At one point Jackie’s tentacle arms bit into the legs of an enemy and ripped him in half. “That’s called the wishbone,” a developer at Digital Extremes said with a smirk, “It’s one of many finishers we’ve added to The Darkness II.” In all honesty, he could have stopped right there, given us the release date, and sent us on our way. We’d seen all we needed to see. But they didn’t stop—they kept showing more, and the more we saw the more excited we got.
One of the reasons this attack was so impressive was because of the game’s new graphical style. Instead of the dark, gritty visual aesthetic of the original, The Darkness II looks like a comic book come to life, which is fitting, considering it’s based on a comic book. Beyond looking absolutely gorgeous, it helps differentiate areas of light and darkness—a key element of the gameplay. For Jackie to use the powers of The Darkness (which allow him to sprout snake-like tentacles to complement his other, less demonic hands) he needs to be, well, in the darkness. When he’s in the light he’s blinded and weak, so it’s good to be able to see where the light ends and where the sweet, sweet darkness begins.
While his extra appendages are great for tearing enemies apart and eating hearts with their gnashing teeth, they have other uses as well, including the ability to grab foes and use objects in the environment offensively and defensively. His powers can be upgraded throughout the game with Jackie spending Essence Points on four skill trees: Demonic, Gun Channeling, Mystic, and Weapons. These will give both passive and active bonuses, including the extremely helpful ability to give Jackie unlimited ammo for a limited amount of time.
His demon arms also emasculate him on occasion, prompting him to get angry and punch them in the face. It only happened a few times in the demo, but each time we had a good laugh at Jackie’s deteriorating mental state. After the events of the first game, Jackie has keep the evil inside of him bottled up, refusing to let their dark power manifest. Now that he’s calling upon them again they’re making it clear that they don’t plan on being tucked away again, and they take every chance they get to let him know.
For now, he needs them. Jackie’s new enemy is The Brotherhood, an organization founded solely to destroy the Darkness, and they’re more of a threat than the unorganized mobsters he slaughtered in the original. They’ve become corrupt over the years, and now they seek to gain the powers for themselves, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous. They’re not only aware of the Darkness strengths, but its weaknesses, so they’ll go far out of their way to use as much light as they can to weaken Jackie’s powers. We saw them throw flashbangs (which is sort of like The Darkness’s kryptonite) and use a car’s headlights to their advantage, showing some nice AI improvements.
Luckily, Jackie also has some new tricks up his sleeve besides large tentacles. While he no longer commands a small army of imp-like Darklings, he is followed persistently around by one companion with both gameplay and plot importance. Digital Extremes says that the lone Darkling will make itself useful throughout the game, and in the demo he proved to be an invaluable ally, driving a vehicle into a building to make an entry, jumping on an enemy’s head to distract him, and even peeing on corpses, which, apparently, helps Jackie in some way.
We’d have asked for more information on how the urination affects gameplay, but there are some questions that are best left unanswered. Maybe, come October, we’ll know more.
Jun 15, 2011