June 8th, 2008

Exterminate

Not Quite So Spooky

Following on last weekend's binge with The Lost Crown, I borrowed (and finished in a grand total of about five hours) tokmutti's copy of Lights Out (Dark Fall II), which I hadn't played yet. Purportedly a sequel to Dark Fall: The Journal, it uses the same basic engine and framework, and has a few overlapping characters or background elements, but is really a separate game rather than a direct sequel.

Unfortunately, particularly right on the heels of The Lost Crown, Lights Out fell a bit flat. Some of it was the time-sliding science fiction angle — instead of a spooky ghost hunt, Lights Out felt more like an episode of Doctor Who. While the first Dark Fall and The Lost Crown both had some of that element in it, the entire premise behind Lights Out depends on it, and while it may be just me, I don't find that the two graft together all that well.

The ending, I'm sad to say, was a bit of a let-down as well. Mr. Boakes does seem to have a recurring problem in this regard — once the last puzzle is solved, the game is over, with little-to-no denouement, and no direct evidence that you've succeeded — like actually showing you scenes of the main character(s) being alive, well, and happy again for instance. In Lights Out this is particularly pronounced, with your only reward being that the endgame animation tells you in passing that "all his crimes are undone" (which presumably can be extrapolated to mean that the lighthouse keepers didn't vanish, your character didn't get slandered by history, everybody at the D.E.O.S. labs was {will be?} fine, and so on). But just as you're looking for the payoff, the credits roll.

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It's not that there's nothing good in Lights Out because there are some neat bits and a few interesting ideas. But on the whole, it's only really interesting in terms of its connection to the other games (Hadden Industries, the mysterious mariner Spivey, the Reubens family, a glimpse of Polly White, etc.) than as a strong entry on its own. Let's hope Dark Fall 3, which is supposedly in the works, will be a bit stronger.

-The Gneech