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Iceberg gets spooky in space with Dark Matter on Steam
 
                     
 

Veteran video game publisher Iceberg Interactive announced today it is tapping into gamers’ inner xenophobe by announcing that the action-packed horror survival side-scroller Dark Matter is available today on Steam as well as GOG.com, with other digital portals and English and German retail releasing the game tomorrow. Dark Matter is simultaneously launched for the PC, Mac and Linux platforms.

For more information on Dark Matter, please visit the official Steam page here:  http://store.steampowered.com/app/251410 .

Developer Interwave Studios Delivers Hard-Hitting 2.5D Survival Platformer mid-October 2013 

           

Dark Matter is an adventure set in deep space and reminiscent of several Science Fiction movies. The ENDEAVOUR comes across an alien ship in space, hails it in friendship and pretty soon is overrun by an Alien Horde. As the hero of the game you are landed on the Endeavour and thus begins a challenge of survival against the horror of the unknown. There is a heavy emphasis on combat and exploration as you move to the left, right, up or down, in an intense setting created by the use of dark and light. "Players must decide whether to use environmental resources to prevent an unknown alien presence from ravaging them to pieces, or skilfully wield upgradable weapons one bullet at a time to stay alive."

           

The first thing that bothered me was that I (my character) is on a spaceship firing bullets and that after 10 shots I had to reload. I cannot imagine that weapons in this sci-fi future would still be firing projectiles when at the very least lasers would be available. Shooting bullets in such an environment would be, I would think, extremely dangerous.  Despite there being numerous metal cave-ins and other blockages that prevent movement in certain directions, and the destroyed panels and wiring, the lifts (elevators) still work, as do the electronic doors - or at least the majority of them do, some have busted electronics. You have to be careful when using the doors as if you get touched by one when it is closing you will die. It is also possible to reach through the wide doorway and click on the door panel on the otherside to close the door - if you do this you will die. Actually you don't actually reach through the doorway you just position the cursor over it and click - gives your arm a reach of about 6 feet. Some of the corridors are blocked by tentacle monsters. These take at least 3 hits to kill and then quite often, just as you think you are safe, a critter skitters out and attacks you; another 3 shots are required.

This is another example of a 2D/3D game where the flat background and the heroic character gives the impression of depth. Everything about DARK MATTER is set up to excite fans of the dark sci-fi genre and bring back memories of films like ALIEN, DARK STAR etc; the story (so well known that it has passed the test of time) - the environment (a damaged spacecraft filled with the unknown) and the (already mentioned) mood lighting being all eerie in purple and electric blue, plus of course there are all the darkened passages.  There are few in the way of puzzles or challenges, other than surviving by locating weapon caches and killing every alien creature you come across.



Visually it is quite enticing, the 2D/3D working well together, and the audio is representative of the game in general. The action is fast when it comes, too fast sometimes especially when there are more creatures on you before you can reload, but there is no sense of urgency which is not as you might expect considering the situation. Also, with it being a side-scrolling platform style game, the ability to explore the inner depths of a space hulk and discover its, and its newest inhabitants, secrets is severely diminished. In my opinion this should have either been a straightforward action shooter, and thus suited to the scrolling mechanic, or an adventure in space, in which case a more detailed fully explorable ship, maybe utilising older technology such as the old overhead view or like the original Diablo game to give the game depth would have been better in the long run. Not that there is such a long run in DARK MATTER for it is a surprisingly quick finish considering the possibilities. It isn't quite directly linear but it is very close to being so.

Just reading the key features (below) gives you an idea of how short the gameplay is. 14 levels sounds not bad, but they are short levels, and only 4 different weapons is nothing to herald about. However, some of the features, such as the freeze, dissolve, electrocute or set fire to your adversaries brighten up the play a little and ensure that the game has more highs than lows. I liked the game idea, the graphics, the audio, the effects (mostly - I thought the single tentacle from a pile of plastic looking slime was a bit tacky) and the attempt to bring atmosphere to a game that really needed it. It isn't the best side-scroller I have played but it is a long way from being anywhere near the worst. I would rate it as suitable for 12-16 years olds who enjoy their science fiction action more simplistic than complexicated.

Dark Matter’s key features include: 

•14 levels set in a gritty tale of deep space survival                            •Four weapons, each with four ammo types                       •The ability to collect scrap and alien resources to craft tools and health packs

•Specialized weapon upgrades that enable players to develop their own combat techniques                                                         •Complex enemy AI that reacts to player actions and tactics               •Non-linear exploration and storytelling

•Elemental ammo effects enabling gamers to freeze, dissolve, electrocute or set fire to their enemies                                          •Light and darkness are integral parts of gameplay, not just visual touches 

•Uncompromisingly real-time light and shadow casting for spine-tingling moments of pure, darkness-fuelled terror                  •Clean, hand-painted textures and custom-shading techniques are combined in a unique visual style

•Dynamic soundtrack that adapts to gameplay circumstances            •Steam Cloud support for save games                                 •SteamPlay, available for Windows, OSX and Linux

For more on Dark Matter, please visit darkmatterthegame.com

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015