The great portening continues at strong pace. Many games are being tugged into Switch harbour at the moment, which is nice as it shows that devs are starting to see it less as Nintendo’s latest children’s toy and more the superb system it is. This time it’s Spooky Doorway’s The Darkside Detective – previously released on PC, Mac and, Linux in summer 2017 – a point and click adventure game that takes cues from the LucasArts SCUMM games.
You take on the role of the Detective Francis McQueen, the Spooky Mulder of Twin Lakes Police Department, ably assisted by Officer Dooley – who’s trying to bring down the system from the inside. Together they are the supernatural sleuths of the Darkside Department at TLPD.
The game is broken down into 6 pun-tastic chapters, or cases (I’m told by the dev that the Switch will be getting the bonus 7th chapter as a free update shortly so there’s a little more to look forward to) that will probably take around an hour each, on average. McQueen and Dooley bumble through such occult shenanigans as finding a child lost in another plane of existence, investigating a haunting at the library, a zombie invasion, and more.
Throughout the game you’ll find references to a number of other point & click games including Monkey Island 2, Full Throttle, Maniac Mansion, Simon the Sorcerer, and Discworld, so if you’re old like me, or just had a good education in these types of games, it’s quite the nostalgia fest. That’s not to say that the game doesn’t do its own humour very well. There’s plenty of bits that raised a smile as I went through, for instance, there’s a lot of interesting titles to borrow at the library, the darkside inhabitants have an interesting perspective on existence, and there’s a purple tentacle in a very convenient place, like, super convenient. I think that tentacle and I could be good friends. Really, good friends. How come I never find a tentacle that wriggly and moist in my bathroom? *slaps self* (“keep it together woman!”). Ahem.
When playing in TV mode, the left stick moves the cursor quickly over larger areas, the right is for more precise movement, and both sticks will move at high speed, though personally, I found even moving both sticks was a little slow for my liking. Other than that there’s just the A or B button to click. When switching to handheld mode, you can use the touch screen, which makes the whole thing a lot quicker. There’s no character movement to worry about as you can click on anything on screen to activate it, with key items and exits highlighted as you move over them.
Graphically it’s big chunky pixels, but still very easy to distinguish objects. The characters and backgrounds look very good and lighting effects add a lot the atmosphere. The music is very good, suitably atmospheric fare, as is to be expected from Ben Prunty of FTL: Faster Than Light fame. Definitely worth checking out the soundtrack, which is available on Bandcamp.
Overall the game is a lot of fun but kind of short for £10. Perhaps it needed maybe one or two more cases to make it worth that. Therefore I’m knocking a few points off of the final score.
Short for the price
Control is a bit slow.
Final Score: 7/10
The Darkside Detective is out now on Switch, PC, Mac, & Linux. Available from the Switch eShop, Steam, GOG, Humble Store.