I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark for some time, with the spooky (and mostly absurd) antics of Detective McQueen and Officer Dooley ALWAYS making for a fun time. After plenty of teasing on social media (it’s definitely worth following the game on Twitter) it has finally launched, bringing with it another selection of paranormal mysteries to unravel.
Much like the first game, it has completely hooked me in. Between the clever puzzle design, the kooky locales you explore, and some genuinely funny writing, it has all the pieces in place to offer another stellar point-and-click experience.
The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark’s opening case carries on directly from the conclusion of the first game. Detective McQueen is tasked with rescuing his bumbling partner from the mysterious otherworldly dimension… spooky, right? That’s the sort of thing you have to deal with when you work in America’s 34th most haunted city.
What follows is a tale that is told between six cases, with the player unravelling strange mysteries within the likes of a local wrestling organisation, a carnival full of oddballs, and a retirement home packed with unusual pensioners. Whilst Detective McQueen and Officer Dooley aren’t necessarily the most competent of crime-solving sleuths, they ALWAYS manage to get to the bottom of the mystery in the end.
“Detective McQueen and Officer Dooley aren’t necessarily the most competent of crime-solving sleuths, but they ALWAYS manage to get to the bottom of the mystery in the end.”
It’s in the narrative that The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark shines the most. Besides the writing being genuinely funny, there are plenty of pop-culture references and breaking of the fourth wall to add to the game’s charm. I loved seeing the interactions between characters in-game, with the faceless folk (look at the screenshots to see what I mean) packed full of personality and endearing quirks. Everyone is likeable, but in that ‘lovable oaf’ kind of way.
It is worth pointing out that those who played the first game might appreciate the narrative more than newcomers. Whilst it is by no means compulsory to have experienced it, there are returning characters and references to previous events aplenty. Don’t worry though: even if this is your first foray into the series, the narrative and writing is fantastic throughout and still easy to enjoy – you might just miss a few little throwbacks here and there.
Gameplay-wise, The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark plays like your typical point-and-click adventure. Players move between different screens full of characters to speak to, items to collect, and puzzles to solve… simple. What’s different here is that the adventure is split into six stand-alone cases, with each offering a different location to explore and mystery to uncover. Whilst they do tie together in the long run, it’s almost like a collection of short stories in a way.
“Players move between different screens full of characters to speak to, items to collect, and puzzles to solve… simple.“
It’s worth mentioning that whilst there are six cases now, more will follow. The original game brought three additional cases post-release (all for free) and it looks like the same will happen here, so there’s definitely an incentive to return to The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark in the long-run.
The puzzles of The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark follow the typical point-and-click formula with the player having to gather items and use them in the environment, but it’s simplified thanks to the smaller scale of the game. Each screen is smaller when compared to other releases in the genre with not a lot to interact with, making it easier to pinpoint what items might be needed. It makes it easier to remember items that might be useful later too – whilst you can put some items in your inventory straight away, others can only be collected when you need them. It helps streamline the puzzle-solving, which makes it easier for newbies to the genre to solve each enigma.
“Point-and-click adventures don’t follow TYPICAL rules when it comes to puzzle-solving and it’s definitely the case here.“
That’s not to say that there aren’t some tough conundrums to solve in the game. The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark isn’t afraid to embrace absurdity with its paranormal puzzling and there’ll be times where you have to use items for the silliest of reasons to get what you need. Point-and-click adventures don’t follow TYPICAL rules when it comes to puzzle-solving and it’s definitely the case here. Either way, you can expect to have to think outside of the box at times and it can make some puzzles real head-scratchers.
It all works REALLY well though; whilst The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark can feel simpler when compared to similar releases in the genre, it certainly isn’t lacking in ingenuity. The puzzles are all exceptionally clever in design and are always satisfying to solve. It all feels perfect to play on the Nintendo Switch too, especially since the short length of the cases (each should take around an hour to complete) suit the pick-up-and-play nature of the console. Add to that some wonderfully whimsical visuals and some kooky sound design that fits the tone of the adventure perfectly, and you’ll quickly find that The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark really is a great little release.
The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark offers another weird but wonderful spooky set of mysteries for point-and-click fans to unravel. It’s a lot simpler in design when compared to similar releases in the genre, but certainly doesn’t lack ingenuity as far as its puzzle design is concerned. The writing is top-notch throughout too and I genuinely found myself laughing out loud at times… what more could you want?
The simplicity of the gameplay might not always appeal to hardcore point-and-click enthusiasts and one or two puzzles could be a little bit TOO out there, but it doesn’t stop The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark from offering a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. They may be a pair of fools, but I can’t wait to spend more time with Detective McQueen and Officer Dooley.