts will help Stan move at a quicker speed; while
  • White hearts provide temporary invincibility.

The jungle is littered with treasure chests and upon opening these you will be rewarded with special items such as keys, extra hearts and, most importantly, green and purple masks. Once you have collected all the green and purple masks (there are 4 of each to find) and placed them in the appropriate location, you will be granted access to do battle with the Lord of Darkness himself and saving Megan the love of your life.

Darkness provides a graphical feast with its vibrant and detailed environment. There are several areas within the game that are quite distinguishable, providing a good level of variation that assists with your navigation through the jungle environment .  The Stan character sprite is very well drawn and moves smoothly through the jungle setting and the vast number of enemy sprites are equally well defined.

The in game music, provided by Linus, is quite charming and feels like it has been inspired by classic Nintendo arcade adventure games but with the added benefit of having it being composed for the C64 SID chip.

Those of you who enjoy exploration type games, will love Darkness. The game map is not too confusing and there is plenty to see throughout the game to ensure that you are interested until the very end.

Darkness does not bring anything new to C64 gaming platform, but it does provide an enjoyable gaming experience presented in high quality graphics and sound. For those who missed the game upon its initial release, I would easily recommend that you seek the game out and give it a try. In the meantime, check out the video review in the link located at the start of this article

Darkness is available as a digital download from Psytronik’s Itch.Io page on a ‘name your own price’ basis and in a physical form from the Binary Zone Retro store.

Retro gaming journalist promoting NEW C64 and Amiga releases. Contributes to RetroGamerNation YouTube channel, Vintage is the New Old blog site, Reset 64 Magazine, K&A Plus Magazine and various other publications. Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/retrogamernation Website: http://retrogamernation.com Email: retrogamernation@gmail.com

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