The Darkness II follows up the original game and according to my wonderful friend Wikipedia the game takes place two years after the first game. I haven't played the first game, which came out in 2007, nor do I know much about it, so expect these impressions to be comparison free. The fairly large demo, which came out on Xbox Live a couple days ago, starts you out in a room with your hands being nailed to a cross. There is a device of some kind that is drawing the darkness out of you and there is a creepy hobbling man taunting you at every turn. The graphics are pretty decent, definitely upper scale but the way characters are designed doesn't look particularly current gen. After the whole torture scene it jumps back to a memory of where you were first attacked inside a restaurant. You play a man named Jackie who is a gangster of some kind. The restaurant erupts in violence all of a sudden and you get dragged out by a friend while you gun down a bunch of a well armed unidentified enemies. When it looks like you are about to die from an explosion inside a kitchen then the monster inside of you takes over. When you awake you have two tentacles coming out from your left and right side, tentacles that you control. When you are just shooting people the game feels like just some shooter, like Bodycount or Black but once you start using your inhuman powers then it get's a bit more interesting and a hell of a lot more violent.
The two tentacles you control can be used to smack enemies around, pick up objects and hurl them at, or through, enemies, grab wounded enemies and toss them into the air or perform special execution moves like the one seen above. On top of all the very strong and deadly tentacles arms you still can use guns. Throughout the demo you get some basic ones like a pistol, sub machine gun (Uzi) and a shotgun. You can dual wield weapons but it seems to be much more useful to be able to actually aim. They manage all this at the same time by using a majority of the buttons on the Xbox360 controller, creating an efficient and easy to use setup. You get a skill tree that adds new abilities or modifies aspects of gameplay, like making guns do more damage or making executions restore health to you. The first one you get and the most basic skill is one that allows you to eat the hearts of enemies, which restores your health a little bit. Here is a fairly low resolution screenshot of what the skill tree looks like.
One of the enjoyable things about this game, other than ripping out the hearts of your enemies or impaling them with pipes, is getting essence. Essence is what you unlock new skills and it can be gained various ways. The most basic way if getting it is through combat. When you headshot people you get thirty essence, execute them will also get you thirty essence and simple acts like beating them to death or riddling them with bullets will earn you small amounts of essence, generally between 10-20. You also can earn large chunks of essence by finding secret ritual items that are hidden throughout every level. In the demo I managed to find two of these items and they each earned me three hundred essence each. There are a whole ton of abilities to earn and some of them sound rather delightful, that is if you already don't mind the excessive amount of gore, because most of the new abilities are just violent new ways to destroy enemies. Quite a few of the abilites also involve your minion, which is basically a demonic monkey that jumps around and hinders enemy long enough for you to finish them. If you don't have a Xbox 360 and feel like watching the demo then check out this first part of the demo, uploaded by theRadBrad.
The demo came out on Xbox Live on January 17th and it will be arriving on the Playstation Network and Steam on January 24th. The game will come out on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC on February 7th. The demo was a bit of fun but unless the whole game turns out to be some beautifully crafted gorefest then I will probably pass this one on by. It should appeal to those who love the kind of combat system that allows you to destroy enemies in many ways, but the story looks like it's just going to be about Jackie embracing the darkness to destroy the enemies who ruined his life. Thanks for reading and if you want anymore information head on over to their main website, which is full of videos, screenshots, FAQ's and more.
Main Website: http://www.embracethedarkness.com/us/
Steam Page: http://store.steampowered.com/app/67370/
-Written by Sean Cargle