March 23, 2015 6:00 AM | Joel Couture
I enjoy humor in games, but it's rare that I genuinely crack up. DoomCube's The Darkside Detective demo had me laughing consistently with its silly sense of humor, and all while I was having a great time pointing-and-clicking my way to the bottom of a paranormal mystery. The puzzles in the short preview didn't keep me stumped for very long, but that sharp writing has me wanting to spend a whole lot more time with Dt. Francis McQueen and the amazing Officer Dooley.
Always talk to Officer Dooley. I don't care what you're doing or what you hope to accomplish in any given scene, but go to talk to Dooley. He always has something ridiculous to say, making absurd statements about himself, the other characters, or breaking the fourth wall about the lack of bathrooms in the demo's location. The back and forth between McQueen and Dooley is fantastic stuff, and I don't think there was a single time he said something that didn't at least make me chuckle. The conversation between the two at the very start of the game sold it for me. Could have stopped right there and had my money.
For those of you who need a bit more than occult buddy cop comedy, there is some good pointing and clicking going on. The puzzles in the demo were straightforward, using that pesky 'logic' that many point-and-clickers seem to hate. No having to repair an air conditioner using four of five steps that require world travel just so you can win a game of darts, here. It makes the game seem a bit too easy, but this is only the initial chapter, and it also feels really good to actually intuitively know how to solve something. Knowing an item's use instantly feels good, as I've never been a fan of having to try everything on everything else just to guess at what the developer wants me to do. The items made sense together, and that's not always easy in this genre.
The Darkside Detective makes it easy to figure out what you should be fooling around with since there are few items on any given screen. If it's important, the item's name will show up over it. This doesn't always happen on the first go, as I had to reach a point in the plot where something became important before it's name appeared when I hovered the mouse over it. Given that there were only a few things spread around the house, I could actually find the item I needed from memory, which was a nice touch. Again, this may seem easy, but it's removing what is typically just padding through busywork. I didn't have to wander the whole game to find what I was looking for, making the game flow effortlessly.
I was really happy about this since I just wanted to learn more of the story, and messing with items slows that down. It was a pretty silly tale, mixing crime and the occult in a fun way during its short duration. A child has gone missing in a house of suspicious characters, and McQueen is brought out to find out why. He's a specialist in the supernatural, and receives the proper amount of respect such an officer would receive in our world: none. This is especially silly considering that supernatural things clearly are happening, but it does provide a good reason for everyone to treat him like crap and say even more goofy things as the story progresses. The plot itself wasn't earth shattering, but the fun delivery from all the characters gave it a lot of charm.
The pixel art works nicely. It looks on par with old Lucasarts adventure games and the more modern The Last Door, mingling well with the lighthearted nature. There's just something about this visual style that works for me, whether its funny or deathly-serious. It just flows with the game's tone, and the use of some subtle lighting gives the supernatural moments a feeling of not belonging in this world. It's just creepy enough when it needs to be, but just light enough that it feels like fun.
I want to hear about more of the cases McQueen and Dooley have to solve together. I highly enjoyed the straightforward, logical puzzles, and just want to know more about the kind of otherworldly goings-on that are happening in Twin Lakes City. At minimum, they'll be worth a good laugh as those two fight and banter back and forth through each new case. The Darkside Detective demo (which you can play too and see for yourself) started off strong with some well-written, genuinely funny dialogue and great gameplay. Can't wait to see what DoomCube can do with the full-length game.