From developer Spooky Doorway and publisher Isometric Dreams comes The Darkside Detective, the point-and-click adventure puzzle game that sees you become the titular detective, Francis McQueen, as he attempts to solve the cases behind the newly awakened evil in Twin Lakes City.
Mysterious portals are appearing in Twin Lakes, teleporting townspeople to a different world called the Darkside. As Detective Francis McQueen, and along with your trusty partner Officer Dooley, you must solve six unique cases to try and put an end to this strange evil taking over your city!
The story, while unique, is riddled with references and jokes that are designed to take players back to an earlier time in their lives. However, when looking past this façade of nostalgia, the story itself is seriously lacking in depth and development. This is most notable when considering the depth to which you ever explore the world and character you’re controlling. Each level feels very small, which is good for puzzle solving, but bad in the depth and development categories. You never exist in any one environment long enough to feel connected to it (at least unless you get the dated jokes used to push forward an overly comedic narrative). It was incredibly difficult for me to ‘get’ the humor present in this story, which left me quite unsatisfied.
The Darkside Detective uses a classic point-and-click style gameplay mechanic to cover most of your detective duties. If you need to move to a different room, click the door, if you need to check out an object in a room, you click on it to examine. This style of gameplay is something I have trouble enjoying on console, because it feels like you have to drag your cursor over the entirety of the screen in order to get it anywhere, making it feel like it’s taking forever to highlight something. There is also something less precise about an analog stick compared to a mouse when maneuvering this game. I would miss objects by a tiny fraction and then have to move the cursor completely out of the way in order to try again. It wasn’t a common occurrence, but was something that I found frustrating when playing.
Additionally, the game makes good use of the inventory stash. You’re able to easily access items from within it, combine them together to create new objects, and ultimately use them in your environments very quickly. Since no stage or case contains too many locations, there aren’t an overwhelming amount of items and things to collect, which makes each level very accessible. Ultimately I was underwhelmed with the gameplay experience, even though there were some things I liked. The incredibly short run time of only six cases offers no reason to replay the game, and the coupe of elements that I found frustrating really took away from my overall experience.
In a gaming world continually striving for realistic graphics, the colorful and pixelated approach continues to look spectacular, especially on a system with the flexibility of play style like the Nintendo Switch. What is even better about The Darkside Detective is the sound design, which is a more relatable homage to 80’s synthesizers and electronic music. These two elements are things you can tell the development team took great care in designing and it shows with the end product being what it is.
With a unique premise, simple and accessible gameplay, and great sound and visual design, The Darkside Detective had a lot of promise when I first booted it up. Upon playing the game, however, I found that some of the gameplay mechanic frustrations, the incredibly short run time, and the depthless story ultimately make this game one I wouldn’t recommend. If you’re someone who’s a little older than I am you might enjoy and better understand the references enough to want to buy this, but for me there were just too many things that I didn’t enjoy, making this game a Nintendon’t.
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Isometric Dreams
Developer – Spooky Doorway
Price – $12.99
Genre – Adventure, Puzzle, Other
Size – 863 MB