The Darkness II
The Darkness had multiplayer, but it was superfluous and few took the time to check it out. The original game was all about the singular experience of Jackie Estacado as he came to grips with The Darkness, the death of his girlfriend, and a million other terrible things happening to him all at once. To throw in a mode that tasked players with murdering others infected with the dark powers seemed odd and out of place. Digital Extremes realizes the multiplayer misstep of the first game, but doesn’t want to discount players who are interested in shooting guns with dark powers while in the company of others. Vendettas brings cooperative multiplayer to The Darkness in a way that makes narrative sense.
In Vendettas, players are able to play through an entirely separate cooperative campaign that goes alongside the single player experience. There are four characters to choose from, each with unique abilities and back stories explaining what has led them to work with Estacado as they fight against the evil Brotherhood. We spoke to Seth Olshfski, a producer at 2K working with Digital Extremes on the Darkness 2, about the inclusion of co-op. “The narrative co-op experience of Vendettas came out of early pre-production where one of our core pillars was that everything we do is going to be in service of story,” said Olshfski. “Narrative co-op was something that naturally fell out of that as another way to make the world more rich.”
Players can tackle the co-op game with up to three other players online. Otherwise, in an unusual design, you can play through it completely alone, without even any AI buddies to watch your back. The banter shared among the four selectable players will change depending on who you choose, but the main story will remain consistent, no matter whom you are or are not playing with. The new characters have been created exclusively for the game, and are not characters that have already appeared in the Top Cow-published comic. When asked if these characters would appear in future Darkness comics, Olshfski replied, “We have a really good relationship with Top Cow.”
The new characters don’t have the same powers as Jackie, but they are able to take advantage of Darkness-infused artifacts. Inugami wields the powerful Kusanagi sword. The sword itself has an impressive back story; having supposedly been used to kill ten thousand innocents, the deadly blade demands more victims or it will kill its user. Inugami can also summon a swarm of miniature demons to immobilize his enemies.
Olshfski also shared a little about the other three multiplayer characters with us. Shoshanna is an agent for Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Agency. She uses the Arm of Night, and a Darkness-infused gun that looks like it originally belonged to a pirate. J.P. DuMond uses a weapon called the Midnight Stick, and can create fatal vortexes using his Box of Tricks. DuMond created his Box of Tricks by filling a literal box with dark magic that he came across while healing patients as a doctor using voodoo powers. Jimmy Wilson is an alcoholic from Glasgow, Scotland. He doesn't remember how he came upon his weapon, the Dark Axe. He is also able to summon Darklings that he calls Little Jimmies.
The co-op game takes a more comedic approach to storytelling, being called a “dark co-op comedy” by Olshfski. Both the Darkness and its sequel tell dark, emotionally disturbing stories, and the co-op game is being implemented to help offset the dreary tone of Jackie’s story. “What you need is moments of humor,” said Olshfski . “It's dark humor which works best for us. Those moments of humor – it’s like you're at a wine tasting and you eat the little crackers between the bits of wine. It just resets your palette.”
It’s not a new concept in storytelling. “Every Shakespeare tragedy has comedic players in it, because you've got to have moments of like, not the same emotion in order to make the emotion you're trying to convey continue to work through a long show. And this is a long, long show,” said Olshfski.
If you skip the co-op game, or even the single-player game, you will still be left with a rewarding experience. Both stories, though connected, have standalone narratives. There is a much richer story to be experienced by playing both games, and an even richer experience if you’ve played the first game, but it is by no means required. “The whole plot will make sense and be rewarding if you never played the first game,” Olshfsky told us. “The whole plot will make sense and be way more rewarding if you did.”
The Darkness 2 is set for release on February 7 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Click here to check out our original story about Vendattas.