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When I told them, what I did in that ancient crypt, they refused to believe me.
They said that there was no such crypt, nor could there have been anyone buried there by that name.
But I have seen these things. Doesn't that make me mad?
Now, I cannot see through the darkness within me....
The second in a conceived trilogy of games. Darkness Within 2 is an excellent adventure game borrowing heavily in both themes and plot, from the rich works of celebrated 1920s horror fiction writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Dark and sinister, the player reprises his role as private investigator-turned escapted mental patient Howard Loreid, as he delves ever further into the mysterious Loath Nolder case, uncovering more and more about the history of the people he now finds himself surrounded by, and the ever-darkening nature of his own sorry state.
The first game in the series utilized a point-and-click myst-style means of motion, with single 3d screens to navigate by taking several steps forward at a time, with beautifully stylized, lit and rendered environments throughout, like nothing I've ever seen in a game. The second one, this, one ,makes a technological leap from its original, showing the environments with full first person perspective which, with all the beautifully ostentatious lighting effects, looks equally impressive.
To progress, the player must find "clues" in all kinds of ways - uncovering secrets, talking to people, and most of the time, literally underlining passages in numerous texts and thinking about them and before taking these abstract notions from a special screen in Howard's inventory and combining them with other thoughts, in order to reach conclusions about the case, which in turn, will help you progress. This a brilliantly innovative technique and completely original and superbly conceived. Alongside this, items must be combined and used with the environment in intelligent and though-provoking ways in an unusually engaging adventure game style. It is worth noting, however, that some puzzles are very obtuse, and may have you stuck for some time, but if you're committed, and spend enough time thinking logically and laterally, you're bound to get through them without too much fuss.
Rather than the first game, which was mostly only Lovecraftian in themes and atmosphere, this game is a full Lovecraft horrific joyride, with constant haunting references to mythological beasts; the ancient ones, shoggoths, hommunculae, and of couse everyone's favourite: The Great Cthulhu.
Much of the horror is perceived through implication, and what you think might be going on. The game is rich in terrifying touches and completely unique, but as opposed to the original, the emphasis is now on character interaction and on-screen puzzles, and the meticulous document research and literal cognitive processes have been somewhat sidelined, but not in a way that spoils the game.
Visually, the game is still very impressive, though the new first person vibe does detract a little bit from the style of the game. Objects are more mysterious when they're only in faux-3D, and being able to run and jump is completely unnecessary for this game, and although it mostly detracts, one thing that does add to the ambience is the fact that you can always hear. each. and. every. step.
The musical score is a bit similar to the first game for my liking, and since the music was so important there, it would have been nice to have some newer tracks, since they really help to set the tone, but the theme is still delightfully eerie and works well.
The game has a few settings, and you can get about on foot or by car. Loreid can visit a few shops, houses and inns and the mysterious, depressing town of Arkhamend, and explore terrifically creepy buildings including an ancient mansion and on old dilapidated nursing home. *shudder* all of which are clouded by fog and entrenched in heavy snow, with icy winds ever afoot.
As well as difficulty settings, graphics can be customized. The game supports a very, very wide variety of resolutions which is fantastic, each one looking more impressive than the last, so it'll be years before this starts looking even marginally dated. - It's a visual feast, with lots of Lovecraftian references and fiendish sequences and exchanges. One thing worth warning you about is that the system requirements are a bit generous with the truth on the box. To run this in full-spec, you'll need a fairly powerful computer. Nothing ridiculous, just reasonable, and you'll also need one of Nvidia's latest graphics cards, say from the past 3 years or so.
Despite it's open ending (no spoilers) the conclusions drawn will seem a little drab should you fail to acknowledge that this is the second part of a trilogy. You'll definitely get more out of the game if you're planning to play the third one, in which case, it might help to start at the first. All in all though, the story is very deep and often a bit shudder-inducing. This is a rare gem and one of the best horror titles I have ever played. I would highly and wholeheartedly recommend it to both adventure games enthusiasts and horror gamers alike. A hell of a title.