Romans, Meet Rockets: Darkest Of Days

Shame about the awkward empty space on the left.

The completely brilliant/insane idea behind Darkest Of Days is getting to time travel through various famous conflicts from the past, and mow everyone down with a machine gun. You see, the problem with guns in the Olden Days is they were rubbish. Only capable of firing one shot at a time, or very poor at targeting at a long range, they were such a faff and fiddle that by the time you’d managed to poke the pokey thing down the barrel there was a reasonable chance you’d be entirely dead. What they should have done, and what Darkest Of Days finally puts right, is arrange for time travellers from the future to bring them semi-automatic instruments of enormous death. It’s both tasteful, and delicious.

Set to be released on September 8th, it’s coming from 8Monkey Labs, whose only previous game is something called AquaSpank. The publisher, Phantom EFX, is equally obscure, usually focusing on slot machine and casino games for the PC and mobiles. It also features jaunts in the Battle of Little Bighorn, as well as a romp in a volcano-encumbered Pompeii. I think it looks awesome. And there should be a demo along later today.

In the first video you can compare the difference between battling in the American Civil War with a one-shot musket, and a machine gun.

In this second one enquiring minds can learn the distinction between fighting in the Second World War with a Bolt-Action rifle, and something called a Combat Shotgun.

98 Comments

  1. Lack_26 says:

    Yey, I’ve been waiting for more information on this for ages.
    Is this the one with the multiplayer where you can pit Navy Seals against a German Rifle brigade and the game will try to balance the match.

  2. Gap Gen says:

    I think it’s easy to do this sort of asymmetry wrong – the machinegunning retreating soldiers in the back being one example where I agree it could be a little tasteless, and I’m not sure how well some of the differences between technology would work.

    The concept of intervening with history is an interesting one (possibly as an analogy for modern-day interventionism). It will be interesting to see what they do with the story. There’s a lot of scope for discussion there, assuming they don’t go all-out mindless comedy.

  3. Pod says:

    This looks terrible. The AI looks daft.

  4. sfury says:

    reminds me of this – link to en.wikipedia.org

    Goog memories indeed, but I refuse to set my hopes up high for that one, not before I see a proper RPS Verdict.

    That rocket launcher was ridiculous btw.

  5. Mister Adequate says:

    It’s like someone reached into my mind and took one of the best ideas I ever had and made it real!

  6. David says:

    Holy crap, that’s insane! The engine is looking a little dated, but otherwise it looks like a jolly good time!

  7. fearian says:

    Poly counters all up in this thread, yo!

  8. cncplyr says:

    lopl that looks… interesting…

  9. Rabbitsoup says:

    awesome, but i worry about the AI …

    anyone play the battelgrounds hl2 mod where its mutiplayer musket fighting?

  10. JonFitt says:

    I hope they manage to recreate a real feeling of all of the time periods. Otherwise it’ll just be:
    Level 1 sword baddies.
    Level 2 musket baddies. etc.

  11. Shadow Aspect says:

    Lack_26, no, that one’s Alliance: Silent War – which is by now probably permanently cancelled. Website: link to alliancethegame.com

  12. Lack_26 says:

    @Shadow Aspect,

    Ah, shame. That one looked to be a fair way into development. Ah well, this still looks fun in a silly kind of way.

    Now just to wait until CoD [Number]: Bloody Big Battles where they take battles from history and throw them together without a care for plot (which CoD has always sucked at, despite what my friends claim).

  13. Stabbie says:

    @rabbitsoup: Yeah, Battlegrounds had alot of promise. Too bad it never went anywhere. There are still lots of issues with it…

  14. shiggz says:

    Those of us who were raised by video games have long day-dreamed of this during history lessons and documentaries. Its about time they bring it to the mouse!

    Regarding video game violence i would say treating all creatures and people around you as pinatas which may drop goodies if you smash them hard enough… may not be the healthiest of behaviors for some people over the long term.

  15. EGTF says:

    Downloading the demo now. I’m interested to see how it plays out.

  16. A-Scale says:

    Brilliant. I will be keeping a very close eye on this one. The idea of shooting Roman Legion soldiers very closely mimics a daydream I once had, and makes me happy.

    Also, the cocking of the bolt action rifle and lever action rifle is hugely laughable. I take it these guys have never shot a weapon in their life.

  17. A-Scale says:

    PS: F&#$ Fileplanet.

  18. Jad says:

    Surprised that this hasn’t been mentioned yet, but if you like this kind of stuff, check out the book Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove. Time travelers bring AK-47s back to the American Civil War in an attempt to change history and make the Confederacy win. Not the greatest writing ever, but a bunch of loony scenes of assault rifle vs. muzzle-loading rifle.

  19. Clovus says:

    So you play a soldier who uses advanced weaponry to inflict completely disproportinate damage on other soldiers using obsolete technology? I thought that game about Fallujah was cancelled.

    This is a really cool idea though.

    Seriously though, don’t drop your gun against the Romans, or else you’ll be facing off against a legion of Romans using an improved version of that gun in about two months.

    Why hasn’t this started a “100 Navy Seals” vs “Entire Roman Army” style flamewar yet?

    I can’t see the videos at work, but I immediately think of Serious Sam…

  20. Gap Gen says:

    How about Civilisation twinned with, say, something like ArmA? In Civ fighting spearmen with aircraft carriers does happen, and so this kind of conflict, along with whatever social consequences for the vastly asymmetric warfare that would entail, would be a natural extension of that game. After all, European colonialism and imperialism was in some ways like this, with modern gunpowder weapons against pre-metalworking societies in some cases.

  21. Gap Gen says:

    Also, Clovus: I think there’s a difference between reverse engineering a wooden ship and developing machine tools to sufficient precision to build modern rifles, plus having an understanding of chemistry enough to build the ammunition.

  22. Clovus says:

    @Gap Gen: Maybe a slight difference. But singlehandedly trying to take over Rome with modern weapons (not the point of the game I’m sure) would be a very Hannibal-esque voyage. You mow down an entire legion only to have another one pop up the next day. And then another. And then another. Seriously, WTF?

    And then the running and chasing…

    I’m guessing this game is not a logical extension of anything but some random bit of awesomeness that popped into someones head (stoned or not). But getting to fight the battles in Civ would be cool…

  23. shiggz says:

    Just finished the demo it was pretty fun. Some funny dialog. grenades threw weird, (like from the chest rather then the arm) Cannon was also a pain, give me iron sites or at least a stupid cross hair. Do not give me the worst of both worlds. Minor complaints though.

    The intro was pretty cool. I was worried that the “chasers” you use to save important people would be a pain and it would turn into babysitting and quicksaves and quickloading. It didn’t, and it was actually kinda a cool twist. The quick reloading thing i thought was gonna be a huge pain actually turned out to be kinda cool.

    That said so many of these games the bullets are instant. no matter the distance. I’ll take fallout 3 speed bullets any day of the week. Last point.. they better have a sweet tree-mowing mini-gun!

  24. pepper says:

    I will only be pleased with this game if i can run around with 2 berghmann WWI machine guns screaming insane words with maniacal laughter on a roman battlefield.

    Oh well, looks interesting by the trailers.

  25. Gap Gen says:

    Clovus: I’d guess you’d have to do it using special ops forces to take out key figures, rather than just attempting to kill every person with a sword. It’d be a bit like Blackhawk Down, against a bigger force with more organisation but no guns or RPGs. Hell, if you didn’t care about casualties you could just carpetbomb the city.

  26. wm says:

    Well, I just tried the brand new demo. It’s the choppiest, most sluggish thing I think I’ve ever run on this computer.

    I couldn’t even play through it. I had about 1 fps at one point. My computer is not shit. I run things like Fallout 3 on the highest settings, smooth as you like. The programming behind this demo, however, clearly *is* shit.

    What a shame.

  27. Berzee says:

    More fun would be a Roman Centurion who time-travels into modern warfare and has to try to fight machine gun types with his spear ^_^

  28. Gap Gen says:

    Actually, I think I had a dream once where I was a Roman soldier fighting a modern army. I think we were bombed, and the last thing I remember of the dream was crawling under a bush, trying to avoid the explosions.

  29. Serondal says:

    It has always been one of my fantasies to go back in time with a machine gun and mow down people using swords and shields, seriously! This is awesome.

  30. Serondal says:

    In the photo above it shows a roman solider stopping rounds from a machine gun with a tower shield, if the game ends up keeping that factor I’ll be right angry :P There is NO WAY a wooden tower shield could stop a freaking .50 round, at least that looks like it is suposed to be a .50 cal machine gun I could be wrong. Either way even a pistol would go through one of those things at that range.

  31. Jake R. says:

    Society for Destructive Anachronism.

  32. JonFitt says:

    It wasn’t too bad. The AI was a bit ropey, and the logic of the plot somewhat daft, but the atmosphere was good, and the shooting was fun. Overall I enjoyed the demo.

    How many other chances are you going to get to play through historical battles in an fps? I’ll probably play this for the novelty.

  33. FernandoDANTE says:

    Timeplitters looked more interesting.

  34. Funky Badger says:

    Cap Gen: they did with their bare hands what we still can’t do today.

    Ahem, e.g. Greek Fire – no one knows how to make that anymore, but the old blokes did. Ditto pyramids etc.

  35. Funky Badger says:

    Cap Gen: I’d imagine the Roman (and especially Byzantine) era “special forces” types and close security would be very high standard. What with the general levels of murder and unpleasantness doing the rounds. Obv, there’d be a technical disavantage. But that runs out once your modern tech breaks. Unless you’ve brought Thomas Edison along with you.

    Yeah, a crack SASS squad dropped in, say Londinium, wouldn’t have much hope of getting Ceasar’s head onna stick…

  36. mpk says:

    Just played the demo: good start, but I wanted to be a Sioux (at one point I shouted “that dude just got an arrow in the brain!” and scared the shit out of my missus) then faded in the tutorial section. The Civil War mission was fun and although I didn’t like having control taken off me I understand why they’ve done it. I especially liked the part near then end when you find a mass grave of mixed troops and your movement speed is halved as you wade knee deep in blood and bits. Nice touch.

    I look forward to this.

  37. DK says:

    “Either way even a pistol would go through one of those things at that range.”
    I wouldn’t count on that – most pistols have remarkably poor penetration power. A solid inch of iron-reinforced wood would at the very least slow a low power pistol round to the point where it’s useless, if not outright stop it.

    On the game front, after playing the demo (and having it run smooth as hell – I had far more performance optimization issues with Fallout 3, poster above) this thing actually suprised me. In the positive sense. There’s a certain B-movie vibe to the story that’s endearing, while it’s pretty and polished enough to be fun.

    Plus, I just imagine the character going “come with me if you want to live.” whenever he grabs one of the time-important people.

  38. Gap Gen says:

    “they did with their bare hands what we still can’t do today.”

    You mean, build an industrial-age civilisation capable of precision machining in the space of a few years? Arguably, the Romans did have the knowledge available to make steam engines, but they didn’t have the metallurgy skills or the incentive (since slave power seemed to do the trick).

    Also, not knowing what Greek fire was exactly isn’t the same as not being able to make it now. We have plenty of ways to burn people alive very effectively on the battlefield (napalm, WP, flamethrowers, you name it).

  39. MrBejeebus says:

    I liked the gameplay, but i didnt think the way the ai didnt react to you and the feeling you dont have much effect a bit silly, i might buy, probably wont sadly..

  40. Funky Badger says:

    Gap Gen: more of an excuse to mis-quote Neil Young. The romans were no dummies, the tech behind damascene blades, for example, is not to be sniffed at. And they were, above all else, pragmatic. It might have taken them 2 years to suss the reverse engineering, but they’d have done it…

  41. DK says:

    “I liked the gameplay, but i didnt think the way the ai didnt react to you and the feeling you dont have much effect a bit silly, i might buy, probably wont sadly..”
    The way the AI reacts seems to be rather specific actually – it prioritises other NPC’s above the player. You can test that with the demo by running ahead and facing the long line of musket wielding white-uniforms (sorry, I’m not American so I don’t know the specifics of that local tussle) on your own.

    If you’re at that point on your own, you get shot to bits. If you march there with NPC support, the friendly soldiers fall around you while you’re unharmed. I suppose that mechanic makes it look like the AI ignores you or doesn’t react to you, but there does seem to be a point behind it.

  42. Gap Gen says:

    Funky Badger: Two years to advance from an iron age civilisation to a military-industrial complex, complete with all the scientific advances and infrastructural changes that this entails? This is something that took society hundreds of years. The Romans were smart, but they weren’t many hundreds times smarter than we are.

    To put it another way – we know in reasonable detail how a black hole is made, but we can’t build one ourselves yet, and we certainly aren’t two years away from making one (or at least one that doesn’t vanish instantly). Finding something isn’t the same as being able to build it, and I’d wager that a trireme is a bit simpler to copy in a pre-Industrial Revolution society than an M4 carbine, say. I’d be willing to buy that with a lot of luck, they could build a bombard with a bit of ingenuity.

  43. Thranx says:

    Fun fact. The demo is the first app to bluescreen Windows 7 for me.

  44. Sam C. says:

    I tried out the demo as well, and it’s a fair amount of fun. The taking away of control has already been mentioned, and I can’t really think of a great reason to do so, it seemed a little silly. The one quibble is how no one seems to care that you’re spraying away with an automatic rifle from the future, or throwing handfuls of glowing metal balls. Just shouts of “What is that thing?” would be kind of nice.
    Some poor bastard Union soldier is going to be telling his grandchildren about The Man With the Hand-Maxim rifle that can throw magical balls of green light, and no one will believe him.

  45. Lack_26 says:

    Clearly the AI ignores you since the brain filters out what it doesn’t want to see (Discworld reference there), so they clear just cant see the 6 foot futuristic mass slaughter machine. There it makes perfect sense. (Not that this game needs to).

  46. Concept says:

    Reminds me of Battlegrounds.

    For King and Country!

    So much fun, its was basically shoot once and then try and bayonet people, as reloading was rubbish/not worth it.

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  48. Lunaran says:

    ^^ We’ve been flogged.