Lucid Screaming: DARQ

DARQ [official site] is “a unique psychological horror game set in a zero-gravity lucid dream”. My lucid dreams tend to begin with a sense of drifting away from my own body, which could account for that ‘zero-gravity’ sensation, which seemed like an odd addition to the game’s description when I First saw it. Weightlessness and a lack of being.

Judging by the trailer DARQ has taken a few tips from Ice-Pick Lodge’s Knock-Knock, which is one of my favourite horror games. The unnerving twilight wanderings of that game are a fine place to find inspiration, but DARQ’s flexible funding indiegogo campaign makes me slightly uneasy in ways that aren’t related to its setting. [update regarding that below]

The flexible funding bothers me because the crowdfunding page states that the $20,000 goal is “the minimum amount we need to complete this game”. If that’s the case, presumably there’d be a need for a second round of funding, either through the crowd or through investors, if the developers didn’t reach the goal. But Indiegogo’s flexible funding model means they’d take whatever portion of the $20,000 had been contributed anyhow, so backers might be giving money to a team that doesn’t have the minimum needed to get the job done.

[Update: the developers have been in touch to assure us that the game will be finished even if they don’t reach their target: “The game will be made whether we make our goal our not. If we don’t meet our goal, the development process will take much longer and we won’t be able to hire voice actors.”]

It’s a shame that I have to mention all of that because I’m intrigued by the actual game.

“DARQ tells the story of Lloyd, a boy who becomes aware of the fact that he is dreaming. To Lloyd’s misfortune, the dream quickly turns into a nightmare and all attempts to wake up end in failure. While exploring the darkest corners of his subconscious, Lloyd learns how to survive the nightmare by bending the laws of physics and manipulating the fluid fabric of the dream world.”

Unlike the mysterious mechanics that were at the foundation of Knock-Knock, DARQ’s rules sound as if they’ll be recognisable. It’s a stealth game, in part at least, with enemies that detect light and sound, and a flashlight with which to pick your way through the dream. Parts of the world will be pitch black, leaving you to rely on sound alone as you navigate obstacles and avoid enemies.

Unfold Games also promise randomised elements, including enemy locations, and “Shining-like pacing”, which is to say “a slow build and creepy atmosphere”. My favourite kind of pacing is “Ring-like” or maybe even “Tale of Two Sisters-like”. A constant drip of dread that ends with a burst pipe of horror. Pacing and plumbing are just about the same thing, right?

7 Comments

  1. Kabukiman74 says:

    Off topic – did RPS change the frames? I’ve been struggling all day to read the articles since there is almost no spacing at the start and end of a line. Tried multiple browsers at home and at work so that isn’t the problem…

    • Phendron says:

      I have the same issue, seems like RPS has some kind of layout trouble every month or so.

    • GameCat says:

      Try doing the hard refresh: ctrl + F5.

    • yogibbear says:

      Website is broken for me also. On google chrome. Was literally working fine ~8 hrs ago. What did you do? (The text has no space between it and the frames of the objects or whatever).

  2. Mario Figueiredo says:

    It should be a better option to always assume (regardless even of what’s written in the label) that a game that doesn’t meet the minimum goal will not be finished. That is, at its core, the essence of crowdfunding.

    Some developers may wish to come up with simply a means to ensure some funding and will finish the game no matter what. That is great, as is great the fact so many do it this way. But from the perspective of anyone funding a project, I’d say our expectations should stay lower than that. Raising them too high is what leads to unfair complaints that some developer hasn’t “delivered as promised”.

    • grrrz says:

      making a game doesn’t actually cost money. Paying people to do so does, but if they are ready to work for free or for far less than minimum wage, for the satisfaction of doing it, and also the chance for it to make money back once it’s actually done, there is nothing wrong with it.