I tend to harp on the overly simplistic ports that have inundated the Switch since its release. The one to ten-year-old ports that have crowded the eShop can be annoying, and it’s that over crowdedness which can bury a great indie game under all the clutter. If you can manage to wade through all of the nonsense, you might just be lucky enough to find The Darkside Detective, from Spooky Doorway and Isometric Dreams. I simply adore everything about this title, with the story, humor, music, and overall premise of this game overjoying me. What could easily be dismissed as yet another title from a bygone era, is actually one of the more fun and entertaining titles in the Switch library.
The Darkside Detective Review [Nintendo Switch]
The Darkside Detective is a cross between the The X-Files, Kolchak, and Twin Peaks, and follows around Detective Francis McQueen as he attempts to solve mysteries of the supernatural. Following the Detective on his cases is officer Dooley, a dim-witted, but hilarious beat cop who adds little help to the case, but a whole lot of entertainment to the player. As the pair work on cases involving members of the occult, ghosts, monsters, and the paranormal, the detective must put all the pieces together to uncover the mysteries of the Darkside.
The game is rather simple at its core, and is mostly a point/drag and click adventure. There’s no free movement, but rather you click on the direction or room you want to go and the slide changes. Each room and environment (which are all beautifully animated), can be interacted with and searched for clues. As you hover the pointer over objects and people, you’re given the option to either talk, examine, or take. It’s very important to listen to everyone, as clues to the case could, and most likely would, be blurted out.
From haunted police stations, spooky libraries, and eerie subway tunnels, the town of Twin Lakes where this is all set is unique and filled with mysteries. McQueen must make his way throughout each location in order to solve the case, and the objects you find can be combined in order to help. A missed clue or object could mean endless searching for what you’re supposed to do next. The game is about being a detective, so go and detect!
Making the overall experience even more enjoyable is a laugh-out-loud tongue in cheek humor. From the names/puns of the missions and characters to the witty banter, I found myself bursting out into laughter on more than one occasion. I don’t want to ruin any of the funny lines, but in one instance, McQueen and Dooley are standing in a room with a giant marble statue of an angel. Click on the statue, and Dooley simply blurts out “Don’t Blink.” For any Doctor Who super-fan such as myself, that little reference is just about as close to perfection as a nerd can get. These pop culture references and humorous one-liners pop up throughout the game and help to set the adventure apart from similar titles.
The only true negative I can think of is that it’s all too easy. There are only six cases to get through, and I was already on case four by day two. The only time I felt challenged was when I failed to find an important object or didn’t talk to someone and missed a vital clue. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but as someone who is in love with the game, I really wanted the journey to last longer. It’s my hope that the developers release some new cases in a future DLC pack.
When I say I am in love with this game, I mean everything about it, including the music. As I was playing in handheld mode, the music sounded amazing. I slapped on some Bose headphones, and the experience magnified. From composer Ben Prunty, the man behind games such as FTL and Gravity Ghost, the music in Darkside Detective is just beautifully done. Befitting the supernatural tone of the game, Prunty’s score is some of the best music in recent gaming memory. Just remember, this is a simplistic game, so the fact that they put this much effort into the music really shows the passion surrounding the project.