Games follow a pretty standard formula; a game comes out that has a neat idea, the neat idea is iterated on by others who find it enjoyable, these iterations turn into a new game or a new game idea. Minecraft is the perfect example of a game that created a new idea that was iterated upon and Terraria is an example of a game that applied such iterations. Darkout attempts to pull off a further iteration of that formula and, while it’s in the early stages, it doesn’t do enough to make that leap just yet. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed parts of Darkout to be sure but the game needs a lot of polishing and tweaking.
The version I played, which I believe has since been updated, drops you off in a strange world with little to no instruction. The game plays very much like Terraria in that you have different tools to dig, attack, cut, and so on. Gathering materials and fending off incoming enemies brings you into more and more dangerous and unique locations. The world of Darkout is an interesting twist on the usual look of these types of games.
Darkout features a dark and colorful world that mixes bright color palettes with a sci-fi element that I found attractive and easy to look at. Of course, what makes these sandbox games addicting and enjoyable is the gameplay. Sandbox games typically rely on exploration as the main gameplay element and Darkout sticks to that formula. With an incredible amount of resources and ways to tackle different obstacles, Darkout is certainly not lacking in the way of choices and options. When you’re first dropped into the game world you get a brief tutorial of what to do and where to go. While the controls seem intuitive at first, I found myself struggling with them quite a bit.
All I can say about that is read the manual that’s included with the game. The text-based tutorial does little to make the gameplay enjoyable or understandable but thankfully the manual is more detailed. The majority of the game is focused around gathering resources, fending off the shadow creatures that inhabit this strange world, and researching new facilities within your base. Once you get the ball rolling and the resources gathered you can build yourself a shelter filled with rooms and facilities. This gives you access to new features and expands the game world further. All in all I liked the idea of this bunker but I found it frustrating to deal with the enemies that constantly swarmed after me while I was researching, gathering, and so on.
I don’t dislike Darkout but I found the game difficult to enjoy at times. I’m not sure if it was my frustration with the controls, the weird glitches I ran into here and there, or just the need for polish the game cries out for. My time in Darkout was a mixture of frustration, interest, and confusion. With a little more fleshing out and tweaking there might be something special here, otherwise it’s just another cookie-cutter sandbox experience.