Darkout is an upcoming title in a relatively new, and potentially untapped, genre. At a lack of official title, I'm going to go ahead and call it an RGAACG, or Randomly Generating Action-Adventure Crafting Game. Actually, no I'm not. If you've ever played or heard of Terraria, then you'll know, almost exactly, what Darkout has to offer. There's more here than a simple clone, however, and the sense of originality begins in the beautiful setting.
After crash landing on a mysterious planet, you, the pilot and lone survivor, must make the most of your surroundings and build, craft and create to aid your survival. Each time you start a level the map is generated randomly but a simple, yet pleasing otherworldly art style ensures that each level is a visual treat. Glowing plants illuminate the grassy hills and vibrant trees, while acidic lakes bubble and spit over murderous jellyfish. It's one of those classic beautiful but deadly environments and compared to the blocky style of Terraria, it's is a joy to behold.
Of course, what makes the setting all the more important is the fact that it's the core of the game mechanics. Digging up minerals, chopping up wood, collecting tar and all the rest are crucial to crafting new items. While the initial materials will help you get your feet off the ground, you'll need to explore the random environment to find all the materials you need for your perfect base or new suit of armour. I've been playing the beta build for a few hours and the first thing to notice is the huge number of items available to craft. Weapons, armour, furniture, electricity and a whole lot more can all be created using the materials found within the environment.
The standard course of action upon starting a new game is to build a shelter; it's a seemingly simple process that can be tricky to learn at first, as the basic principles of the game will be unfamiliar to many players. Once you've got your house built and first power source up and running, you'll want to start digging down into the world. Here you'll encounter the first proper enemies of Darkout, as well as the reason for its title. While most enemies are pretty standard fair, such as goblins, wolves, monsters and the like, they're all dark creatures that must be beaten twice. Once to remove the dark element, and the second time to kill their physical state.
This dark and light contrast is a key element of Darkout. Those plants I mentioned earlier are one of the only main sources of natural light in the worlds. You'll need to create more light if you want to be able to see in your home or underground. While primitive methods such as fire can be useful to begin with, you'll need to set up a permanent lighting system. It takes a lot of crafting, as does just about every item of importance or size in this game, but an electric system can be produced to generate large amounts of light, amongst other things. The lighting effects, somewhat ironically I suppose, are absolutely stunning in the beta build of Darkout. There are subtle differences between natural, fire and electric lights that all combine to create a vibrant world. Definitely an interesting part of the game that you should look out for.
Even in this early beta the stage the game is looking good, and not just graphically. The crafting system requires a lot of time devotion, but in a world so alive, finding resources is a fun experience. Combat is a little on the clunky side, but it suits the purpose; although with the recent addition of boss enemies, perhaps indie devs Allgraf should look into some more diverse combat mechanics. There are also some slight niggles with control input and balancing, but nothing that can't be ironed out for full release.
With the promise of multiplayer in the future, as well as story elements, the game is going from strength to strength. The multiplayer segment will allegedly allow up to 50 players craft and battle within one game which sounds like great fun. There's a lot to like here, especially if you're fan of Minecraft or Terraria. The beautiful setting makes for a welcome change in this particular genre and the detailed mechanics mean you can spend a lot of time rummaging and building, a fun activity that should be made all the more enjoyable alongside friends. Darkout is currently in open beta stage and can be purchased through digital distribution sites. It's been greenlit on Steam so should be released in full in the near future. Keep an eye out for a full review when the final retail version is ready.