DARQ Ultimate Edition Switch Review – It’s Getting DARQ

Not had a chance to delve into Lloyd's world just yet? Give DARQ Ultimate Edition a whirl on the Nintend Switch.

Don’t adjust the brightness settings; this is DARQ Ultimate Edition for the Switch. It’s meant to be like this, and man is it good. Initially launched in Year One, or some other distant past, Feardemic have since released Unfold Games’ puzzle title.

DARQ has been on my radar since it came out, having missed a code the first time and not having the time to ‘play for myself’. However, it was with salivated joy that this special edition arrived in my inbox to cover and, in short, it was worth the time, though I wish I’d played sooner.

As Tim Burton-esque outcast Lloyd, you find yourself in a hellish world where laying down on a mattress will trigger some midnight cheese-induced worlds of terror. It’s all intentionally ambiguous as you attempt to survive and escape this nightmare, solving puzzles. DARQ Ultimate Edition is a short puzzle game that is exceedingly good.

DARQ Ultimate Edition Switch - Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle. Source: PR

DARQ Ultimate Edition Switch Review

Said puzzles typically revolve around finding an item, using that to unlock a new area, picking up another thing, and then backtracking to use in a similar location. It sounds a bit monotonous, and as a side-scrolling game, that goes with the territory. However, the short levels, pacing and superb visuals make this as engaging as the moment you enter the nightmare world.

Lloyd, as a biped, can use both his legs to move around the world, but has a little trick up his sleeve: he can walk up some walls, causing the screen to flip as if you were David Bowie in Labyrinth, waving the finger at gravity and its rules. Activating a switch or two will allow further access to a new area, and walking up another wall will unlock something new. Another cool trick in Lloyd’s repertoire is flicking a switch that projects him up and down vertical gaming planes. That’s a confusing description, but believe me, it’s really effective and just makes the game so moreish.

As noted, DARQ Ultimate Edition is short, and in the base game, there were seven chapters that could be completed in one sitting (if you have a few hours spare). Unlocking hidden extras is a lure and pad out the longevity, but this Ultimate Edition, it includes the DLCs The Tower and The Crypt and a graphic novel called DARQ: Dream Journal. The latter was terrific and really set up the premise for the game. 

DARQ Ultimate Edition Switch - Novel idea
A novel idea. Source: PR

Things Got DARQ…

Arguably, that ambiguity of not knowing much about Lloyd is one of its many charms, but besides adding some closure, it’s a decent story and includes some excellent artwork. It doesn’t take long to read, but I found myself returning to the illustrations and using the shoulder buttons to zoom in on the details. Marvellous.

Again, DARQ Ultimate Edition is a stunning game – both the visuals and ambient sounds (in places, it’s scary too – of the jumpscare variety). Admittedly, I was a bit sceptical about the Switch’s performance, but was proven wrong – it looks and plays great and would have to say it is one of the better-looking games on the platform. But more importantly, the gameplay is excellent, and, from my perspective, the challenges and timed-type puzzles were spot-on and couldn’t have been fine-tuned any better.

Verdict

If you also missed out on DARQ the first time, be it time constraints or not having it on a platform you own, go seek the DARQ Ultimate Edition out. Fans of dark fantasy and decent puzzles and those who like to see an innovative use of gameplay mechanics and storytelling will be in their element.