Editor's note: I don't understand all the flak that Dark Void has taken in the press. I thought it was a pretty good game. Mark does, too, and after avoiding it for several weeks due to bad press, the title has him reevaluating whether or not he should place his sole faith in game reviews. -James
I learned an important lesson this weekend. It is a lesson that I sadly should have already known, but I guess I never truly grasped the true concept of it: My opinion on video games should matter more to me than someone else’s.
First and foremost, we’ll set the scene: I’m a huge fan of Capcom. Mega Man is, to this day, one of my favorite series, and it was one of the games that actually got me in to the hobby in the first place. As I’ve aged and my opinion on video games has matured in to what it is today, Capcom has always been the company that I've given more leeway than any other. The reason I've done so, with the exception of a couple games, is because they have introduced and published mostly quality titles.
When Capcom announced Dark Void, I was extremely excited. Aerial combat with a jet-pack, the ability to climb and shoot from cover at the same time, Tesla making your weapons, and a crazy story involving the Bermuda Triangle during World War II? Sign me up!
After the typical media blackout I put myself prior to the release of a game, January finally came, and the game arrived. Unfortunately, the week it came out was also the same week I came into some difficulties with money — I love you, student loans — and I was unable to purchase the game. Then I made my first crucial mistake: I read a review. Where I read the review, I don’t remember, but critiques like “unplayable” and “a good idea done horribly wrong” resounded. Suddenly, I was reading every review I could find on the subject and most, if not all, echoed the same sentiment: Dark Void is decent at best.
The emotion I felt was probably akin to someone telling your ten-year-old self that your favorite Ninja Turtle is a “doody head." That kind of criticism sows the seed of doubt in your mind, and it cultivates the idea within your mind that maybe, just maybe, you have bad taste.
Ok, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration of how I felt, but needless to say when I finally did get some cash, I never bought Dark Void.
As money have become more scarce, I’ve acted under two guiding principles: I’m no longer allowed to trade games in (by time you finish the game, the money you get isn't worth it), and I can not purchase a new game until I’ve beaten the last one I bought. I’m proud to say that these two rules have helped me save a considerable amount of money. I've vanquished Darksiders, Bioshock 2, and even Dante’s Inferno all in due time.
Fast forward to earlier this week. Because my copy of Borderlands is AWOL (apparently my brother thinks I'm a Blockbuster store), I can’t dive into the new downloadable content and give it a shot. I found myself at a loss for entertainment and ended up at my local rental store perusing the available titles. At first I passed over Dark Void in the hope that something more appealing would present itself. It soon became apparent to me that wasn't going to happen, and nervously I picked up the box, paid my dues, and went home. Deep down in my mind, somewhere in the sub-basement area where bunnies like to frolic, I wondered if I had just made a terrible mistake.
Throughout the game I wondered if I was crazy: I was enjoying Dark Void! I beat it in one sitting, which is something I haven't done in a very long time. With the exception of a couple of minor flaws, I really couldn't find to much wrong with it.
A few of the control choices were odd, but when I flew around in a few of the aerial vehicles and died, I never felt like it was the game’s fault. The controls mimic the difficulty a real person would probably have jumping into a jet-pack or a UFO for the first time. In fact, I thought it peculiar that the biplane was the easiest to control until I realized that it was something I'd flown in other games.
The world of Dark Void is beautiful and has lots of promise.
To this day, it still amazes me that people expect something completely new and exciting in order to qualify it as a “good” game. People heralded the original Bioshock as the culmination of story in a video game, but the only unique idea it had was it told its story.
Dark Void is the same idea: The concept has been done a million times over. But players should not overlook how it tells its story, and the characters and concepts that it introduces over its underlying theme.
Should it be a candidate for 2010's game of the year? No, I don’t think it should. But it introduces some great ideas and and capitalizes on them. If Airtight learns from its few mistakes, I could see a sequel to this game being amazing (similar to Assassin's Creed 2).
The moral of this story is that if you’re excited for a game you should give it a chance. While I’m glad I only rented Dark Void (as it’s a tad bit on the short side), I certainly regret not playing it sooner. You can listen to and respect those who deem themselves “educated members of the gaming community,” but remember: always put your own opinions and ideas first and foremost.