Darklings ($0.99) by MildMania is a unique adventure game that is driven entirely by gestures. If you enjoyed the kind of dark, Burtonesque games in the past like Miseria and Limbo, then you are going to get a kick out of Darklings.
I think it’s the perfect time of year now for these dark little games, so I’m glad to see Darklings as another one to add to the collection. There’s nothing quite like cozying up this winter with a gloomy game and a cup of hot chocolate, right? I love these artistic style titles, as they definitely show off what iOS is capable of in terms of gaming.
The visuals in the game are absolutely beautiful. The entire game is in rich hues of black, gray, and white, and there’s no color at all, but it works. Even though it’s extremely dark, I could make out small details in the character models as well as the environments. And the animations are incredibly smooth, without any lag or choppiness at all. It’s really visual perfection, and I have to give the developer kudos on that. The soundtrack is also quite a treat, as it’s fairly whimsical and soothing at once, almost like something you could fall asleep to.
The gameplay of Darklings is where the game really excels. It’s completely unique, and something you don’t see very often. You are in control of a single, lonely Lum, who must purge the world of the Darklings, the creatures who stole the stars and light, thus bringing darkness all over the world. This is a survival game, where the goal is to see how long you can last while getting as many points as you can.
While you control Lum, you are not able to move back and forth as you would in traditional games. Instead, as Darklings come on to the screen, you will notice that there is a symbol etched in light on each of them. You will need to draw these glyphs with your finger, which will allow the Lum to possess them when successful, which will kill them and release the stars. To collect the stars, trace a line over them and draw a path back to you.
If you can quickly possess multiple Darklings in succession, then you will earn a combo multiplier. There are also various challenges to strive for, like “Get 3 7x combos.” Things start out slow in the beginning, but it picks up fairly quickly, so you have to be on your toes and pay attention to the glyphs on all of them to really succeed in the game. There will also be boss battles, where you will need to draw the glyphs you’ve come across in the order shown on the screen to defeat them. It’s almost like Simon Says, in a way.
While the game only has one game mode at the moment, which is basically survival, you will come across different environments and settings. There are also power-ups that you can obtain (the same way of collecting stars) to help you survive. If you need more boosts, you can use the stars you collect in the shop for various items like star magnets, shields, blasts, and more. As you get farther in the game, you can also come across different costumes for Lum, so players are able to customize their appearance to what they like. The developers have promised more content will be coming in future updates.
The game comes with full iCloud support for game saves, so your progress goes where you go, regardless of device. There is also Game Center integration for leaderboards and achievements to obtain.
I’m really enjoying Darklings so far, as it’s definitely gorgeous, soothing, fast-paced, and has a very distinctive gameplay mechanic. If you’re looking for a fantastic gem of a game this weekend to relax with, then I highly recommend Darklings. You can get it in the App Store as a universal download for $0.99 (50 percent off for two weeks).