About a year ago, XXV Productions brought us an adventure game based in haunting events in the English town of Dowerton. One year later, Lights Out:Dark Fall 2 is released as a sequel, though only in name and substance, as the story revolves around unexplained events connected to the supernatural and paranormal around thirty years prior to Dark Fall’s creepy accounts. Judging by the consistencies of both games, I’d have to say that possibly too much remained the same in areas that affected the play experience. I’d also admit that this is an average title any hardcore adventure fan should enjoy, and in a most probable sense, acquire a healthy dose of creep from.
Lights Out: Dark Fall 2 takes place in 1912... aaaand 2004... and 2090. Fact is you jump around a little bit in the process of solving the mystery of the lonely, offshore lighthouse on Fetch Rock. I promise not to give any more away than that, but your journey starts as a maker of maps, Benjamin Parker, summoned to the southern coastal town of Trewarthan. Your cartographic duties are ostensibly to sketch and map the area, as well as the tiny cropping of rock that founds the lighthouse, miles from shore. Where the story goes from here is anything but straightforward.
You are initially set on your journey to the lighthouse in the late hours of the night by the same man that summoned you, a shady character named Demarion, who also happens to be a prominent local figure. Once you arrive on the isle, the mood rolls in like the tide, and doesn’t wash out until you get to the end of the game.
Like any adventure game, the controls are very basic. Iconic symbols, usually tailored to the game’s feel, aren’t anything too special here; you’ve got your forward, retreat, turn left/right, investigate, and use-item action identifiers. They all work well on the scenery where they should, but items or interest-events really don’t stand out as well as they could in places. I found myself missing clues after covering what I thought was the whole picture, and as anyone who braves these demanding games-of-patience knows, searching every bleeding corner for the one little thing you missed is a great way to quell interest.
While the different locations were lively and interesting (where their mood wasn’t supposed to be brooding and utterly dark), a lot of revisiting and backtracking happens, which is a roundup mood-killer. This is especially true once you start bopping back and forth in between time periods. Seeing the island in different stages of history creates a familiar mingling of what it was and what it will be, which really makes for a very interesting usage of limited landscape. But once it’s realized that these are whole new areas to scour for anachronistic tidbits and clues, the defeatist melancholia sets in. Just TRY and be scared or excited to go somewhere else once you realize it just means more ambiguous peek-and-pecking.
What may save Lights Out from being a plodding scavenger hunt is how well the story is built around the ambience, and vice versa. Walking through the lighthouse at any time period and hearing the footsteps of those you know are not there is creepy no matter what year it is, and those ghostly voices riding the wispy backs of wind gusts and crashing waves is goosebump heroin. Lights Out could have been a mood powerhouse, if only an exploratory camera had been implemented (but that would have required an extensive move to 3-D). It’s the still-life backdrops and fairly linear pathways that don’t really give you the full breadth of the spooky environments you’re in, from darkened corners to spiritually animated mannequins. In some cases, the non-descript environments can be disorienting, but it’s a small blessing that you really don’t have a lot of ground to cover throughout the game.
For a game that takes place all on one tiny little island, Lights Out: Dark Fall 2 keeps you guessing and discovering right from the beginning, learning more about the history of the rock, the lighthouse, and yourself from points in the future. The learning part becomes a strain after finding that barely missed evidence or clues is the main trademark method Lights Out utilizes in order to create a challenge, instead of good, old-fashioned logic. I’m not above a little hunting, but the margin of error is excessive, and that knocks the points down on gameplay. If you make the sojourn to Fetch Rock, bring your patience and obsessive need to search the seemingly unnecessary.