At this year's San Diego Comic-Con, I was able to meet with the developers and PR team for the new videogame, The Darkness. This property comes from a Top Cow comic which debuted in 1996. This is the story of an anti-hero named Jackie Estacado, whose family is part of the mob. The Darkness is an ancient power which is passed from father to son--when the son turns 21, he inherits the power and the father dies. This power allows Jackie many abillities which help him in the world of violence in which he lives, and although sexual situations abound, he is careful not to procreate lest he doom himself if he has a son. As the title might suggest, Jackie's powers manifest in the darkness, and are connected to demonic-type minions who abhore the light.
The game is written by one of the writers of the comic, Paul Jenkins, and deals loosely with the Resurrection storyline as well as the events when Jackie first recieved his powers. For those of you familiar with the comic, the characters of Jenny, Paulie, and the Butcher are also present in the game.
The Darkness is, like it's Riddick cousin, primarily a FPS, although through the Darkness powers, you can control snake-like appendages and other minions to do your bidding. All of the light sources in the game are interactive, as it is often in your best interest to be able to muster the full effects of your power, of which can only be done in the dead of dark. And not only that, but many of the objects you come into contact with are also moveable and usable.
The game is being designed by the Swedish developer Starbreeze, and they are nearly two years into production with an anticipated release date in 2007. The game is based off an engine the company used for the critically acclaimed Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay, and the graphics are, like Riddick, gritty and life-like. The music goes from haunting orchestral pieces to driving industrial-metal, and all of the music was made in-house.
Since Sweden has a developing gaming industry, Starbreeze is a small company, around 50 people, and handles most of its production interiorily, without outsourcing. Starbreeze seems to be drawn toward darkly complex characters and storylines given their impressive debut and now their work on The Darkness. I was able to talk with Project Manager Patrick Liu, who said that Starbreeze was working to create a deep game with non-linear storytelling which was connected by hubs and quests for items. Lui said the game's strength comes from the compelling drama created by Paul Jenkins and it's immersive and gritty gameplay.
The staff has been on a tight deadline, but this title is currently over 50% completed. It will be released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 systems. Starbreeze is on the crest of the 2nd wave of next-gen gaming projects and is currently fully-booked with future projects. They are already in pre-production for their next, currently undisclosed title in conjunction with Vivendi Universal.
The deadline for completing The Darkness game may be related to a push for a movie tie-in (the rights were bought by Dimension films, which made The Crow, for a film to be released theoretically in 2007 as well). However, this was unconfirmed by the sources to whom I spoke. Regardless of that, The Darkness is a game you aren't going to want to miss.
For curt analysis of the new Darkness pics shown below, jump over to this news article