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Kyle Blooicide

Reviewed By:

Review Date:

17/04/21, 18:44

The Darkside Detective: A Fumble In The Dark Review

Spooky Doorway has returned with the second season of their comedic and spooky detective series, The Darkside Detective. This new series titled, A Fumble In The Dark takes place directly after the events of the first season, promising to answer some of the questions that fans had after the credits rolled. The first season was enjoyed by the majority of fans for its comedic wit and its smartly conjured puzzles, leaving the second series with one heck of an order in being able to live up to the reception of the first. For those unfamiliar with this series, you can jump into the second game blind, as to be honest it isn’t too hard to catch up, but you will miss some of the fun little cameos and easter eggs this game has to offer, which is half of the charm. But the question stands, does the second series live up to the hype of the first, or does it fall short of the charm of the first game. Read our review below to find out.

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Gameplay: Improving The Formula To Near Perfection

"Once again players take control of Francis McQueen, The Detective who is tasked with resolving the spooky and paranormal crimes of America"

The gameplay of The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark is simple, exactly as it was in the first game, you click around on the screen to give the detective “commands”. You can pick items up, combine items, talk to people, bribe people, trade items for soviet tech… wait, what?... and so much more! It’s no different to the countless other ‘Point and Click’ games that are available out there today. So, in terms of how this game plays, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Why the big score then? This is because developer Spooky Doorway has put A LOT of thought into the interactions that occur in this game. Clicking on things that seem completely irrelevant, normally brings out some of the most comedic moments from this game, and it’s this approach to surprise comedy that makes this game stand out so much more than the previous entry. I found myself genuinely laughing out loud, as opposed to just small smiles that I normally do when I see a funny moment in other games.

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Once again players take control of Francis McQueen, The Detective who is tasked with resolving the spooky and paranormal crimes of America, except this time players will also go over-seas for investigations too! I’ll talk more about this in the Story segment of this review. All 6 of the cases that you go through in A Fumble in the Dark feel genuinely unique and offers a completely different experience, which was one of my gripes in the first game. It’s a hard thing to explain, so let me do this through an example. In the first case, after you get so far into it, a world map is opened up, players are expected to navigate across 6 full-sized different areas! Whereas in Case 3, players are put into an area that follows a similar format of ‘closed-off areas’ as the first game. But what’s really cool, is that developer Spooky Doorway genuinely focuses on including the player into the origins of how each case starts. Players will be thrown into an introduction which will give you 2 to 3 different small areas, with their own puzzles to get you to the ‘main’ area. This is a much more refined way to bring you into the game and beats the text-based introductions that we got in season 1. All 6 chapters have these awesome introductions! I won't talk too much more about this, as this is a game best when experienced with surprise.


The only area where I feel that The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark feels like it could find improvement is in one tiny area, and that’s in its animations. In each of the gameplay areas, none of the characters will move around. It’s kind of become a thing that is unique to this game series, however, it takes away a little bit of that ‘bustling life’ from the game. I quite like seeing my character move around as I click on things, and interact. It just ties up everything and brings it all to life. I’m not suggesting that The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark lacks life, as this is something that has been portrayed well in fact. I’m simply suggesting that this feature could improve on it.

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Graphics: The Masterclass of Modern and Retro

"The world is created in a retro 32-bit / 64-bit pixelated style, much aligned to the style of graphics that you would find in old LucasArts point and click adventure games"

Spooky Doorway once again has used the same visual styling that we saw in The Darkside Detective Season 1. The world is created in a retro 32-bit / 64-bit pixellated style, much aligned to the style of graphics that you would find in old LucasArts point and click adventure games. However, using modern technology and masterfully designed pixel art, the game looks modern and almost cartoonish to some degree. These beautiful visuals are complemented with a vibrant and rich colour palette, which unifies the overall look. This visual mix makes the world pop in The Darkside Detective, which is a “mistake” that a lot of other developers make when creating games of this genre. Its extremely clear that the artistic leads for this game have an understanding of their source material, the inspirations of this game, and the concept of modernising those retro elements.

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However, what does A Fumble in the Dark do differently from season one? The simple answer is, not much. In terms of raw visuals, if you moved from season 1 to season 2, you wouldn’t notice any obvious difference, It’s quite a seamless transition in fact. However, there is one key thing worth pointing out, in which season 2 makes a tiny adjustment. You’ll notice that in this season there are a lot more moments where the story is told with visuals. Whether this is simply Dooley and the Detective peering over a hill looking at a nearby creepy castle, or the creepy face of a clown being zoomed into as you pull up to your next (and most creepy) investigation. It’s a nice touch that aligns with the added gameplay of ‘introductions’ that I mentioned earlier in the review. Overall the game still looks great, and it didn’t really need any additional make-up adding to it, to make it a successful game. Although, I think as with any game, there is room for improvements to just fine-tune those visuals to perfection.

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Audio: A Soundtrack Worth Adding To Spotify

"Music helps us feel and understand the tone of what is going on, and if you can get someone to memorise even just one song from your game, it helps them reflect on it more"

One thing you’ll always notice from my reviews is that I always talk about having a memorable soundtrack. The reason for this is because in my best gaming memories there’s always a great soundtrack to go with it. Music helps us feel and understand the tone of what is going on, and if you can get someone to memorise even just one song from your game, it helps them reflect on it more. For me, The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark hits this perfectly. It has an amazing soundtrack, which enhances and enriches each of its 6 chapters. I mean, I implore you to jump onto something like Spotify and listen to the song ‘Call to Misadventure’ from the soundtrack – it’s a fantastic tune, that tells you everything you need to know about the game before you’ve ever played it. I assure you, this isn’t a cheap sale to plug the soundtrack, I genuinely love this soundtrack, it’s incredible. In summary, A Fumble in the Dark hits all the right points with its soundtrack. It represents the game well, it is genuinely a fantastic soundtrack to listen to and it’s masterfully constructed.

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In terms of sound effects, the game uses some very clear cues that inform you that something has happened. Usually, you’ll get a very sharp ring when you’ve done something or acquired an item. It’s minimal which is important, as it allows the soundtrack to be the star of each chapter. The one thing I think could cause some disappointment to players is the lack of voice acting – I mean the game is fully aware of this, and even jokes about it at one point in the game, stating that “without voice acting, its hard to show sarcasm”. However, it’s typical for games like this to feature fully voiced tracks, and I would suggest that this could be one of the games biggest weaknesses. As a fan of reading this never really was an issue for me, but I understand how this could be a deal-breaker for people who are not a fan of reading, or even to those with neurodiversity related constraints which makes reading an activity that does not keep their attention.  I think even if there was a screen-reader for accessibility reasons for this game, that could help a lot as a starting point.

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Story: Smashing All The Right Tones

"Detective Francis McQueen and his trusty sidekick Officer Dooley end up in all sorts of paranormal predicaments, in which only their wits and intelligence will save them"

The Darkside Detective is a story-driven comedic game about a detective who investigates all sorts of crazy and spooky events. Detective Francis McQueen and his trusty sidekick Officer Dooley end up in all sorts of paranormal predicaments, in which only their wits and intelligence will save them. However, the star of this show is Officer Dooley, who has a unique outlook on life and to be honest probably has un-awarely committed more crime than any of the rest of the games cast. It’s the relationship between these two characters that makes this game as incredible as it is, both bouncing off of each other coming up with some of the best comedy moments I’ve ever seen in gaming. That’s not all - The side characters of this game are equally as good, with both the detective and Dooley retorting and reacting to their actions as much as each other. We see a lot of the cast from the first game return for this one, as well as the introductions of new characters who are equally as charming and as funny as the original ones.

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As far as point and click adventures go I can’t fault the story of The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark. Every single angle that the first game fell short of, in terms of story, A Fumble in the Dark improves on. I feel like, for this season, the developers were able to use the first season as a benchmark to improve and build up from. The most obvious change is in the way that it aligns all of its cases together. In the first game, the cases all felt very disjointed and all the factors that linked them together were quite weak. You never really got to understand what happened between these cases, how did the detective get from the last case to the next. It just felt like you were jumping from one event to the next in an unspecified amount of time. Spooky Doorway has thought about this for A Fumble in the Dark, introducing segments that tie each case together. At the end of one case, there will be some reference which leads to the introduction of the next case. However, there is one case that doesn’t follow this pattern, but that is because the game wants to surprise players with what's next, not to spoil anything but when you play it – wrestling. That’s all I need to say.

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Review Summary:

Fantastic

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Gameplay: Improving The Formula To Near Perfection

Graphics: The Masterclass of Modern and Retro

Audio: A Soundtrack Worth Adding To Spotify

Story: Smashing All The Right Tones

The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark is a fantastic new entry to the series, which elevates it beyond where it left off. The humour is as comical as ever, the soundtrack is more refined and the story has been improved beyond what I ever expected. In fact, when Season 2 was announced I was excited just to get more or the same as the first season. The fact that this has been further improved for this entry is simply amazing. With the game being released on consoles, I am excited to see more people being able to experience this epic title.


The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark is one of the best Point and Click games we’ve had the pleasure of playing, period. Gamers who love the old 90’s era adventure games are going to feel right at home with this title. As a result, we are awarding this game with our first ever ‘3Bit Must Play Award’. This accolade is only awarded to those games that we think stand out from the crowd and are an absolute must-play for all gamers! Congratulations Spooky Doorway on releasing the first game this year for our Must Play Awards!

Pros:

  • Improves On An Already Great Game


  • Fantastic & Memorable Music


  • Whitty & Comedic


  • Dooley! 

Cons:

  • No Voice Acting


  • Could Do With More Fun Visuals

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