Despite all of the vivid scenery, there is still darkness creeping from the ground.
Initially released on March 1 by game developer Sirhaian, When the Darkness Comes is an indie adventure game that steps outside the boundaries of the experience of an average, everyday game. The main point of the game is to, of course, get to the finish line; however, the fearful and unpredictable levels within the chapters can make that a challenge to the player. Though this game could be classified as a simple walking simulator, it attempts to create an illustration of the creator’s hardships in just fourteen chapters of gameplay that leave a lasting impression on its players.
Overall, When the Darkness Comes is well worth playing through with its delightful yet sad storyline, as well as clever surprises at every turn. Despite its resemblance to a game of the same genre, The Stanley Parable, When the Darkness Comes comes with a unique, recurring theme: find the light in the darkness. First off, the game starts with an ending. As the narrator talks and gives directions to the player in the prologue, the player is stuck in a room with nowhere to go. Although there’s a trapped feel with cameras everywhere the player goes in the beginning, the scenery turns into something beautiful, such as a light path and a pink field, to something creepy and mysterious, like a darkened courtyard within the confines of a school. With scenic differences and atmospheres, the narrator can tell his story through most of it. After the narrator stops, the player is left to explore the imaginary levels of twists and turns made specifically for the game. The various chapters were never seen in games prior, with most of them being left unfinished or with an ambient atmosphere that is sure to give the player a small fear for what could possibly happen. In games with an exploration genre, all levels are complete, not leaving the player with an imagination for what it would be like if it was finished and full of life, hence the unfinished levels. As such, it is like an outlet for creativity, specifically intended for the player.
Furthermore, When the Darkness Comes is a game that focuses mainly on the choices and thoughts that the player may have, resulting in everyday concepts having significance in unconventional ways. For instance, time is an abundant and recurring subject. In small parts of the chapters, time is objectified as clocks, to symbolize that a person cannot run away from time easily, from people not having time to talk, or if there is not enough time to fulfill a task, schoolwork being a prime example. With the symbolism of the objects being apparent within the chapters, it causes the player to think and make theories about what it could mean and its significance in that specific chapter, such as the colorful forest found in one part of the beginning chapters.
Despite all of the symbolism and overall story, Sirhaian reiterates that the game does not have a meaning, until the end. The ending notes instead say that it is ultimately the player’s choice to decipher the whole meaning of the game, continuing the secondary theme, which is choice. Many of the player’s actions are choices within the game, whether it be jumping off of the map out of curiosity or going somewhere other than where the game says to go. Usually, when there are choices, there are several consequences, but in the varying worlds, the only consequence is restarting the chapter to relive what the player has gone through before their initial restart. While the game uses a lot of the player’s creativity, it also makes use of the logical side of the mind. Depending on which choice is made, it could trigger one out of many possibilities for the next event, as well as earning an achievement for that choice is some cases.
Ultimately, When the Darkness Comes is a deep and meaningful game, despite the bright beginnings. From the surface, it may seem like an ordinary exploration indie, with choices at every turn. But with this game, going into the light may be the only choice there could be sometimes.