Dark Fall 2: Lights Out

Developer:  XXv Productions
Publisher:  The Adventure Company
Year Released:  2004

Review by Steve Ramsey (September, 2004)
Who are you calling Steve? Me? No, I'm Parker. What am I doing here?

I know this place. This is the lighthouse. I remember Trewarthan, and Demarion and a task. Why in the middle of the night? I am a cartographer. I came here to draw maps, not sail around in the fog and the dark.

I said no. Should I have said yes? Would it have made a difference? Probably not, seeing as I am here anyway.

But here is not here. It's all different.

It didn't used to be. It was just a lighthouse, but without people. There were supposed to be people, three of them I think. I thought they might be hiding in the dark corners. I thought I could hear them but there was nothing there. I heard a cough, a know I did. And footsteps. I still think something was hiding.

So where did they go? Where did I go?

I found the tunnel in the drawing. And lots of other things. Then I came here and sort of found them. And they found me. They spoke to me. They said things but mostly I didn't understand. Sometimes I couldn't hear them properly, and I could only see them with that thing the lady showed me. She spoke to me too, but she wouldn't let me in.

I know what's in there though. It's Drake's room. I was in there in the other place. I think I went back there first though.

But then I went somewhere else. Except it wasn't somewhere else. It was still here. How can I be there and here, and be in the same place? It doesn't make sense. Maps make sense.

"Leave this place and ponder" he/it said. Easy for him to say. He doesn't understand that I would if I could. I wonder if he is the one they all saw glowing? Is he Malakai?

There were books in one of the places, and they were about the lighthouse. There was something peculiar about what they said but I can't remember it now. Except I know it wasn't true.

Polly, that was her name. Why do I remember that when I can't remember other things? And why did she say she was James?

All those little tricks. They were like tests. The answers were hiding, like the people. I found them though. Some of them didn't want to be found, and they stayed in the dark or were hiding in another place, but I found them. I draw maps and I find things.

I had to walk around a lot to find all the answers. I missed some and had to go back. I could only see some if I stood in just the right place. They were the hardest to find.

The lady's thing helped with the finding. I should thank her. Perhaps I already did.

I had to look through people's things. I don't think they minded. They didn't say if they did.

I found cups and little lighthouses and pictures and letters and treasure in secret places. Lots of things. Lots of stories. Some were useful and some were fun, and some were just stuff.

I found lots of numbers too. And shapes. And colours. And then I tried to put them all in that machine where Malakai spoke. I am going to call him/it Malakai, whether he likes it or not. Or you. I don't know what else to call him/it, and things are always less complicated if they have a name.

Can you still hear me?

Maybe his name is DEOS. There was someone/thing called DEOS there. I found his hiding place behind the wall. There were more tunnels, and red light and shadows, and I don't think it was the lighthouse anymore.

I want to go back to the Fisherman's Arms. It was warm there. And they had food. Ivan had a party at DEOS' place. I bet there was food at the party. Maybe pasties. Why did I think of pasties?

If I shut my eyes I can hear the waves. And the birds. Music sometimes as well. Nice music as well as creepy music. Nice and creepy.

I don't want to talk anymore.

More mundanely...
Lights Out is a worthy follow up to the first Dark Fall. Far from faltering under the high expectations, Mr Boakes has created another rich and well paced ghostly tale. Not quite as edgy I thought, and a touch over finicky with some of the critical hotspots, but fans of the first game will be right at home here.

It would be telling too much to reveal much of the plot. It might be on the box or in the manual, but you won't find it here. Uncovering it as you go is part of the experience. It's a jigsaw, both in its experiencing and its solving. I did think the ending a bit flat though. It will be a matter of personal taste, but I wanted more overt closure on some of the threads.

It plays (and looks) like the first game, utilising a "letterbox" format in presentation. Menu in the top bar, inventory items in the bottom. Click the item if you are in the right spot, and it will be used. A small range of cursors indicate things can be done or examined in the game window. It's simple and easy to use. No (apparent) tweaking the settings though, and no subtitles.

It loads completely and plays without the CD if you want it to. Save games are small text files wherever you want to put them, so are as limitless as your hard drive has space. It's all point and click, all with the mouse.

It's an open game, more so after the initial parts. There is some backtracking, and some re-searching of places and things already examined once you reach certain stages of the game, but it's not simply more of the same.

Like the first Dark Fall, for full enjoyment don't rush through Lights Out. Read the letters and books you find, examine the photos and pictures. Listen to the sounds and embrace the dark. It's a many layered experience.

Not so much a sequel, but another part of what I hope will be a series with many more episodes. rating:  

Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2004. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Windows 98/ME/2000/xp, Pentium III 450 MHz or better, 128 MB RAM (256 MB recommended) 24x CD ROM, SVGA Graphics Card or better with 32-Bit colour 800 x 600 resolution, DirectX 9 compatible sound card.