Hands-off Preview: If Sam Fisher was a badass Vampire, you'd get Dark
Stealth games are all the rage these days. Whether you're stepping in the shoes of Agent 47 in Hitman: Absolution, or perhaps clearing your name as the bodyguard Corvo in Dishonored, you have a number of ways to be both invisible and badass at the same time. Kalypso, known publisher behind titles like the Tropico series and Jagged Alliance, are also taking a stab at the stealth genre with DARK, a game that has you playing as newly turned vampire, Eric Bane.
As Eric Bane, who used to be part of an elite special forces team called M17, you're trying to figure out the motive behind M17's recent capturing of vampires, as well as why you were turned into one.
One of the more interesting plot points of DARK is that newly turned vampires have to drink the blood of their creators if they want to sustain their normal appearance and live their lives as regular vampires. Not drinking that blood will turn you into a ghoul, which just so happens to be one of the enemies that players will encounter at some point in the game. Naturally, one of the first things players will be doing is looking for their creator.
Eric Bane is essentially Sam Fisher, except gadgets are replaced with Magic skills that can be utilized to dispose of your enemies stealthily. Much like Hitman: Absolution, however, players can choose their own path to take through the level, allowing them to get creative with their kills. Eric certainly has a variety of moves that aren't just useful, but look extremely fun to pull off.
Some of these moves include Shadow Kill, which allows Eric to instantly kill an enemy after teleporting, or Shadow Grip, which the dev described as a 'Darth Vader grip,' that lets Eric choke and slam enemies from a distance. However, there are also boosting skills such as increased toughness, or the ability to move more quickly with Celerity.
Shadow Vision allows Eric to see enemies across the entire level
Of course, environment awareness in stealth games is key. Much like Dishonored, Eric has the ability to see any enemies (that have blood coursing through their veins) anywhere in the level, as they're highlighted in red. This Vampire Vision allows for strategic thinking of how to go about disposing of enemies, especially in a way to not raise any alarms. However, the beauty of DARK is that getting discovered can be just as fun as staying hidden, mainly due to Eric's awesome powers.
As players progress, enemies get smarter and employ better armor that won't allow Eric to drink their blood or attack them head-on, encouraging players to be slightly more strategic in their approach. As the dev explained, each level is a puzzle of sorts, and will require planning and strategy.
DARK is considered a third-person, stealth RPG sporting a fully developed leveling system and skill progression, with 16 different skills that can be enhanced multiple times.
The devs wanted to make the game look like a graphic novel, with still cutscenes and a distinct cel-shaded art style, which fits its dark environments quite well. It was important to note that the game I was shown wasn't in its final build, so a few janky animations, did occur, though that might all be ironed out when the game is released.
Players will be able to assume the role of Eric Bane, Vampire, this summer, when the game comes to Xbox 360 and PC.