Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark [Switch] Review – Hawaii Five-Ooooo
There’s a puzzle in Fumble In The Dark where you must travel down a carnival’s tunnel of love ride. To do this you need to power up a swan boat – so you have to connect it to wiring leading to a robot chicken. Which you then have to blast with an electric death ray.
Oh, and before we forget – this ray belongs to the ghost of Nikola Tesla.
So goes just one small part of a case in this sequel to Darkside Detective, a point and click adventure that offers up mad puzzles with a lovably wry sense of humour.
If you played the first game you’ll know what to expect, and it’s arguably a tad sharper and more intelligent than its predecessor.
It sees you helping Detective Francis McQueen and his partner Patrick Dooley – both members of the Darkside detective division of the police department – solving a range of supernatural crimes.
This is done in typical point and click style, with each case – of which there are six – consisting of multiple static screens where you must talk to locals, find clues, and use objects to make progress.
From a technical point of view Fumble in the Dark is incredibly simplistic. There’s barely any character animation, no recorded speech, and little in the way of sound effects.
Yet developer Spooky Doorway has somehow still made a game with buckets of personality. The pixel-art visuals are sometimes gorgeous in their simplicity, but the ace in the game’s hand is the writing.
It’s consistently witty, knowing, and intelligent – without ever being too smug or abrasive. Considering the arguably overdone subject matter and number of references it throws your way (not as many as the first game, which is welcome) that’s no mean feat.
There’s not a massive reliance on repeating jokes from the first game either, although we’d definitely recommend playing that before this one. Many characters from its predecessor return, and the first case won’t have much of an impact for first time entrants to the series.
The actual cases themselves are enjoyable, if not massively intricate. Each one lasts roughly an hour and a half, so there’s no real chance for twisty narratives to be weaved – they all feel like TV episodes rather than feature films. Which was probably the point.
As for the puzzles, they’re often refreshingly bizarre. Never too obtuse, and once you’re in tune with the game’s way of thinking there’s definitely a consistency to the solutions you’ll have to think up.
One issue we had was that on occasion you’d need to look at something or do something ultimately inconsequential to solve a puzzle though, so a hint system would have been welcome.
Ultimately though, Fumble In The Dark is a triumph. It takes the solid foundations from Darkside Detective and gently improves upon them, while still offering up a hugely charming adventure.