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Darkout Review: Craft, Explore, and Survive

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When Minecraft exploded in popularity, we got many indie games that had a striking similarity to the voxel based sandbox adventure title. Now that Terraria has expanded to consoles, the appearance of 2D sandbox survival games is rising. One of these games is Darkout. While it isn't a well structured game like Terraria, it certainly has that level of challenge and large crafting tree available. The graphics are more 2.5D and it looks rather nice. It looks good enough to draw your attention but this is a game not for the impatient gamer.

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Crashed and alone on a world mankind tried to leave behind, Darkout challenges players to survive on Illuna, in harsh, procedurally generated biomes, utilizing the game’s sandbox features to build shelters, craft weapons, and research new technologies. You are not alone. Light-sensitive creatures prowling the landscapes become most active at night and in a world shrouded by clouds the security of day will never come, instead, twilight periods allow players minor security to explore, rebuild, and gather resources. Darkout’s deep history manifests itself through logs left behind by others, some recent, while others hearken back to long-extinct natives of Illuna, offering glimpses into what events led up to the pandemonium that now persists.

The game has a hefty amount of lore embedded in the logs left from other visitors. What is nice is that many of them can be read aloud to you, so while you are listening to the log you just found you can continue exploring. In this sense, it has more story oriented themes than games like it such as Terraria or Minecraft which are more player driven. As you progress through Darkout you will have SOS signals to find and you may even find some other downed ships. The feeling of being marooned on a foreign planet is certainly well conveyed through not only the gameplay, but the atmosphere.

Much like sandbox survival games, you will do whatever you can to mine out precious materials to create new weapons and new ways to keep yourself safe from the creatures that inhabit the world. What I really like about Darkout that shows it is not a Terraria clone is how things are made. Sure you collect materials and use various machines to refine them, but to get armor or weapons they must be researched. Research points are added when you dig up various materials or loot crates found in the wild. Researching requires its own materials as does making the new items. When it comes to armor you go through multiple versions before discovering an entirely new set. Visually they are different as well as their stats and bonus abilities. It is really nice and adds a lot of depth to the crafting system.

You are constantly in a state of “What to do next” it can be exploring or refining your hideout, regardless you will never feel prepared. Everything about Darkout is darkness. So naturally it feels like the game is too dark but that is the point. If you don't have light sources, odds are you will fall through a hole in the ground and die. Everything about Darkout is based around the unknown, that is what makes other sandbox survival games so successful. You will never play through the same game more than once.

Building actual structures is more free form in Darkout than it is in other games. You are given much more room with how far you can place structures. Since the ways to ascend are limited you end up using wood the fastest to make platforms. You quickly learn that supplies get short quickly. Sadly, this is also a hindrance because to make most of the items you will need, you must refine them into other items first. The deep crafting system is both a blessing and a curse.

One of my biggest issues with Darkout is the movement. It feels as if there is no defined height you can jump. No matter how much I hold down the jump button it feels like the maximum jump distance changes. Traversing caverns becomes very tiresome because of the odd hitboxes and how you dig out tunnels. A nice feature is the ability to dig out a group of blocks or a singular block. Another cool feature is the action bar system that every slot has two functions, the LMB and RMB have different assignments. It makes for mining an easier experience.

Darkout is a nice game, it offers something that Minecraft and Terraria don't. Unfortunately, Darkout suffers from odd controls and strange movement with an relatively unbalanced crafting system. I would say this game is for the avid Terraria player because it feels similar but entirely different at the same time. You just need some time to get used to how the game controls. People who want quick gaming fun will find Darkout to be incredibly boring. I give Darkout a 7/10. This game is very playable, but only for a select group of PC gamers. You can get it on Steam and Desura now.


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