There’s not been a Twin Peaks video game yet. This is terrible news, but we can live vicariously through Indie titles like The Darkside Detective. Just like Agent Cooper and Sherriff Truman, we have a crack team of detective and law enforcer duo McQueen and Dooley, investigating various occult issues plaguing the public.
A highly stylised point and click adventure game, the game gives you a number of cases to crack, all centred around a supernatural event. Your job, as the ever endearing clumsy duo, is to clean up the mess essentially. Rid the locale of the ghouls and gremlins in whatever way you see fit.
One of my favourite things about The Darkside Detective is the length of each case. Adventure games are notorious for being long in the tooth, and it’s easy to get burnt out on their repetitive interfaces. The Darkside Detective remedies this with vignette-like case files to venture through that last about 30 minutes to an hour each depending on your ability.
Another genre cornerstone that it absolutely nails is that it’s very funny! The game is littered with self-referential humour, the new trend of nostalgic allusions to past adventure games and genuinely hilarious dialogue. There’s a reference in every scene but they don’t lack tact. The game has more nuance than that. It’s more Stranger Things than The Big Bang Theory if you catch my drift
The puzzles are also in that gorgeous sweet spot in between frustrating and overly gratifying. However, I did stumble at a few hurdles that required me to go and take a tea break and come back. Because the game is fractured into six small pockets of fun, that didn’t feel annoying really. I wanted to space it out and enjoy it as much as I could. Another thing I liked was the character development and story progression across the six cases. They’re not like episodes of South Park where characters befall sudden doom and return next week. This allows for a level of permanence to the narrative and adds to the engrossing charm of the duo, who are just as lovable as the characters they homage.
The music is another highlight. Composed by the extremely talented Ben Prunty of FTL fame, The Darkside Detective has some excellent miasmic tunes to sink into during your spooky investigatory adventure.
Whether you’re a fan or not, the game is another proponent of Pixel Art and for the sheer lack of pixels on the screen, you’ll be shocked at how wonderful and refined the environments are in this game. Whilst the main character never moves, the animations surrounding him are bountiful and always impressive.
The puzzles range from typical to absurd, from the usual ‘disguise creation from ridiculous materials’ which is pretty much a hallmark of any decent adventure game to plunging a tentacle from the human world cubicle to the ‘upside down’ to save patrons from a ghoul-infested train.
What I wasn’t expecting was mini side games to resolve a case. For example, clicking on a water pipe took me to a Bioshock-esque water pipe maintenance simulator which was a fun excursion from the main game. The side games usually incorporated the kind of fun, unobtrusive puzzle that you’d find in a Christmas Cracker, but they were none the less enjoyable and really hammered home that the devs were trying to add more to the typical adventure game experience, which is super duper welcome.
All in all, The Darkside Detective is a worthy addition to your Adventure Game library. A belly-laugh inducing romp paying homage to all of your favourite occult tv shows and movies, with enough content and puzzles to keep you hooked through its six-case series run.