We haven't had a good vampire game in ages. Sure you can play a vampire in Skyrim, but we haven't had a really good vampire game since Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines back in 2004. DARK looks to fill that void a bit and so far the game doesn't look half bad. Luckily we were able to get Dennis Blumenthal, the producer of DARK, to answer a few questions about the game.
Could you describe the universe that DARK is set in? How long did it take you to flesh out the world?
DARK is set in what can best be described as a near future. Everything is very modern and high tech. It's a world, of course, populated by vampires, who control many large corporations and entities, but do so in secret.
Please introduce us to Eric Bane. What is his backstory and how did he become a vampire? Was this a willing transition?
Eric wakes up in a night club called the Sanctuary. He has no memory of what has happened or how he got into the Sanctuary, but he soon discovers that he somehow has become a vampire and that all the other visitors of the club are vampires, too. While trying to find out who made him a vampire he meets several other vampires who help him, like Rose (she owns the Sanctuary) or Tom (who’s responsible for the security in the Sanctuary).
What’s your take on the vampire mythos? How did they come to exist and how visible are they to the population at large?
In DARK, vampires live undiscovered in the shadows beside human society.There is no explanation or theory about the origin of vampires, but there are some very old vampires in the game. One of them even already lived at the time of the Crusades.
What kinds of abilities and weaknesses do vampires have in the world of DARK? Eric isn’t going to sparkle in sunlight is he?
In the world of DARK, our vampires are pretty powerful. You, as Eric, for example, will be able to unlock or upgrade up to 16 powers. You can use Shadow Leap, a short-range teleportation skill, or Distract, which, as the name implies, distracts nearby enemies. Along with that, you can perform melee instant kills, long-range choking attacks, and much more.
Weaknesses? Well, as Eric, you'll need Vitae (Blood Energy), to use those special skills, and you can only get Vitae by drinking human blood. Along with that, you'll also want to avoid UV light, of which, the enemy special forces have plenty of, and bullets, which still can injure you.
For you, what are the key themes of any games that involve vampires? How are you incorporating those into the game?
Well, I guess the key themes of every vampire game are: 1) Vampires (obviously), 2) Blood and 3) Darkness. In DARK you play a vampire (1, check), you can use several vampire skills and need the blood of the living for this (2, check), and as DARK is a stealth game, a big part of it is to sneak through the darkness and stalk your prey (3, check).
From the E3 demo last year the game felt a lot like what would happen if Sam Fisher was a vampire, is that a fair assessment?
What kinds of gameplay elements will be in the game? What’s the balance between stealth and action?
This depends on the way you play it, but on average I would say the ratio is Stealth/Action = 75/25. Regarding the gameplay elements: in DARK you sneak, you kill, you choose dialog options, you earn experience and skill points, and you learn and improve awesome vampire skills.
Will Eric have access to any weapons in the game or is it just him and his vampire powers? Could you talk about why you made this decision?
No, it's just Eric and his fresh new vampire skills. This keeps the focus on you as the player and your skill with understanding and controlling the environment around you, rather than letting you just grab a gun and cut loose.
Could you talk about how the stealth system works in the game? Is this going to be an instant-death-on-detection kind of experience or will there be options to fall back and reset an area without dying?
Our stealth system works in "levels of alertness." Say you accidentally make a noise near a guard, or maybe are moving as he's partially looking towards you--then you'll see an alert warning that's white in color to let you know this. If you stay in his visual or audio range, the alert marker will start to darken towards a dark red color. The darker it gets, the more alert the guard is, and the better the chance he's going to sound the alarm and come after you. But, if you can hide behind cover (via walking, teleporting, etc.) before it changes out of a "white alert," the odds are good he'll figure it was nothing and go about his business. Let the alert meter get to full red alert, and expect a whole lot of guards coming down on you at once.
What powers will Eric command in the game? Will subsequent playthroughs allow for different experiences based on the powers you choose?
There are 16 powers in the game, which you can upgrade as you earn XP and level up. Some powers focus on stealth and concealed movement, like Shadow Leap, which lets you teleport via the shadows. Other powers focus on dealing damage, like Shadow Grip, which chokes an enemy from a distance. Then there's sort of in-between powers, like Celerity, which has you moving twice as fast as normal when active (so you can get into, or out, of a situation quickly).
While the overall story and mission structure of the game won't change, it will certainly be a different experience should you try out different powers. For example, you could sneak past some guards and earn more XP for being stealthy, or you could jump in with a Shadow Kill (teleport with a killing move on the end) to get the job done--it won't earn as much XP, but you'd get the job done more quickly if you're in a hurry.
Since you need Vitate to activate powers, if you choose to use the "power" route through a level, you'll need to think about how you're going to sneak up on some enemies to drink their blood--the only way to reload Vitae--which ups the challenge.
Was there ever any thought of making this a first-person game or was it going to be a third-person game the entire time?
It was always intended as a third-person game. True story.
Will DARK be a single-player experience only or are you considering multiplayer?
We're focusing all our efforts on a single-player game.
Are you planning on releasing a demo of the game before launch?
We’ve discussed this a lot, but unfortunately the effort would be much to high to create a demo.
We'd like to thank Dennis for answering our questions, and Ted for setting up the interview.
Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom. I have been a Microsoft Xbox MVP since 2009.