Ever imagine traveling back in time to a particular moment in history to see what it would be like to screw with events that could potentially affect the outcome of the future? What would have happened if Custer’s men were equipped with automatic machine guns? Would he and his men have been able to survive the waves of Indian warriors and come out victorious at the Little Bighorn in 1876? Or what if the Russians had laser-guided precision bombs at the Tannenberg Forest? Could hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers been saved from certain annihilation? Darkest of Daysintroduces gamers to this time odyssey taking them through select conflicts and crises of history.
Darkest of Days takes the player through time into historic battles in an effort to save key individuals from certain death. The battles range from Custer’s Last Stand at the battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 to the chaotic streets of Pompeii in the midst of an erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Other events include the battles of Antietam during the American Civil War, and Tannenberg during the early years of World War I, and a German World War II P.O.W. Camp in Poland. There are different missions in every time period and the game takes only a couple of hours to complete. The game features over twenty weapons, both from the original time period as well as those brought back from the future. In addition, players are given the opportunity to utilize artillery pieces from different time periods to accomplish certain objectives.
The storyline is all about maintaining the course of history by any means necessary. You play as Alexander Morris, a soldier in Custer’s 7th Cavalry at the final battle of the Little Bighorn, who was rescued by agents of Kronotek, an organization dedicated to the continuity of history. You are taken to a futuristic command center and meet Agent Dexter, a New York City firefighter, who for some reason wears a cowboy hat and curses more than needed. You also meet Mother, who only appears on a computer screen with her entire face cut off from the screen with the exception of her eyes. She explains that the man who founded Kronotek, Dr. Koell, has gone missing somewhere in his time travel and needs to be found and brought back. In conjunction with finding Dr. Koell, Miller and Dexter need to rescue two people who have been misplaced within their respective time periods and brought back to Kronotek so that they may be returned to their original role in history. However, a group known as the Opposition are sending agents to disrupt Kronotek’s efforts to restore the balance, which complicates the mission throughout the game.
The game play is pretty straightforward. Players are required to save certain other individuals who are important to the continuity of history. There are two types of characters who fall into this category: the first types are the key individuals that the player must rescue so that they can be placed back into their correct place in time, who are represented with an orange aura. The second types are random characters highlighted with a blue aura who can be saved by wounding them in their limbs or using a weapon called chasers that knock them out. This way the characters are taken out of the battle without being killed. As a result, at the end of each level you are award points, which allow players to upgrade their rifle and pistol skills ranging from accuracy to rate of fire.
If you kill a blue aura character multiple times, this can trigger a visit by the Opposition who use the disturbance caused by their deaths to track down and attempt to kill the player. Opposition agents tend to be heavily armed and shielded making many period weapons useless against their superior technology. They are not completely indestructible later on and can be killed allowing the player the opportunity to seize their weapons.
The game has several issues, most notably, forcing players to accomplish objectives with little room for flexibility. It also has several bugs such as objectives disappearing and people talking to you when there is no one there. Also. the graphics seem a little outdated for a new game of 2009. Despite these shortcomings, the game has some features that are worth noting. The most prominent of these features is the historical background. The developers did well in their research on the weapons of each period and their handling was well executed. The tactics of the soldiers portrayed in each period was also impressive. For instance, when you are at the battle of Antietam during the Civil War, you take part on the Union attack on Confederate positions in the cornfield near Dunker Church, you advance in line of battle and watch as the rest of your comrades fire their rifles simultaneously. I was also impressed that in each period that the protagonist is sent to, the language is of the period. Russians were actually speaking Russian rather than speaking English with a bad Russian accent.
Overall, Darkest of Days is not as bad of a game as some say. Yes, it does have its shortcomings. However, there are many positives as well. Though it is not a bad game, it is not a great game either. But, if you have a thing for tampering with historical events, then this is definitely a game worth renting.