DARQ – Inescapable Lucid Nightmares

This game I bought from the Lunar New Year Sale this year and it was something I was uncertain about for a while. When I finally played it I realized it was shorter than I thought but the visuals and audio are well done for a solo developer.

It’s a game about a boy named Lloyd who is trapped in a lucid dream where he can traverse literally anywhere, defying the laws of physics. He can walk on walls and ceilings and rotate rooms completely to navigate the terrain. But the dream quickly becomes a nightmare at the presence of strange enemies and a little bagheaded boy running in and out of the darkness.

There’s lots of puzzles to solve in this game. Some are easy and others, not so much like the puzzles on the train chapter I hated the most. For example, with the dynamite and wires and the maze with the game camera rotating forcing me to move the pointer blindly, while also under the stress of the wheelchair-bound enemy approaching my position with each rotation.

But there are also elements that are very relatelable to what I experience in my own dreams like the signs that keep changing, unusual enemies like the trumpet-head in the wheelchair, walking on walls, etc. Running from something and then walking or flying into light or darkness that makes me wake up.

One of the flying dreams I had ended with me ascending into the stratosphere where it became darker and I woke up so that definitely felt lucid to me.

So what was the meaning behind Lloyd’s dream? I don’t know, but I feel the lady in the wheelchair might have something to do with it.

The game also has two free DLCs so I’ll cover them quickly.

The Tower

This one was rather creepy with the shifting worlds between the tower itself and the insides of something like a monster. I thought everything was fine as I collected the severed heads to open the doorway until the guillotine at the very end. I’ve had dreams before about transforming the environment around me but nothing like this. God I hope I never have a dream that results in beheading.

The Crypt

This DLC was okay, creepy atmosphere, but the time-based puzzles were really starting to get on my nerves like guiding the skull to the other side of the room and constantly switching back and forth between Lloyd’s body and head just to get something to the other side before it runs off course. But the way it ends makes me wonder if the reason Lloyd couldn’t wake up from these dreams was that he’s been dead all along? I don’t know, the whole game is really cryptic about it.

Aside from that and my dislike for the puzzles in this DLC. This brings me to the biggest gripe I have about this game. The puzzles in the Crypt just got to a point where I got tired of them and just wanted to be done. I knew I couldn’t stop playing because if I did then I would have to restart the ENTIRE DLC over again from the beginning because there is no save feature midway. So, this game forces me to go through it and keep trying, or quit and take a break but have to start the whole chapter over again which I do not like.

I mean hey, the DLCs are free which is great, the developer of this game sounds like a nice person who interacts with the community, and the game as a whole is unique and eerie at its best. But it is not without its flaws.

Rating: 3 out of 5.



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