Somewhere in the heart of New York City, a cursed bloodline roams the darkened streets. A shattered man silently prowls, hunting down rival Mafia mobs as its host struggles to reclaim the fame he lost. Yet even as he surrounds himself with glory, nothing can fill the void that cut through him. A faded photograph sets on a shaky table decorated with withered rose pedals and a flickering candle. The woman’s smiling face pierces him as the voice of the Darkness mocks him, reminding him of the hell he is damned to live in.
The Darkness first slithered onto store shelves back in 2007. As a mediocre shooter, its presentation and atmosphere were greatly unappreciated but The Darkness has resurfaced again. Its ugly heads sprouting from its new sequel upon which I must warn now…Spoilers of the first game will be included. So if you have not yet played it, go out, get it, beat it in a Saturday, and then come back to read about The Darkness II. It will be the best seven dollars you will ever spend.
Two years have passed; Jackie (Brian Bloom) lived through the ordeal of the first but is still brooding over Jenny’s death. He has taken over as the Don of the Franchetti crime family in an attempt to move on with his life. He has learned how to contain the Darkness (voiced by glorious Mike Patton) still thriving within his veins. Despite being capable of boarding it up, the beast begins to long for freedom and on a fateful night after a hit, it gets its wish. Hell breaks loose (literally) as Jackie tries to regain control of the Darkness before an ancient organization steals it from him for their own personal gain. All while still suffering from haunting images of Jenny manifested by the Darkness itself to torment its host, on top of living in a questionable reality.
The game series has become a warped alternate universe to the comic series. While much of the darker elements regarding Jackie’s life have been left out, the events that occurred early during his reign as the Darkness host remain fairly close to the comic series. Just with changes in the chronological order of the events. The events of the second game were originally the beginning of comic series with Jenny’s death happening afterward. However, with the games, these events have been flipped but Paul Jenkins (one of the writers for the comic series) has been a fantastic job at crossing over the mix-matched moments.
Much like the first game, The Darkness II takes pride in its presentation and execution of its story telling. The gritty, realistic look of the first game has been replaced with a gorgeous ce-shaded appearance helping to captivate the comic book-like feel. Environments remain dark for atmosphere but are also lush and colorful; something we do not see in more modern games. Animations are as smoother as butter, making waving your Darkness tentacles around and jumping to any of your three firearms before impaling an enemy with a lead pipe flawless. The gameplay has been greatly improved with the controls feeling more fluent over its clunky predecessor. Attacks are much more gruesome this time around as well with more brutal executions to pull off. You now are scored on the creativity of your kills and are rewarded “dark essence” which is used to upgrade yourself on a talent tree. Abilities can be unlocked this way, like the good ol’ black hole and a few new techniques to better improve the Darkness’ capabilities against enemies.