It happens that during a particularly dark night, a shooting star crashes on the ground of Darkestville, a charming town (but not so much) in which everyone knows everyone and life goes on serene and placid. It happens that that meteorite brings with it a guest as a dowry: Cid, the protagonist of this adventure. Cid is a demon and as such is constantly driven by the desire to create trouble and confusion around you. Growing up in the Darkestville community, his fellow citizens have learned to tolerate his behavior even though they almost seem to have marginalized him. In this scenario, just a few moments before implementing the evil plan to feed the pigeons that inhabit the small town with laxative, the story told by the game begins.
A night apparently like any other begins for our Cid. Like every evening, the demon tries to make a local mind and decide which prank to focus on in the hours to come. Dan, historical nemesis (or perhaps it would be better to define him as a comic shoulder) of our protagonist, takes care of interrupting the flow of absurdity that Cid seems to be pouring out, almost as if he wanted to entertain an imaginary audience. Dan's intentions are clear: to lock the demon inside his castle. It's just a pity that to implement his plan he cannot leave the front door, right where there is one of the many traps scattered around the property. Although the latter has been tampered with, the player has the opportunity to repair it, thus becoming familiar with the controls and the actual gameplay, finally managing to free himself. Just when everything seems to have settled down, Dan reveals the trump card: it was all a diversion to allow the Romero brothers, previously hired by the naive little man, to sneak into the castle and capture Cid. Accomplice of the case, to be captured will instead be the big fish, with an effectively demonic aspect, pet animal of our virtual alter ego. Cid must therefore try his hand atarduous task of freeing your pet from the Demonic Chest.
These are the first few minutes of the game. Despite not telling of particularly inspired vicissitudes, the story is almost always told with the right timing and accompanied by absurdly funny dialogues.
I've seen this Darkestville before
From the very first minutes Darkestville is graphically very clean, at least on Nintendo Switch. Sure, the practically drawn graphic style and the absence of any particle and three-dimensional effect helps, but the colors and lines are always well defined, vivid and generally pleasing to the eye. The animations, although not particularly numerous, are made in a sufficient way, managing to get a few laughs in the most comic moments and trying to animate a purely static scenario.
The locations, however, show the side of an artistic direction that turns out to be one of the weak points of the independent production in question. The graphic style deliberately inspired by the great classics (did someone say Monkey Island?) slams violently on the visual impact offered by the scenarios. The latter are not badly drawn, even if they are almost never able to surprise except for purely comic details, but they are always too poor in movement and characters to interact with. If we add to this the fact that there are not many “pictures” to be explored - indeed, until about halfway through the game they could be counted almost on the fingertips of one hand - it is easy to understand where the disappointment for this aspect comes from.
Unfortunately, the same speech must be made regarding the characters design: net of the protagonist and some particularly successful supporting actors, the NPCs scattered during the adventure offered by Darkestville are too often visually anonymous and from the charisma emerging from the dialogues decidedly set downwards. Just think of Foxy, the feminine note of the Romero trio, who turns out to be a prosperous red-haired girl with a fox tail. Not the maximum of originality in short.
I've heard this Darkestville before
The dialogues are fully dubbed (in English means; but the localization of the Italian texts is still present) managing to act as fundamental key for the comedy proposed by the game in question, which heavily focuses on sarcasm. Therefore the absence of a real recitation of the texts would have made it difficult to understand some lines and comic tempos.
Unfortunately, the soundtrack that accompanies the entire narrative arc suffers from a really big problem: the inspiration from other works is too obvious. In fact, it happens very often to hear tunes which refer, not too remotely, to other video games. I found two tracks that are very similar to the main theme of Luigi's Mansion and that of the Clearing of Rayman 2. Obviously we are talking about pure sensations.
I've already played this Darkestville
After examining the technical aspects offered by Darkestville it's time to discuss the actual gameplay.
The title is in fact based on a kind of SCUMM system. The items in the inventory are combinable with each other and can be selected for interaction with characters and environmental points of interest. Unfortunately, this classic system collides with a limited number of objects and interactions, without being able to mask this paucity of content as the great classics of the genre launched on the market in the 90s did.
The player can also decide to interact, observe or talk with the NPCs and with the selectable objects in the scenario. This fake freedom, however, reveals its true nature already after a few minutes of play, letting the player guess that he must trivially interact with everything throughout the course of the adventure.
The same goes for the puzzles that are placed in front of the user: once everything is collected, you don't need to do anything but try it out rather than sharpening your wits for faster advancement. Considering then that some key events are objectively unlikely, the result is that if the player fails to fully immerse himself in the comic mood by embarrassing himself in wanting to solve the puzzles with logic, the drift described above of "trying them all in the meantime, sooner or later you can" it is inevitable.
I've already finished this Darkestville
Finally, a positive note, even if anticipated, is the purely comic streak behind Darkestville able to have a positive impact also in verbal interactions with NPCs. Writing is pleasant and always fun, thus encouraging you to try all the possibilities present in the various dialogue trees.
Too bad, however, that the small amount of characters does not allow this aura of sarcasm, absolutely successful, to rise above the average and make up for the enormous string of problems described above that afflict the production throughout the course of the adventure, which in any case it can be completed in about 5/6 hours.