Taking over a game that was well received, but made by a different developer is a daunting task, and is a feeling that Digital Extremes' Project Director Sheldon Carter knows all too well. However, being such big fans of "The Darkness," and the comic it was based on, made it easy for Carter's team to make the transition smoothly for "The Darkness 2." In a recent interview, he broke down just how much, and how little "The Darkness 2" has changed from the original, reassuring fans that they will not be disappointed.
"The Darkness 2" picks up two years after the original "Darkness" left off, and a lot has changed for Jackie Estacado and the Franchetti Family, but that won't be instantly noticeable just by playing the game. Right out of the gate, the tutorial, which sees Jackie being dragged through a restaurant that's under siege, feels strikingly similar to Starbreeze's car chase tutorial from "The Darkness," to which Carter made it clear that "we're not trying to fix what isn't broken."
One of those things that wasn't broken was the unexpected emotional connection that players felt to the characters in the original. Both Jackie and his girlfriend Jenny, who played a major role in the first game, struck a chord with fans, and Carter assured me that fans of the original's emotional aspects won't be disappointed with their follow up. He went so far as to place the scene where Jackie joins Jenny on her couch to watch TV in his "top 5 moments in games of all time."
"Paul Jenkins was the writer on the first game, he's the writer on tons of the comics, and he's the writer on this game as well. So one of our pillars was in service of story when we started making the game, and so we really want have moments like that. We think those are huge, and we have them."
Another one of the deliberate decisions made by Digital Extremes was to keep the player immersed in the game as Jackie at all times. This creates some remarkably intense moments. For example, Digital Extremes created what may be the first first-person crucifixion scene, something that Top Cow was surprisingly okay with.
"What actually ended up happening was a lot of times you see stuff [in the script], and then you come to implementation, and you figure out things that are honestly cooler. In the scene that you're seeing where Jackie is at the mercy of the villain, it was written as 'Jackie's trapped.' But then in implementation we were looking at it again as kind of homage to the first game. One of the things we loved so much were these torture sequences with Jackie, and we thought 'well hey, we could have Jackie being crucified here.' We fed that back to Paul and he was like, 'yeah, yeah, absolutely. I didn't know what you guys would want to do, just for the story we should have him trapped.' 'So, for the story, you're okay with us having first person crucifixion?,' and he's like 'yeah, do it, do it.'"
Crucifixion may be just the beginning for Jackie's second video game tale. Fans of the comic and of the original will have to wait until October to see just what Digital Extremes have up their sleeve for one of comic's most infamous anti-heroes.