I Can’t Escape: Darkness (PC) Review

Jae Lee

I can’t escape this boredom.

I’ve mentioned before in my review of Rogue Legacy that I tend to dislike roguelikes, as I prefer a more focused, directed experience.

When things are randomly generated, there are instances where everything that can go wrong and does, leading to jarring difficulty spikes and other possibly unforeseen consequences.

In the case of Rogue Legacy, the incredibly tight controls and creative upgrade system mitigated most of those issues, resulting in a fun, infinitely replayable experience.

“I Can’t Escape: Darkness” also shares in the fact that it uses a roguelike engine to build most of its dungeon layouts for replay value’s sake, but fails in actually making me wanting to delve deeper into its dungeons.

I’ve seen similar visuals in Duke Nukem 3D, released in 1996.

I’ve seen similar visuals in Duke Nukem 3D, released in 1996.

“Darkness” is primarily a first-person survival puzzle game with light combat elements.

When I first jumped into the dungeon, the overall gameplay style reminded of the excellent “Legend of Grimrock” series.

However, after a few hours it became apparent that Darkness was nothing like the Grimrock series at all.

The meticulous turn-based combat in Grimrock was nowhere to be found, as the enemies in Darkness moved at their own, pace indifferent to my actions. I was often left mindlessly mashing on the attack key over and over hoping that I would kill my foe before it killed me.

The variety of enemies were limited to say the least, and every moment I spent fending for my life was one of annoyance more than anything else.

However, the main focal point of Darkness was in its puzzles, so I hoped to look past the abysmal combat to be challenged by some truly cerebral puzzles.

While there were a handful of somewhat interesting puzzles here and there, many were simple scavenger hunts, looking for one key or another. Given the nature of the dungeon with its constant pitfalls, it was incredibly frustrating to look for these hidden keys, and even when I found them, the rewards felt disappointing.

The only moments when I felt that this game might have something going for it was when I accidently stumbled on one of its many secrets, but those moments were few and far between in an endless cycle of death and frustration.

The flashlight runs out battery rather quickly and when it does, it’s basically game over.

The flashlight runs out battery rather quickly and when it does, it’s basically game over.

In a little over five hours played, I’ve accumulated thousands of steps taken along with dozens of deaths but I never managed to escape the dungeon.

Given I’m someone who prides himself in being above average at video games, I would take that as a challenge and explore the dungeon with as many lives it might take to get the job done, but I simply have no desire to do so.

From its abysmal combat to its shoddy randomly generated dungeon, I really could not stop playing “I Can’t Escape: Darkness” fast enough. I’m sure there are some masochists out there that enjoy this sort of game, but I’m certainly not one of them.

Fun Tidbit: You can turn on maps/saves to make the game somewhat more bearable but saving and reloading every few steps doesn’t make the experience more enjoyable.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Tons of secrets to uncover

Bad

  • Abysmal combat
  • Incredibly frustrating
4

Sub-Par

Jae Lee
Jae has been a gamer ever since he got a Nintendo when he was just a child. He has a passion for games and enjoys writing. While he worries about the direction gaming as a medium might be headed, he's too busy playing games to do anything about it.
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