The Happy Crappy Gamer: Darkest of Days
In my apartment there’s a kitchen. In that kitchen there’s a table. Above that table hangs a poster. The poster is for a video game. A video game that’s dear to my heart, a video game that most people haven’t played, a video game that’s probably one of the worst shooters of this generation, maybe even of all time. Ladies and gentlemen, I, The Happy Crappy Gamer, proudly present to you, Darkest of Days.
I think the best place to start is with the “Muscles from Brussels” himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme. I know what you’re thinking, what does a video game and Jean-Claude Van Damme have in common, other than Street Fighter: The Movie and the arcade game? Timecop. That’s right, I’m talking about the 1994 film starring Mr. Van Damme as a time cop. The opening scene from that movie always stands out in my mind; it starts with a group of soldiers riding down a rain-soaked path when they’re halted by a man from the future in need of some serious dental work blocking their path.
The man says he knows they’re transporting gold and that he would be “much obliged” to get that gold. Guns are drawn and the man is threatened with death if he does not move, but before the soldiers have a chance to fire a single round, the man pulls two Tec-9 guns from his trench coat and blasts the soldiers away with extreme prejudice. The film to me presented an interesting question about time travel, and more importantly, who would police it. Now imagine my surprise and excitement when I stumbled upon Darkest of Days.
In the game you get to play as Alexander Morris, a soldier plucked from the Battle of Little Big Horn by Kronotek, an organization that developed time travel with the help of Dr. Koell and now polices it, kind of like the plot to Timecop, except without mullets or Sloane Peterson. You team up with Agent Dexter who is consistently dropping words of wisdom like “It’ll get you killed faster than shit through a goose” or “You’re our last best chance to keep history intact, so no pressure.” Anyway you and your hetero-life mate Agent Dexter travel through different time periods, searching for these two guys named Welsh and Petrovich.
You’d think working for an organization from the future would have some sweet futuristic weapons. It does, but you don’t get to use them that often. To preserve history and keep it authentic, you get to use weapons from the respective era you travel to (how awesome is that?). So that means you’re using weapons like a Springfield Musket, The Morgan James Rifle, or The Henry Repeater Rifle, but on occasion you do get use modern weapons in the form of an AMP 60 or AR-55.
If guns aren’t your thing, you can also use your fists because you can one punch everyone in the game. Apparently you hit as hard as Ali and Tyson combined. It’s a blast to run around the battlefield punching the crap out of anybody that gets in your way. I love the game’s mechanics as well; they just feel right on the controller and translate well into the game. It’s a blast to experience real time jamming when trying to reload your weapon or not having a toggle for crouching. I also applauded the NPCs in the game for their realistic fighting tactics. Seriously they’re like ninjas sometimes; these clever NPCs like to hide behind rocks or in the bushes, so be careful. The best is when you’re on the battlefield getting shot at, not knowing where the bullets are coming from, and you turn around to run for cover except there’s a guy standing there, staring at you dead in the face. Next thing you know that precious face is now stabbing you with a bayonet.
One of my favorite parts of the game is towards the end when you’re chasing Dr. Koell (spoiler: he’s actually the villain) through Pompeii, which we all know was buried when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. As ash is falling everywhere during the eruption, you’re being attacked by Roman soldiers armed with wicker shields, wooden spears, and steel swords. This time around your life partner comes through; you get to deliver a futuristic bitch slap by firing a near limitless amount of bullets from your AR-55. It’s ever so satisfying to shoot the crap out of the charging soldiers who think their shields can stop wave after wave of bullets.
I loved this video game the minute I started it. I loved using the period weapons, the occasional futuristic weapons, the story, Agent Dexter, the Civil War, punching people, and everything else. But what I really, truly loved about this game happened accidently early on in the campaign. During one particular Civil War battle I found myself being overwhelmed by the enemy and since reloading was difficult, I decided to punch my way out. I started punching everything that came at me, even the men on horseback that rode by and shot at me, and that’s when it happened. As I was punching wildly at the men on horseback, I connected a punch on a horse and brought it right to the ground. Not the rider, the horse. As soon as the horse went down I received that familiar chiming sound of an achievement being obtained, an achievement called “The Horse Puncher.” You get an achievement for punching a horse in the face and killing it. It’s arguably the greatest achievement ever and gaming scholars will debate about it for years.
8 Monkey Labs, you had me at horse puncher. Achievement unlocked for a job well done on this masterpiece of time traveling tomfoolery.
The Happy Crappy Gamer