Shade, protagonist of Immortal Darkness: Curse of the Pale King, used to be a vampire hunter. Until they got bitten, that is. And now they’re up against some evil arch vampire. How’s that for bad luck?
Ah, the dilemma of the half-vampire: they can drink blood and enjoy its healing properties. But alas, should they drink too much, they will succumb to their curse’s dark powers and turn irrevocably evil. Quite the predicament, right?
Immortal Darkness has players traversing an ancient dungeon filled with enemies and deadly traps in search of the Pale King, who’s in for an epic staking, being the root of all evil and all that. However, you need to find him first.
The dungeon is a multi-level maze with huge, sprawling floors. Navigation is actually not that much of a problem, but I can see some players losing their way. An automap would be more than appreciated. Environmental puzzles, such as levers, breakable walls, and other, more complicated fare, keep things interesting and add variety to the otherwise slightly drab-looking levels.
Whenever you encounter enemies, you can rush at them with your trusty sword. However, this will get you killed before too long. Your foes are strong and their sheer number makes them a threat worth taking seriously. That’s where magic comes in. Found all over the dungeon, various spells help you in combat encounters by burning, freezing, electrocuting, poisoning, or pushing away your foes.
Immortal Darkness‘ biggest strength is probably the way these spells complement each other and allow for some creative mayhem. For example, you can use your long-range magic missiles to get someone’s attention, drawing them away from the crowd and promptly having them step on the flame trap you positioned along the way. Then, conjure up a freezing cloud of ice over them, and push them back in whenever they try to leave it.
Alternatively, you run up to a large group of enemies carelessly positioned near a chasm and just push them in. Nyahaha, that’s what you get for saving on handrails, evil dungeon overlord! Or you can pummel someone with projectiles until they step into a trap. This is a lot of fun and turns every room and new group of enemies into a neat combat puzzle to be solved.
Spells can also be upgraded and swapped out to your liking, as there are more available spells than you can hold. This allows for some customization and certainly makes up for the fact that the RPG staples of collecting experience and leveling up feel somewhat underused. Each level up gives you a slight stat increase and that’s it.
The game’s other big feature is the whole “drinking blood” thing. You see, health potions are really scarce, and enemies will hurt you eventually. That’s when you can turn to vampirism. With a click of the right mouse button, you handily slurp up all the blood from vanquished foes in the area, healing yourself in the process.
Ah, but there’s a catch! With every bit of blood gobbled down, your attacks get weaker and your evil meter jumps up quite a bit. If it reaches 100%, it’s essentially game over for you. Evil has won. You’re a bad guy now, boo. There are potions that reduce your evil meter, and there is also the old-fashioned way: kill bad guys with more “conventional” means. A lot of bad guys.
I have to say that the way this is handled by the game feels just right. Being corrupted by the dark side is an ever-present threat in the back of your mind, but it’s never really that urgent if you use all available means at your disposal and don’t just rush into every combat encounter. It effectively keeps you from button-mashing your way to victory, and that’s pretty neat.
The controls can be a bit fiddly. You move by pushing and holding the left mouse button, but you also attack when you left-click on an enemy. Turns out that these two things don’t work together too well, robbing you of some mobility when engaged in combat. Thankfully, you can also use the space bar to attack, but still, it doesn’t feel ideal. Skills and items are activated via (rebindable) keys, just like in every other action RPG.
Overall, Immortal Darkness is a fun dungeon romp with clever environmental puzzles. The game works well because the underlying systems are fine-tuned and fun. Sure, it might not be much of a looker, with samey dungeon design and a low variety of enemies. However, vanquishing your foes in a bunch of different ways, using the environment to your advantage, and sucking sweet, sweet bad guy blood (in moderate amounts, mind) makes for satisfying, good times all around.
DISCLOSURE – Giant Space Monster, developers of Immortal Darkness, are currently paying for a sidebar advertising image with Indie Games Plus. This has not affected our decision to cover/review their game.