Justice Playthrough #73: The Dark by Eric Koziol

So, is this game clever or just lazy?

Page 37, Game 7: The Dark by Eric Koziol by Eric Koziol

Spoiler: it’s both!

In The Dark by Eric Koziol (look, man, there’s obviously a perfectly good “Author” field that you filled out; if you can’t be arsed to take your name out of the title, neither can I), you are a dungeon exterminator, looking to purge a local dungeon of its pests. Fairly standard stuff. But oh, noes! You have been stricken blind! And numb, I think! And stripped of your sense of smell!

Whatever. You’re going to have to defeat this dungeon entirely by sound cues. Good luck with that.

The adventure begins!

Controls are straightforward. Up arrow moves you one space forward, left and right pivot. If you cannot move forward, you will here a thudding sound indicating you just found the wall with your face.

If you hear a squelching sound, that is a monster violating your tender, tender flesh! Press A to wildly flail about with a weapon of some sort until you hear a death scream.

A pitched battle to the death

If you heard yourself getting injured, press H to pound some healing herbs. If you actually have any to munch on, you’ll hear a munching sound.

Too many wounds, and you shall hear the dark angel Wilhelm screaming of your death

Explore the dungeon, find the Big Evil. Defeat the Big Evil and you win!

I like and admire the way this is a full-fledged video game that is accessible to the vision-impaired. I appreciate the cheek behind going full “Fuck you” to any and all visual cues as part of the game. But the execution is much too basic for this oddball game to truly soar.

For instance, how do you represent health strictly through sound cues? Just sitting here all critic-like at my desk, I can think of a few ways. Perhaps a sound effect of your breathing getting more labored. Perhaps when you move, you could be stumbling a bit, or making little pain noises.

The Dark by Eric Koziol does none of this; if you have too many wounds, you die. Guess you’d best keep track out of how many hits you think you’ve taken.

How do you represent improved gear when you find it in the dungeon? Maybe improved armor could add some clanky noises when you move. Maybe a better weapon could make your attack noises sound swooshier. The Dark by Eric Koziol, again, does none of that; when you find something, you’ll get a sound effect hinting at what it was. Does it help you? Does it harm you? Pretty much impossible to say.

Phat lewt! Fuck yeah!

Are there subtle noises indicating there are monsters present? Or, possibly, even sneaking up on you? (I THINK there are at least a few wandering monsters; it feels like the most probable explanation for a few of my more random-seeming deaths.) Nope. There isn’t even a nasty monster GROWL to indicate it’s time to fight for your life; just the wet meat slapping noise of your ass getting kicked.

An audio-only dungeon crawler is an interesting concept. Unfortunately, The Dark by Erick Koziol represents an incredibly rudimentary execution of that concept, and that’s a shame. There’s clearly room for something special here.

Still, though I DID have fun playing the game, and I DID have fun beating it. I had to bust out some graph paper and find the walls one face-plant at a time, but I did it. I may not have known what the stuff I was picking up was or why I might want it, but I knew where to find it.

And I did indeed beat the game. Which did not produce any cool victory noises, just some “You won!” text. Which honestly feels like punking out a bit.

This is very clearly not the best possible version of this game. I had some fun with it anyway. Maybe you will, too.

But will it be as much fun as:

Page 40, Game 6: PIXEL SPACESHIPS (Shoot’em Ups) – HD by MedimonGames

“Go to the stars with your retro pixel spaceships!”

Everything about this sounds awesome and I’m going to play it immediately.