Solving spooky cases the fun way

Aqilah Rahman

The premise of point-and-click games can usually be summed up as “click on things and solve puzzles”. These games are great for people who thrive on solving puzzles, but not so much for people like me who need more time to put two and two together, and would rather focus on the story.

Thankfully, The Darkside Detective is fairly straightforward with its puzzles, in addition to being a fun game.

In The Darkside Detective, you play as Detective McQueen, the lead investigator of the underfunded Darkside Division. Together with your sidekick Officer Dooley, you’ll be solving supernatural cases.

The game’s strengths are its dynamic cast and humour. McQueen does most of the work and is the unsung hero of the city, while Dooley is the goofy but likable sidekick with humourous one-liners and runs a conspiracy theories website.

There are also several well-known figures in the game, most notably Edgar Allen Poe and HP Lovecraft who keep arguing whose books are spookier.

A screenshot of ‘The Darkside Detective’. SPOOKY DOORWAY
A screenshot of ‘The Darkside Detective’

Available on PC, Mac, Linux and Nintendo Switch, this title is a fun, breezy game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with witty dialogue and a quirky cast to boot.

GAMEPLAY

Like many point-and-click games, you’ll be collecting items to use later on as you progress into the story. The inventory is manageable and the game makes it clear which item to use at what scene. You can also combine some items.

Overall, the gameplay is pretty simple and direct – talk to the townspeople, collect and examine objects and solve puzzles. There are nine cases altogether. Each case takes about an hour to solve and is long enough to be engaging without overstaying its welcome.

As expected from a game of this genre, there’s a lot of clicking on objects. Most of the time, this triggers a conversation between Detective McQueen and Officer Dooley, with humour sprinkled in. This makes the “click everything” aspect less of a task and more of an incentive to unlock the gags in the game.

While the game is generally simple and enjoyable, there’s one aspect that is hard to overlook – you can’t pick up some items unless you need them to move the story forward.

This leads to a fair amount of backtracking, which can be a bit of a hassle. However, the game somewhat offsets the backtracking issue by allowing the player to move between areas with a single click instead of having to manually go back and forth.

PROS AND CONS

The Darkside Detective is full of pop culture references and the game isn’t subtle about it. Right off the bat, the player is introduced to Chief Scully, who is most definitely not a reference to The X-Files  drama series.

There are also other obscure references, and I probably missed a good chunk of them. It’s a bit of a downer but it isn’t a dealbreaker for me. Most of the humour is based on puns so I still enjoyed the game a lot.

As for the graphics, the game description says “cutting edge, high definition pixels” but this is more of a self-deprecating joke instead of a serious claim.

The chunky pixels are definitely a stark contrast compared to, say, a game like Thimbleweed Park. I don’t mind the faceless characters and blocky graphics but some people may not like it. In short, it all boils down to personal preference.

In terms of difficulty, this isn’t a challenging game because it focusses more on the storyline and its characters. Puzzle fans may prefer something more challenging, but I’d encourage giving the game a shot just for its writing and humour.

CONCLUSION

The Darkside Detective is a charming game packed with puns and humour, perfect for a few hours of casual gaming on a weekend.

Given that the game is fairly expensive for just a few hours of gaming – USD12.99 on Nintendo eShop and Steam at the time of writing this – I’d recommend getting the game on sale. Plus, it’s a linear game so there isn’t much replay value.

The game has a sequel coming out soon called, unsurprisingly, The Darkside Detective Season 2 which will be available on Mac, PC, Linux and Nintendo Switch.