Set two years after the original The Darkness, players take on the role as Jackie Estacado, the leader of a mafia like crime gang. For a while now, Jackie has been able to contain the Darkness, but thanks to an attack from a new enemy the Darkness needs to be let back out protect Jackie and his family alike.
The story in The Darkness 2 is a deep and dark one that should satisfy fans of a decent story. While you’re hunting down the rival group who attacked you, looking for specific people and plotting revenge, most story moments come down to Jackie’s’ dead girlfriend, Jenny. Jenny (who had been killed in the first game) is being held by the Darkness and thus fuels Jackie’s motivational for the decisions he’ll make along the way. The relationship between them is best told in flashback sections that are created by the Darkness in order to fool Jackie, and to make him keep doing the Darkness’ bidding. The moments are really well done and cement the feelings that Jackie still has for his late girlfriend. Not to be outdone, the main plot-line is great also. A group of people are trying to extract the Darkness from Jackie and will stop at nothing as they see him unfit to control it. It works well and keeps the game moving. Overall, the story is very dark and well told. Jackie is a character you legitimately care about and want to see succeed.
The gameplay is The Darkness 2 is extremely fluid and very satisfying. Since Jackie has the Darkness at his side, he controls two snake like creatures that can grab, swipe, devour, behead and rip apart any enemy that gets in his way. As you can tell, they are great fun to control and they’re made better by the fact they can pick objects up and send them hurling towards your foes. Trust me, cutting people in half with air conditioning fans and impaling people to walls with pipes, never, ever gets old. Jackie can also dual wield guns such as sub machine guns and pistols, while carrying one main gun, such as shotguns and assault rifles. Throughout the game many weapons are made available and all are great to use. You might think that controlling all of this at once can seem a little overwhelming and confusing. Luckily, the controls in The Darkness 2 are perfect and never confuse you.
With the plethora of weapons at Jackie’s disposal, it’s a great idea to feature an upgrade system. Whenever you kill people you get points. More stylish the kill the more points or “essence” as it’s called. The essence you collect can be spent in a vast array of skills. You can upgrade your guns with more ammo, explosive ammo and faster reloads. Upgrade yourself to have armour, a stun attack and let the Darkness infuse with your weapon for extra damage. You can even upgrade the Darkness itself. Allowing for more executions, the ability to eat dead enemies hearts for health and allow sharp blades to grow from your appendages’ heads. The upgrade system is great and really helps you as you progress through the game. It’s so deep that you’ll definitely need more than one playthrough to upgrade all your skills.
The characters in The Darkness 2 are brought to life with great voice acting. Whether you are talking to mob henchmen or an insane man, the acting is terrific. The voice of the Darkness deserves a special mention as all throughout the game it is yelling at you in such a deep and demonic voice. The sound and effects are expertly done. Every bullet and the sound of body parts being ripped away all sound great and (what I imagine) what they would in real life. The sound really helps bring to life some of The Darkness‘ most setpieces. The Darkness 2 is filled with surprisingly great setpieces and moments. From riding on a ghost train at an abandoned carnival to being dragged through a restaurant shooting back at the thugs who are trying to take over. The writing is very good and even features a little of bit of humor, that is actually quite funny and very well appreciated.
The cartoon look of The Darkness 2 is pulled off really well. With great gore and visual effects the look of the game is great. The animations are also solid and are quite varied. The only downside is a little bit of stiffness in the character’s faces and a lot of reusing the same character models. But for the most part the gore and visuals are really nice. I never experienced any slow down or texture problems whilst playing The Darkness 2 and that’s quite impressive considering all the combat taking place. I experienced some small problems like sound disappearing for a bit and my gun turning invisible, but nothing major or game breaking.
The Darkness 2 is kind of a short ride. With a singleplayer mode that could be beaten within six hours, it’s nice to see some ways of inciting the player back in. When you’ve completed the game you can play through again in “New Game+”. You begin from the start of the game, but with all of your abilities and unlocks. Perfect for unlocking all of your unlockables, achievement hunting or the fun of playing an awesome game once more. The Darkness 2 also features a pretty interesting co-op mode. In this mode you control one of four Darkness infected henchman. The great thing about this mode is that it ties in with the story of single player as all of these characters are doing jobs for Jackie. Giving the co-op missions a tie in with the single player makes them more enjoyable and meaningful. Some are loosely referenced but some are plot points to the main game, such as kidnapping someone that Jackie asked for. The four characters available for this mode all feature their own skill trees and unique weapons, which adds a lot of replay value and overall enjoyment. The co-op is great fun and the integration of co-op and the main story is excellent.
Overall, The Darkness 2 (while short) is a great experience. It doesn’t dwell on either having fun gameplay or a serious story. It aims to have both and it has both. The gameplay is fun and fluid with a expansive skill set menu, couple that with the dark and serious story and you have the makings of a great game. With characters brought the life with great performances from the actors and the cartoon look of the game, the technical aspects are solid. If you’re a fan of good fun or a serious story or both, The Darkness 2 is very much worth a purchase.