Think point and click adventure games are a thing of the past? Well, think again – The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark is the latest retro-style adventure game to show us there’s still life in the old genre yet.
The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark follows Detective Francis McQueen – a downtrodden officer of Twin Lakes Police Department. But Twin Lakes is no ordinary town and Detective McQueen is no ordinary police officer.
Supernatural occurrences take place in Twin Lakes on a regular basis, and Detective McQueen heads up the criminally underfunded Darkside Division – in charge of investigating all that paranormal activity along with his best pal Officer Dooley.
A Fumble in the Dark continues the buddy cop puzzle solving of the first game.
But this time the puzzle are a bit more complex and the script is even tighter – as well as being packed full of laughs.
But what if you’ve never played a point and click adventure before?
Well, first of all – where have you been?
The genre rose to prominence back in the 1980s with the likes of The Secret of Monkey Island
Many classic point and click games have been remastered for modern consoles, while Ron Gilbert – creator of the Monkey Island series – returned to the genre with a new adventure called Thimbleweed Park in 2017.
The Darkside Detective replicates the old point and click style with a modern twist, using impressive pixel art and a midi-style soundtrack to stir up the nostalgia in gamers of a certain age.
It’s clearly influenced by John Carpenter movies, the X-Files and a bunch of other cult franchises. And its satirical take on these is enough to bring something new to the table.
But it’s more than just rose-tinted nostalgia – it’s a great game, too.
The Darkside Detective is known for its off-kilter comedy and pop culture references, and A Fumble in the Dark is no exception. You’ll find 80s-inspired ballads, Back to the Future jokes and enough quippy one-liners to keep you laughing until the credits roll.
(Whoever came up with the Between Two Ferns joke is a genius).
There are subtle references to all your favourite cult franchises peppered throughout. But don’t worry – the story itself is top notch, too.
A Fumble in the Dark follows on directly from the events of The Darkside Detective. After solving their final case, Officer Dooley is teleported away to the Darkside in the blink of an eye.
That leaves Detective McQueen forced to track down his buddy. A whole year on, there’s still no sign of the strangely-buff police officer.
But Detective McQueen hasn’t given up hope.
A Fumble in the Dark is broken down into six different cases, much like the first game. The first of these is simple – rescue Officer Dooley from the Darkside.
But it’s never quite that simple. The Darkside Detective is a puzzle game at its core, so you’ll sometimes find yourself spending time trying to work out how to use the right combination of items or who to speak to, or even just which bit to click on next.
Thankfully, the pixel-finding frustrations of many early point and click games are gone.
The puzzles are clever, often fiendish but also forgiving.
And even when you do find yourself a bit stuck, the clever dialogue and snappy witticisms of McQueen and Dooley will keep you laughing out loud through the frustration.
There really is a lot to enjoy in The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark. And if you’re a fan of cult films and TV there’s plenty of jokes and references to put a smile on your face. If you’ve played the first game, you’ll be happy to see the return of several fan favourites, too.
A Fumble in the Dark really picks up where the Darkside Detective left off.
It’s not just more of the same, either – this clever sequel takes the premise and puzzle-solving of the first game and pushes it further. The dialogue is punchier, the puzzles are more interesting, and the game feels a lot more polished.
Throw in its unique pixelated art style and atmospheric soundtrack, and The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark delivers the perfect helping of nostalgia.
The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark is a gloriously retro nostalgia fix for those who love point and click games. But for those who have never played them before, it’s a brilliant introduction to the genre. A Fumble in the Dark is light-hearted, hilarious and often devious when it comes to the game’s puzzles. But don’t panic – you may get stuck from time to time but the solutions are usually fiendishly simple.
A game that rewards thinking outside the box, The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark brings back so many wonderful gaming memories. If you know how to use a rubber-chicken-with-a-pulley-in-the-middle, then you’re going to love it.
The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark is out now on Steam