More Dark review for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4
Also on: PC, Switch, Xbox One
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: HugePixel
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

When a game calls itself retro — or, at the very least, when a game makes a very obvious attempt to look like it came out thirty years ago, as is the case with More Dark — that?s usually code for one thing: it?s super-hard. Yes, it also means pixel graphics and chiptune music and whatnot, but really, it all comes down to trying to punish players.

And sometimes, that?s totally fine. It?s not necessarily my thing, but I totally get that some players like being pushed, and there are plenty of games that manage to be tough-but-fair. They may try and kill you at every turn, but they?re at least balanced enough that you can see why you died every time it happens.

But other times — that is, in a game like More Dark — you don?t die frequently because it?s insanely challenging, you die frequently because the game is built around cheap deaths.

If you?re being generous, I guess, you could euphemistically call a lot of those deaths ?trial and error.? This is a puzzle-platformer, after all, and most of the levels have only one solution, and if you do anything out of order, your only choice is to explode your little pixelated demon and try again. I found it a little frustrating that the game is so restrictive in its solutions, since it takes away the joy of playing around with a level to see what you can do with it, but I?m not going to condemn More Dark outright for that.

What?s a lot harder to take, though, are all the times you die because of iffy design. Your jumps are a little inconsistent in how far and how high you go, which means that sometimes you can cross a gap that?s more than an inch wide, but other times you?ll explode on an environmental hazard. Further, the enemy hit detection is a little hard to figure out, and you can often die if you don?t land on their heads just right. Again, it?s inconsistent, and it drags the game down. Obviously, eventually you come to live with both of these flaws, but there?s a huge gulf between grudgingly accepting a game?s flaws and being able to ignore them because everything else is so great.

More Dark most definitely falls into the former camp: it?s not the worst game in the world, but it?s flawed enough it?s hard to enjoy it. Given all the other retro-flavoured puzzle-platformers out there that don?t feature lousy design choices, you?re probably better off skipping More Dark and playing something else instead.

Ratalaika Games provided us with a More Dark PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: C+