Darkest of Days

released on Sep 07, 2009

Have you ever thought about the possibility of going back in time to rewrite history for the better? That possibility is a reality in Darkest of Days, where players will travel back and forth through the annals of time to relive some of mankind's most dire hours.

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A level designer for this game joined the twitch chat when Rocky from Kemonofriendzone was streaming this and he mentioned that the prisoner camp level was just a bunch of Auschwitz assets hastily modified and there were plans for a 9/11 level just in case you couldn't tell this was a game made by people from Something Awful lol

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.

You'd think being able to mow down an entire regiment of confederate soldiers using a futuristic rifle would be enough to carry any game, but this 7th gen Kusoge just couldnt hack it. The premise and basic silliness of the plot could have been enough, and had this been a 3 hour game I might honestly recommend it. Unfortunately its a 6 hour game and runs out of charm way sooner than that.
The premise is that you are an american soldier at the battle of little bighorn who was declared Missing In Action (M.I.A) which means that the secret future agency that keeps the integrity of the timeline can kidnap you and forcibly conscript you to do their bidding. Essentially you are tasked with keeping time flowing how it was supposed to, but honestly the rules are unclear and it doesnt seem to matter much. Some people absolutely have to be saved, but going ham on the confederate line during the battle of Antietam with an automatic shotgun apparently doesnt alter history all that much.
The voice acting is bad but in a way thats slightly amusing so I'll forgive it. Theres little variety in the gameplay and only two theatres! The American Civil war and the Eastern Front in WW1! (ok and a final thing in ancient rome but still). Also I know this game definitely isnt trying to be historically accurate cause the Germans have british tanks at the battle of tannenberg, but thats like the least of it honestly.
The main problem is that well, the gameplay is shit. The AI is bad and basic, the missions are boring but tolerable at first, the story is padded as fuck and nonsensical. The shooting is dull and the art direction is, well, I guess for a budget xbox 360 game its okay, even if it makes enemies nigh on invisible at times with how they blend in with the background even whilst they are shooting at you (which okay I guess that was the point but gameplay wise its annoying). The difficulty is also pretty dumb, they just make the A.I have stormtrooper tier aiming during the early missions, but when they can actually hit the broadside of a barn from 2 meters away it becomes annoying, cause you just get shot at from every which way and the generous autosave doesnt make it all that much more tolerable. Thats when adorably shitty starts to become "patience testingly shitty".
I suppose I should mention how its a first person shooter that completely takes any sort of solemnity or sense of somber reflection on the titular dark days of two of the most bloody conflicts of modern western history. I dont usually let that bother me cause honestly these games are so dumb, but it does start to slighlty affect me, especially during the tannenberg sections mowing down waves and waves of german soldiers as if they were paper targets rather than thinking, feeling humans sent to die in a horrible war. Even in the civil war sections it starts to feel numbing to kill so many people even if they were fighting for the cause of slavery, consciously or not. Idk If I can really add anything insightful about it all it just kinda makes me a bit sad.
I wish I could say this game was enjoyably crappy but it just goes to show how hard it is for videogames to be "so bad its good" due to the nature of having to personally push through it. I didnt finish the game btw, It just annoyed me a bit too much to forgive everything else so I dropped it. Whatever

A fantastic premise with hilarious gunplay that is essentially let down by its own mediocrity. I did enjoy vaporizing ancient Romans with futuristic weaponry though. No comment on the way it takes the horrors of wars like World War 1 lightly, because it's just a game.

The issues with this game pile high beyond the neat premise. Gameplay eventually devolves to waves of enemies that will kill you in seconds near the end. The story will make you side-eye the intent and meaning. Also, total cliff-hanger. It really isn't worth a play just to have a machine gun in the Civil War.