So, I decided I was craving some First Person Shooter action. And of course, I had to roll with an obscure but fairly run of the mill game.
The mechanics are fairly standard, you shoot, you aim, you can throw grenades, occasionally find turrets or artillery you can use. You can only carry 2 weapons at a time, and there are also marble-like things called Chasers - throughout the game, you'll encounter special enemies that have blue aura around them. They are "history figures", even though they look like any ordinary enemy. You are not supposed to kill them, instead you have to incapacitate them, which can be done by shooting at their legs or shoulders, apparently. I always aimed for the legs though. Seekers are an alternative mean of dispatching of them. If you actually kill them, the time stops for the surrounding action, and special forces are dispatched to get rid of you, which are fairly tough if you don't have good weapons. Also, you receive less skill points after you beat a level which are necessary for upgrading weapon handling, which I'll discuss later. So... just don't kill them, ok?
For the most part, the acting of shooting is nothing really special, but there are a few things that I like that stand out to me. For one, the act of reloading. When you reload, a circular gauge is being filled, which displays a green area. If you hit the reload button again when in that green area, the reloading goes faster, but if you fail, the weapon jams, making reloading slower. This makes the act of reloading more active and interesting. I'm sure you can point out to some trendy/popular FPS that has this mechanic, and I admit I haven't played that many first person shooter games, but to me, it feels like a unique system. The closest thing I can think of is Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, where you can unlock a perk where you can make reloading go faster if you mash the reload button, but it's not the same. Speaking of perks, as I mentioned earlier, there are weapon handling upgrades, you get a few points each level (unless you screw up with those history figures). All weapons are divided into two categories: rifles and sidearm. Both have same kind of upgrades: you can upgrade aiming accuracy, clip size, reloading speed and firing rate. Not very deep, but at least its something to spice up the gameplay and make it a little more strategic. There's a map, that you physically hold in your hand, which is cool, and when you get captured at POW prison during Second World War, the map gets holes in it and scribbles of your objectives, a nice little detail that I like. Another minor thing I like, is that the army helmets are actually protective. In you try to get a headshot at a certain angle, you may shoot their helmet away, and not get the headshot. Pretty neat, though I recently discovered Medal of Honor for PS1 had that feature in 1999. I don’t know if it’s common.
There are some things that I don't like however. The game is a bit heavy on invisible walls, even in places which could make for a small shortcut, which annoyed me quite a bit. The maps are pretty sizeable, it feels like the devs probably wanted to add in a multiplayer with these sprawling maps, but there's no multiplayer in this game. Instant Action just puts you through the story levels, though you can adjust the gear and such to vary it I guess. I think it would've been nice to have some hidden collectibles to add in a bit of exploration, otherwise the maps feel kind of wasted space most of the time, and it's an insanely linear affair, secrets have been a staple of first person shooters since Wolfenstein 3D. I also wish there was some way to review dialogue, or for subtitles to be more potent, the subtitles are slow but don't hold a whole lot of info, which is especially vital for tutorials which don't have standard text box messages or stuff like that. I had to reload a save to re-listen to what the guy was saying. I died a fair amount, occasionally it feels like the enemies aimbot you to death. The game lacks any sort of manual saving, so I couldn't pussy out by savescumming, but the checkpoints are adequate, so it’s not too bad. I did have to reload an earlier save because I ran out of ammo for both weapons and could barely scrape any, but it wasn’t too bad. What was bad, is that the game started crashing in the last level, even loading saves crashed the game, so I had to reload earlier saves to progress. I once got a chance to enter a pool of water, and I just sank, as if I was wearing Power Armor from Fallout 4. Other places just insta-kill you if you try to go for a dip. Lastly for glitches, I noticed you can’t use mouse properly to look around in windowed mode. Solid programming right there. Not a glitch, but walking and running animations for the player character feel like they're skipping, instead of properly walking/running. The story feels like a bit of a mess, it involves time travel, which in itself opens a can of confetti worms, though it does allow you to use futuristic weapons.
I would lie if I said I didn’t enjoy my time with Darkest of Days at least a little bit. I guess I was starving hard enough that even an unremarkable budget title could satisfy me. The gunplay is decent enough, but in general the game does feel a bit unpolished. I don’t think the game is the worst, there are a few gameplay aspects that I like, but I also wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend this to anyone. It does have "With Chest Hair" as hard difficulty option, so it's obviously a 10.1 out of 10.