Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X
April 15, 2021
Come and visit the totally normal and totally NOT haunted city of Twin Lakes. Enjoy such delights as black market cookie vendors, retirement home raves and very naughty spirit clowns. Somehow these strange yet common occurrences go largely unnoticed by the populace. Luckily for Twin Lakes, the two heroes of The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark have a knack for bringing the law down on any dark and paranormal happenings that this city (and beyond) can throw at them.
The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark is a point and click pixel adventure that follows our protagonist Detective Francis McQueen and his best (boy)friend and partner, Officer Patrick Dooley. Together they work in the Darkside Division, the first and last line of defence against the occult and paranormal. It’s also the second game in the Darkside Detective series, starting off where the previous game ended with our hero heading off to find and rescue Officer Dooley. Now, before we continue on I would like to mention that I have not had the delight of playing the first game yet. However, I have found that you do not need to have played the previous instalment to enjoy this game.
Each chapter of A Fumble in the Dark is separated into 6 case files for you to solve. Each one as bizarre and satirical as the next. The storyline is not so deep and linear that you need to play everything in order. However, there are off-hand references and characters you will meet along the way relating to your experiences in the first game.
So if you like your lore and character backstories, you will want to make sure you play The Darkside Detective first. Regardless of which order you play these games, I guarantee you will have a good time. I bought myself a copy of the first game the moment I finished reviewing The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark because with no word of exaggeration, this game was hysterical in both meanings of the word… and I LOVED it.
If you haven’t had the chance to play a point and click game before, they are very simple. Point at what you want to look at/pick up/talk to, and click… that’s it. Simple! This then allows more room for your problem-solving side of the brain to spread out and get cozy.
There are many objects and sprites for you to interact with. Some you can investigate, others you may find useful and place into your inventory to sit there for half an hour while you try and figure out what you need to use it with. You can get yourself stuck in puzzle limbo pretty easily if you don’t talk to enough people and do so frequently. Some conversations can be comical nonsense, while others will help you advance the game and find clues.
So you really do want to make sure you explore every little corner you can in each case. Though the gameplay is a kind of a puzzle in itself, each case does actually hold a specific puzzle-solving minigame. They are all relatively simple though. It’s a very user friendly style of gameplay, so any level of gamer is able to enjoy what this title has to offer. Once you solve a case and save the day, you are then able to move on to the next one.
The real meat and flavour of the game comes from the writing and dialogue. Oh boy, would I love to give the writer of this game several gold stars. Not just any gold stars either, but those special scratch and sniff ones reserved for only the coolest of kids. There is no voice acting in the game, so its story relies heavily upon its text. It’s quirky, satirical and doesn’t take anything seriously, including itself. In some games of similar writing styles, this can end up being too much and spoiling the overall atmosphere of the game. I really didn’t find this to be the case with A Fumble in the Dark. It seems to have found its perfect balance between all elements of writing, art and sound design to make this work in its favour.
There are plenty of real-world and pop culture references and jokes to find within the game. Not to mention, there is so much 4th wall breaking that I’m not sure whether this game ever had a wall to begin with. The pixels are so self-aware that I half expected them to get bored and shut the game off themselves… and that is a frightening thought.
Mentioning pixels though, we need to talk about the art and sound design of The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark. Pixel art, in my opinion, has a tendency to bend itself in either a really great direction or a really poor one. I’m happy to say that this game falls into the former category. It’s beautifully designed and ready to give you that spooky classic horror feel. Though the characters are mostly faceless, you still get a taste of their personality through their design.
The musical soundtrack also gets onto the great scale. It’s the kind of eerie, and slightly 80’s synth wave that fits so well with pixel games. The colours, characters and scenes blend with the music and set a delightfully macabre stage for shenanigans. There is something I would love to tell the artist though… and that is that they had NO RIGHT in making Officer Dooley’s pixels THAT thicc!
Jokes and banter aside, The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark was so fun and an absolute joy to play. Some people don’t find point and click adventures all that engaging. Yet by closing yourself off to gameplay types such as this, you may find yourselves missing out on great gems like this game. The ultimate marker for an enjoyable game in my mind is one that makes you FEEL something positive. The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark made me laugh and smile enough to be feeling the repercussions in my muscles for a good week. It’s not a game that you need to spend hours slaving away at too. You can put it down and pick it up whenever you feel like. Take your time with it or speed through it, the pace is up to you. There is plenty of story and mystery to be had in each case, packed into around 10 hours of good gameplay.
- Comedic moments that would make even the grumpiest of persons chuckle.
- Well-balanced satirical writing.
- Simple gameplay suitable for all levels of gamer.
- It's perfectly playable without having played the first game.
- Easy to get stuck on a simple task
The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark is a ridiculous and funny point and click adventure that anyone can enjoy. The style of gameplay is simple, allowing you to enjoy the art, music and especially the writing even more. It will feed you that good mix of absurd and self-aware comedy that you didn’t even know you were hungry for. I really do encourage you to give it a go, especially if you’re on the fence about point and click adventures in general. It’s a game that doesn’t need a triple-A status or heavy content to be fantastic. Just a few sentient pixels, great writing and some paranormal cases to solve.