Darkside Detective is a 2017 indie point-and-click adventure game. It is known largely for its humor and references to movies, games, shows, and other media that people who like adventure games, The X-Files, mysteries, the supernatural, etc., would love. However, it also manages to have its own personality and style and does not just rely solely on those references. It has taken me a shamefully long time, but I finally got around to this gem, and I adored it.
Darkside Detective takes place in Twin Lakes – the references already starting – where you take over as Detective McQueen, who works for the Darkside Division. In Twin Lakes, there are a lot of mysterious happenings that largely seem to be connected to the fact that there is a Darkside version of Twin Lakes – An alternate, spooky reality that bleeds over into the game world at times. McQueen has a sidekick Officer Dooley who is a bit bumbling but also hilarious. The core of the game is broken down into 6 short cases with 3 bonus cases that unlock once you beat the main ones.
Gameplay is simple enough and standard for the genre. You move around various locations, pick up objects, interact with things, and work to solve the mysteries. The actual UI (user interface) of the game is made super simple. You don’t have commands, and your inventory is always open at the top. To move, you simply do so, and when you need to use inventory items, you just grab and place them with what they are meant to interact with. This is a lot more simplified than old-school point-and-clicks with the large menus and options like “look, pick up, talk, etc.” I tend to like this style because it makes gameplay flow much more easily, although it does lose a bit of that nostalgia.
The cases are fairly short, though they do get a bit longer after the first introductory case. They also each have their own personality and style, which really I like. So the second case is in a haunted library and has a lot of humor related to horror authors, and the mystery is around why the ghosts are there. Then you have the fifth case, which is freaking cute as heck, which involves you leading the, very much not boy scouts, Blood Wolves group to find Dooley. Its overarching theme is the scary camp vibes mixed with cryptozoology. Each case feels like it is really pulling from different things while not losing the overall threads that tie it together. It’s a rather cool way to add all these various references or emphasis on different things that people into the supernatural and the like will enjoy.
The art and music are solid. The art is pixel-style to give an old-school vibe, but much more updated and polished to keep it modern. There is also great use of colors and some really stand-out moments and backgrounds. The music is fantastic, and there is a great variety in the soundtrack. I could honestly play the game just to listen to it.
Where it suffers a bit is length and difficulty. I cannot believe I am going to say this, but this game might be a touch too easy? While the later cases do have more challenge and require a lot more experimenting and trying to find things, overall, the game is fairly straightforward and linear. This is kind of a mixed bag for me, though, because while I could say “too easy,” I could also argue the opposite. I liked not feeling overly stressed out because point-and-clicks can be hard, time-consuming, and confusing. It’s sometimes nice not to just be lost and frustrated. It’s also not so easy that there is no challenge or gets boring. There is some moon logic at play here, but because the game is so straightforward, you aren’t going to get overly lost or bogged down by it.
The length is also a mixed bag. The game is pretty short. Each case can be done relatively quickly, so the overall game will only take most people a handful of hours. However, the extra cases bulk it up, and there are extras in the form of achievements that can be missed the first time. The replayability is a bit light, though. Again, linear, so unless you just super enjoy it, once you’ve beaten it, it’s kind of done. That being said, after time to let things settle and forget about all the jokes and gags, it could be worthwhile to go back through again. As with the difficulty “issue,” I could also argue this as a pro, I like having games that aren’t super long epics. It’s nice to be able to pick a game up and just play a case quickly when I have the time, or even be able to finish a game in one sitting that doesn’t require a marathon. It also means that the game packs a lot of humor into the package.
Speaking of jokes, this game is hilarious. From again, all the references, such as Chief Scully and her talking about not being in the basement, to the original humor. There is some 4th wall breaking which point-and-clicks are kind of known for, Dooley has so many fantastic moments and lines, McQueen is full of groan-worthy puns (which I adore), and there are many delightful characters. The kids in the fifth case are just absolutely hilarious. It is also worth going around and clicking everything in this game and exhausting all the dialogue to find all the humor.
It also has a pretty interesting story outside of the humor. I liked the two dimensions, and while not always the most fleshed out story and mystery wise there are a lot of decent things happening with it.
So bottom line? I highly recommend this game to a variety of different types of gamers. If you like horror, the supernatural, the mystery genre, Twin Peaks, The X-Files, any and all things related to those types of media and interests, then you will likely delight in this game, even if point-and-clicks aren’t your favorite. It is so accessible gameplay wise that I can’t see the actual game part overruling all the great humor, references, and story. If you like point-and-clicks, it’s solid and one that will be lighter for genre fans. If you are new to the genre or want to try it out, this is a great game because, again so accessible and much easier and less confusing than some of the genre can be. I just really can’t say enough good things about it. Even my few complaints are completely washed out with just how fun this game is. I can’t wait to try out the sequel!