The minute I began playing Darklings, I had a lot of questions. What is a Darkling? Where is my character and what on earth is going on? Out of all the iPad games I’ve enjoyed, this was definitely one of the strangest. That isn’t, of course, to suggest that it’s bad – in fact, I found the game surprisingly intuitive once I’d figured out more about the strange character at the bottom of the screen. This $0.99 iPhone/iPad game was created by MildMania, and is definitely on par with dark and quirky games like Limbo. When you load the app, you find yourself in control of a small character called a Lum, and it’s your goal to save him from surrounding monsters that have come to attack. Your character exists in a lonely looking universe where it’s constantly night time, and you’re surrounded by endless models.Adding to the mystery and spooky element of the game is the soundtrack. I immediately noticed the audio of the game when loading, and enjoyed it from the very beginning. Despite the initial confusion over the character and the purpose of the game, the soundtrack was superb and I quickly became engrossed in the story. Your ghostly little character, or ‘Lum’ needs to use his powers to get rid of all the evil Darklings. The dark characters surround your Lum and must be fought off using magical powers.
As you progress through the game, you can also play with new Lums that each has different powers. With your character, your ultimate aim is to survive, reaching new levels and bosses as you progress. The storyline may well be simple, but it’s definitely fun. I was immediately engrossed, not only because I love survival games, but also because I have never seen gameplay like this before. In order to fight off the Darklings, your Lum must replicate the shapes on the heads of each of the evil Darkling characters. I should say, rather, that it is the player that has to replicate the shapes. Here you will find no directional arrows, you won’t navigate through a landscape like a traditional game either – you will have just one role. You will use your finger as if it were a pencil, and trace the shape on the screen, which sees your Lum jump into the character of the related Darkling. You’ll also see stars appearing around your character throughout the game. It’s important that you collect the stars with your finger and draw a line to your Lum. This increases the amount of time you have on the game, and collecting five big stars can give you helpful little extras! If you run out though, as always with inexpensive games, you can purchase more for a small fee from the shop. You can also share your results with your Twitter followers and Facebook friends for new stars.
While it’s definitely intuitive and enjoyable, it’s not the most comfortable way to play the game. If you’re lucky enough to have the current iPad Air, or perhaps even the iPad Mini, you’ll probably fine. If you have an older generation iPad however, then you’ll probably find the game uncomfortable, owing to the extra weight. Unless you’re ambidextrous, you’ll have to keep your iPad in one hand while you draw away with the other – that can be quite tiring after spending some time on the game! I must also be honest about the fights with bosses. While generally the gameplay feels seamless and smooth, it begins to lag a little bit when you’re fighting the bigger Darklings. You’ll probably find yourself drawing your patterns numerous times over before anything registers, which can be quite annoying when you’re counting on a win to progress!
All in all though, I have to rate Darklings quite highly. It’s definitely a welcome new addition to the App Store, and one of the most intuitive games I’ve played in a while. The gameplay is flowing, the soundtrack very nice and visuals are superb. The levels seem endless, you can play different characters and you can enjoy an impressive range of challenges. It’s well worth the small fee of $0.99!
Darklings - $0.99