Review: A Walk In The Dark

When it comes to platformers we are hardly spoiled for choice so when a game does come out, it has to work hard to differentiate itself from the mass of other titles vying for your attention. Thankfully, Flying Turtle Software’s A Walk in the Dark certainly manages that, and they have created a platform caper wrapped around an eye-catching art style which gives it instant appeal.

The game opens with the player taking control of a sleek feline called Bast, who is silhouetted against an ethereal forest backdrop. Birds chirrup in the background, while bold piano plays along giving the game a dream-like quality which draws you slowly in. A Walk in the Dark is a platformer which is heavily focused on speedruns. While simply making it to the end of a level will be more than enough for some, the levels are timed, encouraging repeated playthroughs to fine tune your runs. Even if this aspect doesn’t interest you, A Walk in the Dark features 100 levels – with a secret sparkling mote of light to find on ever level – so you’re definitely getting a lot of game for you hard-earned cash.

Standard platform trappings are present and correct, with obligatory wall leaps, nimble acts of dexterity, spike pits, crumbling platforms and saw blades all thrown into the mix to keep the player on their toes. But just when you think that’s all A Walk in the Dark has to offer, things get much more interesting as you get deeper under its skin. Bast the cat isn’t the only character in the game – he is eventually joined by Arielle, a little girl who can turn the dark and dreamlike world on its head by her gravity defying antics.

These clockwork themed levels have a similar feel to those seen in Terry Cavanagh’s wonderful VVVVVV, with Arielle’s leaps sending her pirouetting on to the ceiling which changes the pace and feel of the game. A Walk in the Dark constantly flits between the two characters and introduces fresh twists along the way, such as endless runner-style levels which test your dexterity as Bast charges through devious levels full of nightmares.

There’s even a touch of Super Meat Boy’s DNA in the mix and although death doesn’t come along quite as much as in Team Meat’s classic, some levels are reduced to trial and error. Thankfully, when you do die, you are whisked back to the start instantly – no loading screen, no messing about, which allows the player to jump straight back into the action.
A Walk in the Dark is best played in short sessions, as familiar elements start to repeat and frustration does start to creep in as the levels become ever more complicated. That said, this is a game definitely worth your time. Its art style might be the reason you take a closer look, but once it gets it’s claws into you, it’s easy to fall under its dark and enchanting spell.

Kilted Moose

I'm Scott Munro - former games columnist at the Scottish Daily Record. In 2010, I was shortlisted for Regional Games Columnist of the Year at the Games Media Awards. I've also scribbled words for IGN UK, Game People and the Sunday Mirror's games page.