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The Darkside Detective review for Nintendo Switch


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PC
Publisher: Isometric Dreams
Developer: Spooky Doorway
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

One of the things that bothers me about adventure games is that, too often, it feels like they’re built around their own inscrutable logic. This complaint is an old one, I know — one of the genre’s best deconstructions is nearly twenty years old — but it still explains why, more often than not, I find my attention span wandering well before I reach the end of far too many adventure games.

Which is what makes The Darkside Detective such a breath of fresh air. It describes itself as a “micro-adventure,” which apparently is a fancy way of saying that it features puzzles that don’t require a dozen random steps to complete, but, instead, follow fairly straightforward, linear logic. The game even makes a joke out of this at one point, when the main character stumbles across a necessary item just sitting in the middle of the floor — true, later on he’s forced to combine it with something else, but in that moment, it still feels weird (but in a good way) to have something handed to you without making you jump through nonsensical hoops.

Admittedly, the other interpretation of this could be that The Darkside Detective is just a shorter, dumbed-down adventure game, but I don’t think that’s fair. The puzzles may be straightforward, but they’re also challenging enough to make it feel like you’ve accomplished something when you solve them.

On top of that, The Darkside Detective is, in the best tradition of the genre, a genuinely funny game. The characters are all full of witty one-liners, and there are all kinds of amusing double entendres and puns in the descriptions of the various clickable objects. It’s not quite Portal-level humour or anything, but it was still funny enough to get me to laugh out loud a couple of times per case.

Another point in the game’s favour: it looks and sounds delightful. Neither the pixel-art graphics nor the simplistic-sounding score stretch the Switch to its limits, but they give the game ambience and charm that are easy to love.

Of course, this may just be because everything about The Darkside Detective is easy to love. It’s funny, it poses just the right level of challenge, the characters are delightful — if that’s how you define “micro-adventure”, I’m all for the subgenre.

Isometric Dreams provided us with a Darkside Detective Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A