The Dark Room Early Access Impressions

YOU AWAKE TO FIND YOURSELF IN EARLY ACCESS…wait, that’s not right

John Robertson’s The Dark Room started life in 2012 as an interactive YouTube series, inspired by the brutally hard text adventures of the 1980’s. It then morphed into the worlds first interactive live-action video game that has become the staple of comedy festivals and gaming expos. Now, it has become an actual video game that has been released onto Steam Early Access.

I didn’t play many text adventures growing up, I had too little patience for their ludicrously hard, unforgiving and often painfully obtuse solutions. I do remember playing the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy one and I was proud just to make it out of the bedroom at the start, I never made it any further. So why, you may ask, have I decided to play John Robertson’s The Dark Room? Well one,m I think my editor hates me (Shut up and get back to work – ed.) and 2 I’m a big fan of the live show and have reviewed it for this site here. The thought of being berated by John Robertson in the comfort of my own home appealed to me somewhat so I dived right in.

THIS GAME IS HARD. I mean unsurprisingly so but it’s not for the easily frustrated, if you’ve seen the live show you’ll know what to expect, you have 4 options to choose from to progress and the object of the game is to escape The Dark Room, sometimes the options seem simple, Go North, Check Pockets etc. but it never is, regardless of what you choose. The Guardian, the digitised avatar of John Robertson, will berate and insult every choice you make. Make the right one and you progress, make the wrong one and ‘Ya Die, Ya Die, Ya Die, Ya Die’. You will die, A LOT, over and over again, sometimes you’ll need to start from the start, other times you’ll have reached a checkpoint and you can start again from there.

I eventually stumbled and fumbled my way out of Level One and the end of what is available in Early Access, they are adding more levels as they progress in early access but so far only level one is available. From what I could tell I escaped but not in the best way, given I was carrying a dead dog and was terminally radioactive, so there appears to be multiple ways out of even level one. I encountered a few bugs along the way a couple of crash to desktop Fatal Errors, which they are working on fixing and a few times when the audio of what was being said didn’t match up to what The Guardian was saying on screen, but these bugs were minor and to be expected in an Early Access game, the developers are patching regularly and are working on fixing bugs as they appear.

This was fun, albeit very difficult and a little short. You’ll end up starting from scratch multiple times and hearing the same dialogue quite often, as it progresses however this should be one to watch and as more content is added will probably be worth your time. The plan for the time being is that the Early Access mode is to last only 3 months, so maybe wait till the full release then pick it up. If you do purchase the Early Access mode, you are entitled to the other levels as they are developed and released. And if a fan of John Robertson or The Dark Room. then it is worth grabbing now and showing your support to what is an indie title. We will have a full review up when it escapes out of Early Access.

Euan Tennant

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