Gaming with friends can at times be a trying experience. Go online and try to play as a team and you’ll always find someone who lets things down, mostly due to selfishness and the need for glory hunting. How many times have you needed healing and your squad walks past laughing? How many times have you been free in front of goal and your teammate kicks it into the crowd? Thankfully, there are games which reward teamwork, thriving on solving tasks together. The atmospheric Mørkredd is one of those games; an experience that requires complete dual understanding and reliance on each other in order to achieve both harmonious tears of joy and stroppy tantrums at bedtime.
Mørkredd comes to market with a nice story and some brilliant world-building that is all very substantial and told completely without words or cutscenes. It’s a game that is communicated through visuals and your imagination, as you come across strange pathways and old, ancient structures with unusual creatures. Now and again you might even stumble upon a mosaic that hints at the secrets of the world. It’s a device I always enjoy, and puts Mørkredd in the same vein as games like Journey or Inside.
You start Mørkredd as a man and woman are woken by a ball of light in a dark world. They first follow the light to avoid the impending darkness around them, but soon in their travels they find the ball of light increases in size, leaving them – and you – to then push it around the world, through obstacles and across puzzles to eventually find the end of the journey.
The gameplay is divided into two options, whereby you either play through Mørkredd in the single-player or partake in a bit of couch co-op. For the purposes of this review, I played Mørkredd in both settings and interestingly have had two different experiences of the game.
Your main objective is to avoid the darkness. To do this the characters at the start are following a floating orb of light that weaves in and out of the wilderness. Soon it enters a huge orbital vessel that you and your partner have to move with you to take the light on your journey. The tests that then occur come about as the light casts shadows from your characters; if one of you goes behind the other and enters their shadow then they die, and you’re both left to start again – or at least from the latest checkpoint you would have hit. As you progress through the game, increasingly tricky puzzles appear in each section and you are left to just use the LB button for action and your movement. Controlling the ball is tricky and negotiation between you and your partner is the key.
You see, you may have to work through a section where one of you has to move away from the orb in order to pull a lever to open a gate, as the other tries their best to light the way. In another section you’ll be tasked with operating the ball together, building bridges to allow access across a gap. And then there are sections which see dark shadow creatures appear, attempting to hinder your progress; you need to destroy them with your shadows or just run with the ball of light. There are a whole host of interesting conundrums to try and conquer.
As a single player, Mørkredd pulls out all the stops to ensure you are able to spend time with the game. It works a bit like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons where you control one of the characters with the left stick and the other with the right stick. It works absolutely fine in that game because most of the time the threat of death is low; threatening situations are very few and far between. Here death is always lurking in every shadow and one small mistake can cost you dearly. Honestly, I had trouble getting to grip with the controls and it is there where frustration takes over. It is here where the co-op option is somewhat easier and much more enjoyable.
It’s all decent enough playing Mørkredd alone, but with a friend on the couch is where it becomes brilliant to play, no matter what your friend’s skill level. I encouraged my partner to spend time with Mørkredd and she has hardly played any games before. Just a few minutes in though she was completely engrossed; fully intrigued all the way through. I put this down to the fact that in Mørkredd there is something hugely satisfying about trying to talk your way through a puzzle – especially after being stuck for a while – all as the light bulb moment hits. Yes, there are moments of frustration, but the whole experience is great in co-op and this is where Mørkredd really shines.
However you’re playing Mørkredd, the visuals are lovely, especially as the locations are revealed to you, the journey hinting at past civilisations and strange odd worlds full of machines and giant monsters. It tells a story through the visual design and it does this beautifully. Sound-wise and we’ve got a soundtrack that employs a mysterious and unique score that manages to completely envelop you in the world and the tension. The effects are great and it’s a game that needs to be played with the lights off and the sound turned up – loud.
Mørkredd on Xbox is hugely enjoyable in co-op, delivering a delightful game full of mystery, magic, and wonder, complete with puzzles that test both your brain and your friendship. In the single player it’s a little more of a struggle though. My advice? Grab a buddy and play the wonderful Mørkredd right now – It’s both challenging and unique.