More Dark is a two-dimensional platformer that puts you in control of a minor demon. The lord of darkness has left on vacation, causing the kingdom to become a mess. His daughter, not one to slack, immediately tasks you with cleaning things up.
Now, I’ve probably overhyped the game with that initial description, because while that is the premise, the plot really isn’t a prominent part of More Dark. It’s just kind of awkwardly tossed at you as you’re playing. So instead of focusing on that, let’s look at the gameplay.
More Dark’s gameplay is very simple. For the majority of it you’ll only be able to walk, jump, and push crates. There are upgrades to periodically acquire, such as a slime ball that lets you jump twice as high, a bomb that will let you blow up marked blocks, and a magnet that lets you flip gravity – all fairly standard platforming elements.
There are 60 levels to play through with a few minigames and boss fights scattered in, but the majority of the levels are just simple puzzles. And by simple, I mean really simple. They are not complicated by any stretch of the imagination, and regardless of your aptitude for platformers, More Dark probably won’t take longer than two or three hours to get through.
Almost every level consists of jumping on the head of an enemy or two, which will unlock the exit door; then all you have to do is make it to that exit. You’ll also be required to push some crates so you can climb your way around the level. As you get new abilities the puzzles start to vary slightly but the main challenge for nearly every level is that of just arranging things in a way so you can climb out of the area.
At the beginning of the game, your mobility is limited to being able to jump one block high and across one block gaps. This makes it very easy to ascertain how you need to position crates. If you need to make it up a wall that’s two blocks high, you need one crate in that spot. If you need to go up three blocks, then you’ll need three crates. Most levels are just a matter of moving the crates into position, and once that’s done there won’t be much in your way.
However, if you accidentally push the crates too close to the wrong wall, or even too close to each other, then you’ll need to restart the level. The crates move incredibly easily so it isn’t uncommon to accidentally bump into a crate once or twice and end up with it in the wrong spot. Which I suppose means it’s a good thing the puzzles are simple, because having to restart only amounts to a minute or two of retracing your steps.
When all is said and done, my playthrough of More Dark ended at about one and a half hours of playtime and there were only a couple of levels that actually took some thinking to figure out. The majority of deaths were caused by impatience; trying to do things faster than I was supposed to, meaning I would jump too early or cut corners while going through the level, causing death. I’d say More Dark would be a good game for someone a bit younger who has an interest in puzzle games, but the themes are overtly sexual and violent which then doesn’t allow for it to be a particularly kid-friendly game.
There are a couple of boss fights that would normally help mix things up, but they are just some of the oddest boss fights I’ve ever come across in a platformer. Like the rest of the enemies, these guys need to be jumped on to be dealt damage, which makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that each one takes ten hits to beat. The fights don’t change, they don’t get more complex or difficult, and instead they are just drawn-out, tedious encounters.
There is also a mini “ball bounce”-esque game that just randomly shows up after awhile. I don’t really understand why it has been included in the game since it is so detached from everything else going on, but that seems to be a recurring theme for the entire playthrough.
More Dark doesn’t do anything unique or special, and what it does do isn’t particularly challenging or fun. The one thing it does do well though is it gives an easy 1000 Gamerscore, but otherwise it’s just awkward. The mechanics are okay but they don’t feel the best, the plot isn’t anything special, and even the menu systems are set up poorly.
One word of advice – as soon as I beat the game I noticed I had missed an achievement. So I went back to the level select to see what I could do to remedy that. I accidentally clicked on the “New Game” option and was immediately brought into the first level. I quickly backed out and saw that all of my save data was now gone, with no prompt to confirm deleting saved data or anything. At that point my only thought was thank god I already beat it.
All I can say is that if you want an easy 1000 Gamerscore and you have an hour or two to kill, then More Dark on Xbox might be a game worth picking up. It’s nothing special but it’s not an entirely miserable experience. Everything works fine, and at this point in time that’s more than can be said for some triple-A games!