Overdue Reviews: Darker

A screenshot from Darker, showing the view from an aircraft over a city.

Overdue Reviews is an occasional series in which I pretend to be a videogame journalist. This week: Darker on PC.

Darker was a futuristic space simulator published in the mid nineties. I had a demo of it. It was unique and fascinating. I was captivated.

It came on a floppy disk stuck to the cover of a magazine. The objective was to keep an aircraft aloft over a futuristic night time city for as long as possible. Each time you flew over a light it went out, but your craft received a burst of speed. Eventually all the lights were exhausted and you slowly, inevitably, fell to the ground.

I played it endlessly, each time trying to push the limits of how long it could last. I loved that demo.

But later I read a review that gave the full game only an average score, and suggested that the gameplay I'd experienced either featured very little or not at all. I was heartbroken. Despite Darker's apparent initial attempt to do something unique and interesting within an established genre, it seemed that the developers had backtracked and opted for a safer and more traditional sci-fi flight sim instead.

Of course, games that do unusual twists on familiar themes are all the rage these days, but back then the pickings were slimmer. I was left so traumatised by the loss of this beautiful gaming moment that I've never since even tried the demo again, let alone tried to track down the full game to see how it eventually turned out.

It has remained my greatest what-if gaming moment - did the full game ever live up to the promise of the demo? Is it a lost treasure, waiting to be picked up and enjoyed to the full, or a nostalgia-destroying inevitable disappointment?

I think, honestly, that I'd rather not find out.


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