Darkness Within: In Pursuit of Loath Nolder

by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 75/100

Darkness Within: In Pursuit of Loath Nolder Review
Published By: Lighthouse Interactive
Developed By: Zoetrope Interactive
Format Reviewed: PC
Reviewed By: Wencke Schuncken

It's getting cold, dark, foggy, and it’s making me feel uncomfortable on this November night. It's the time of the year that I don't want to go outside at all, but that's the perfect setting to install and play Darkness Within: In Pursuit of Loath Nolder, a chilling horror adventure inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. It's not the first time that his works are used in a videogame to create an interactive dark and frightening world. Many of you who own a gamecube probably remember Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem which is also based on H.P. Lovecraft's work. But although it's uncomfortable outside, can it become uncomfortable inside by playing this game?

In Darkness Within: In Pursuit of Loath Nolder, it's your task to track down a fugitive murder suspect for the murder of Clark Field, a wealthy man who got involved in the occult. Being a police detective, you already made a list of possible suspects and on top is Loath Nolder, a highly respected private investigator who mysteriously abandoned his last case for reasons unknown. Rumor had it that he ventured to several exotic places around the world. But it remains a great mystery as to why Loath Nolder suddenly disappeared, resurfacing five years later and resuming his investigations just as abruptly as he had left them. And wasn't Loath's last case not the investigation of Clark Field's murder? Strange, very strange indeed. I wonder what caused the change of venerated private investigator as he now sits on the other side of the law. As Howard E. Loreid, you must untangle a web of dire truths, delving deeper into the dark recesses of the human mind, in pursuit of Loath Nolder.

Darkness Within, is a 3D panoramic psychological horror adventure which is suitable for experienced as well as beginning game detectives thanks to a hint system is included in three difficulty categories; standard, detective and senior detective. Investigate the varied locations, starting at your apartment and later on Loath's, your office and Clark Field's spooky house, and many more locations you probably don’t even want to think about. These locations contain all kind of objects such as maps, a rope, cassettes, keys, a hook, a paintbrush and books. These are just a few of many important objects which are required to make progress. Of course you'll find a lot of items which aren't useful but contribute to the overall atmosphere or simply trying to trick your mind. Some books, notes and letters can be read and researched. The screens are sometimes puzzle screens where new clues can be obtained or may be read thoroughly to get information about the story. In some reading interfaces, an "underline" and a "think / combine" button can be used to underline important text (according to your knowledge and research capability) and may provide clues to solve the puzzle. Let's give an example without giving away a spoiler. A password is required to open an object which could be an organizer or a case. The password can be found partly by matching two clues found on separate documents combined with some detective knowledge.

With the hint system in place and adjusted on standard level, the clues can be easily detected. Not only will you learn about the character's history but also how to solve the varied puzzles. To increase the psycho proportion, besides investigating spooky houses and meeting weird characters, you're going to experience some strange and creepy nightmares. What we don't want to experience while being asleep, becomes reality on screen and it certainly can be scary as I already experienced in the first minutes of the game. The psycho, and to me creepy, feeling is perceptible all over the place. Would you go down into a well, located in the basement of a very spooky house? And why do I hear so many spooky sounds from the bottom of the well? As a police detective you must set your feelings aside and do what you have to do, even when you're afraid.

All the discovered and important objects / documents can be stored, combined and examined in your inventory. The inventory screen also includes a "thinking" screen where clues, notes and thoughts are displayed (and hints, depending on the difficulty level.) This is ideal as I cannot memorize all of the clues, and there’s no need to write everything down on a separate notepad. If you want to get a closer look at a map for example, it's possible to zoom-in and to get a 360 degrees view. Not that I used that one a lot, but the option is included. Some objects may have a special interface such as a cell phone or an organizer, and data can be entered. Mainly figures though, like when you want to make a phone call or consult the agenda.

From a female point of view, Darkness Within contains no female characters. This is strictly a men's world. The only feminine sign discovered was a drawing of a woman in a sketchbook and a witch cemetery. It's not strange that no female characters are participating as women in Lovecraft's fiction are rare or virtually non-existent. For female gamers that are fond of detective games and can stand a psycho adventure, it's definitely a game worth checking out!

After seen the movie "Carrie" as a child which scared the hell out of me at the end, I never wanted to see a psycho / horror movie again. Later on I safely staid on the good side and avoided the various horror related videogames. But as a reviewer you simply must play games (even if they're not "appropriate" for you) to give a serious feedback. And the result is quite surprising as I started to feel attracted to Darkness Within and it's psycho atmosphere, thanks to the spooky characters in varied locations combined with strange sounds. There certainly is a driven factor in this game and it’s recommend to take the time to play it. Each solved puzzle motivates to keep on exploring, digging up deep secrets and getting more involved in the story. Gaming hours will vanish as quickly as Howard E. Loreid’s days mysteriously pass instead of hours. The main question and objective is not to find out what happened to Loath Nolder, but if you’re capable to keep your mind straight in this psychological horror adventure?