Welcome to Mechanically Beautiful, where we look into the widely debated topic, “Are Video Games Art?”. I am here to say that yes, I do believe video games are a form of art. I am going to give you readers some amazing examples of why I believe this. If you are not a believer of this idea, then maybe these articles will change your mind. But even if they don’t, you will get a chance to hear about, and maybe look into, some beautiful games in the industry. Today, we look at the brutal and beautiful game, “The Darkness II.”
“The Darkness II” is a very gory and brutal first person shooter made by the developers Digital Extremes. You play as Jackie, the mob boss who has acquired the power of The Darkness. A crazy cult now threatens Jackie and his family, since they want The Darkness for themselves. The Darkness is two large tentacles that sprout from your shoulders. They appear as giant demon snakes and can tear through just about anything.
Now, this game is one of the most gory games I have ever played (due to The Darkness), so I feel that talking a bit about the gore is necessary. I won’t get super graphic, but I will say that the blood and flesh ripping is very good. Now, I am not a violent person, but I did find myself a bit impressed with the attention to this aspect. I think the game does a very good job of making you feel like a powerful mobster with demon arms at your side while ripping through enemies.
The game does have a very high quality, real style of drawing. However, it is all cell shaded. Cell shaded means that the game looks like it was pulled out of a comic book with thick black outlines and graphic style shading on the textures. The people and objects look as they do in the real world but with the cell shaded coat over it. If you look at each of the characters they have very high detailed facial expressions as well as detailed skin. I enjoy the cell shaded style greatly because it really invokes a sense that the developers genuinely care about the quality and attention to detail in their game. This style also gives the game an anime or cartoon feel.
Next I want to talk about The Darkness itself. The huge tentacles are with you throughout the whole game, so it’s worth noting their looks. The tentacles are huge and have teeth that look like giant curved knives. They almost remind me of the rough and sharp look of Wolverine’s bone claws. The two different snakes are not identical, either. The snake on the right is slimmer and with horn-like shapes on the top. The snake on the left, however, is a bit fatter and with large dull bones protruding from its chin and the back of its jaw bone. Both snakes have yellow glowing eyes and carry expressions as if they constantly want more human flesh (which, to be fair, they do). To top it all off, the snakes have red pulsing veins running down their bodies which stands out against the shiny, black-ooze type skin they have.
Now let’s talk about the enemies. To start off, you face a lot of enemy mobsters and hired gunmen. These particular enemies are not super-fancy or impressive, but they do look rather fabulous in their fancy mobster suits. Later on, however, you fight members of the cult trying to steal your powers. They have some of their own dark weapons and armor as well, made from the same stuff that The Darkness seems to come from. They also wear large black helmets with strange orange markings on them. These cult members look like they have been entangled by a dark energy. Their weapons have this same forged evil look. The texture on these pieces of armor and weapons also make them look a bit rough and like stone. When you break the armor, the men beneath have orange glowing eyes with pulsing veins running up their skin to match. You can see the same design and thought behind the The Darkness in the gear the enemies have. This is a nice tie-in which shows that evil is really corrupting the world the characters are in.
The main character, Jackie, is very interesting. He is very much an Italian mobster in a stereotypical way. He’s a tall guy with long, wavy black hair and a huge, jet-black duster jacket. Behind the jacket, he wears a dress shirt and pants with your usual dress boots. Visually, Jackie is what you would expect. He even sits in a very fancy-looking chair when he gives his monologues in between chapters. The reason I like Jackie is his demeanor, attitude, and how it ties in with his looks. He sits in his chair while waving his dual pistols in the air and tells stories about his life. He gives a nice air of both knowledge and cockyness, but it really works well. How he moves, talks, and looks makes you start to listen to Jackie almost as though he’s a philosopher. Really, though, Jackie is just a mob boss who wants the usual power and money. It was a very entertaining feeling in a mob boss character.
“The Darkness II” is a game that (if you have the stomach for it) is really something to look at. The blood, enemies, and demon powers really catch your eye. Along with it being a nice visual feast of gore and violence, it is also just a generally fun game. I did not play the first game, so I can tell you that you don’t have to play it to enjoy its sequel. Thanks for reading! If you’d like, you can purchase “The Darkness II” here on Amazon.