Dark Fall II: Lights Out

by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 60/100

Dark Fall II: Lights Out Review
Published by: The Adventure Company
Developed by: XXV Productions
Format Reviewed: PC
Review by: Wencke Schuncken

Dark Fall II: Lights Out is about you playing as a cartographer in 1912, England. You're commissioned, under mysterious circumstances, to do mapping in a Cornish seaside town noted for its ill-fated lighthouse. In a small village called Trewarthan your journey starts to find the spooky lighthouse which suddenly stopped spreading light and caused many accidents on sea. Ships had no coordination points and were smashed against the coast rocks and the lighthouse claimed many lives. Step by step, by finding objects and sollving puzzles, you will find out more and more about the village and the lighthouse secrets.

The installation of the game is pretty quick and before you know it you're already in the game wondering what to do. It all starts with a nightmare, Parker's nightmare. Images of drawings, pictures, maps, rooms, a storm and of course the lighthouse flashes on the screen. Suddenly somebody is knocking on the door which awakes you from your horrible nightmare. You get out of bed and open the door. Strange, there's nobody there…very strange. This introduction combined with some very creepy sounds gives you a uncomfortable feeling. Comparable with playing Silent Hill games.

Dark Fall is a old style point & click adventure game. The PC mouse will lead you through the game as this is the main controller. The environment is made like a photo album. Whenever you click on something you'll be directed to another "picture" with many hidden secrets. You need to check every picture by scrolling over the screen. If the cursor changes into a tool or a magnifying glass you know something is there. Click, click, click and the screen will show you a closer look to objects or you can walk in the direction you clicked to.

Let's give an example: You are standing in a house and watch a desk at the end of a room. First you need to click to get in front of the desk. On the desk you see a picture frame and a book. If you move your cursor over the picture frame, the cursor changes to a magnifying glass. Now you've got to click and the screen zooms in which results in a clearer view of the picture and you'll get some letter which provides some background information of that person on the picture. Do the same with the book and it will reveal its secrets. It's very important to find and check the hidden secrets. You'll get some objects which are useful in quests and to move on. The game looks like a very artistic photo album and every move you make will change the picture and your hunt for the hidden objects can begin. As this is a clicking game and you need to scroll over the complete screen to find all items, it's not suited for gamers who suffer a RSI disease.

Like I already stated it's a very artistic styled game. The environment fits with the game and it really gives you a dark spooky feeling. Especially in the beginning of the game you'll be "walking" in the fishermen village which has a lot of fog and dark streets. Doors are half open and you explore buildings to find clues of what is going on, what has happened and what's going to happen… Moving through the game is like turning pages in a picture album. Note, it's very important to check the complete screen and find the hidden objects before you move on to another picture. Otherwise you aren't able to make progress in the game, or need to return to all pictures to find clues you're missing. Well, it's quite strange when you play this game for the first time and you want to explore the village. To leave the village, you'll need to find all items before you can move on. Of course I couldn't leave the place as I didn't found all of the objects needed. Quite frustrating as I needed to go back and check every picture/screen again. The searching really slows down the game play as it takes a long time to find and look at the objects. But a positive aspect is the loading of levels. There is no loading of levels! The pictures follow up in a smooth way and no loading is just terrific.

Characters are very rare in this game. You'll hardly meet one in the game. Mostly all information about characters is done on paper (books, diaries, letters, notes, pictures). But if you find a character you'll see that it is perfectly created. Nicely done! I've met Doctor Demarion, but only could see his face. Very impressive. This person tells you the history of the lighthouse, build in 1890. Also he mentioned the SOS call from a ship "Ribos" that they didn't see any light from the lighthouse. Strange as there are 3 employees to take care after the lighthouse… After playing for a while, you're in the year 2004. The lighthouse and the village have become a tourist attraction. The graphics used have more color and not so creepy styled as in the beginning. This is due to the fact that the horrible events are over and now it's a more pleasurable environment to spend your time.

Music? The musical activities are rare in this game. There is no title song or background music. The producers focused on the sound effects to improve the games' atmosphere. Expect to hear the knocking on doors, voices whispering, footsteps on the stairs, the wind blowing in the narrow streets and so on. It's a relatively quiet game and as there aren't many characters in the game, there are hardly any dialogues.

After playing the game for a couple of hours I guess the game is suitable for gamers who have a lot of patience because the searching for secrets will take most of your game time. Also the reading of the diaries and books takes up a lot of time to find out more clues about characters or historical information. The direction taken also changes the view, if you turn back on a street you'll get another view and perhaps you'll find items which are required to make progress in the game. The puzzles are quite easy to solve IF you have found the clues and objects needed. Yes the hardest part of this game is to find these hidden items. You'll spend a lot of time just screening the screen to find them. The game provides a fascinating atmosphere. Especially in the beginning it looks like a real dark game breathing out depressions but it causes a thrill to keep on moving, playing and to research everything to reveal the secrets of the light house.