Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 35
  2. Negative: 1 out of 35
  1. I was completely sucked in. I couldn’t stop playing. By the end I wanted more. I wanted to be Jackie Estacado. I wanted to find out what happens next.
  2. The Darkness isn’t all that long and clocks in at about 10 hours, but it feels fresh the entire way through and doesn’t overstay its welcome.
  3. 91
    The Darkness combines the best bits of mafia and war films, producing one complete, intriguing experience...Few licensed games go beyond the realms of their source material, but The Darkness does it in a fun, gritty and engaging way. [Issue#154, p.62]
  4. The Darkness is brutal in its violence, language, and dark tone. [Aug 2007, p.70]
  5. I love it when I feel like a game has shown me something new. [Aug 2007, p.66]
  6. The Darkness is a meaty, emotional, visceral experience that few games will ever be able to match. Starbreeze's next-gen debut hits on some many levels that we're almost scared to think of what they'll do next.
  7. 90
    It also feels like a more polished game, and the base mechanics work extremely well by the time you reach the end of the single-player campaign. It doesn't quite have "Riddick's" pacing, due to the open city that asks you to find your own way through, but it presents a better feeling of accomplishment and familiarity by the end.
  8. It's rare to play an FPS with gameplay this creative and exciting. [Vol 3, Issue 2, p.54]
  9. Interactive storytelling is rarely this good, and there are few game endings that make you sit back and think, “Man, what if I did this instead?” like this one does. For its amazing narrative and believability of characters, and the twisted joys that come from being a slave of a demon, The Darkness will keep you enthralled, even when the gameplay lags a little behind.
  10. Part of The Darkness’s charm is its wealth of extravagant, often irrelevant detail.
  11. For all its drawbacks and shortcomings, this title makes good on its initial promise - seen right at the start - to deliver a unique and beautifully paced action quest. If only they would've built on the superb foundation just a bit more.
  12. The Darkness offers up just about everything we have come to desire in a FPS and has wrapped the package up nicely with a few neat touches of its own.
  13. A remarkable action game that tells a compelling story from start to finish.
  14. The Darkness is a deep FPS game, giving you a nice world to explore and great Darkness powers to use. The controls are a little sluggish, however, and the AI leaves a little bit to be desired.
  15. 85
    A fantastic game with an engaging story that only manages to slip up towards the end.
  16. Its story is one of the most interesting and engaging stories (albeit dark) that I've ever seen in a video game.
  17. The Darkness is truly a brilliant ray of light during this otherwise abysmal summer gaming drought.
  18. It’s like a great amusement park ride: fun while it lasts. But peel off that shiny paint and pause the adrenaline rush and you see there are some core problems hiding in the shadows, like underlying structure and play that just don’t completely congeal. Even so, it’s a hell of a ride, and it’s hard not to be forgiving and embrace this darkness.
  19. Not without flaws, but dripping with atmosphere and filled with 'whoa' moments. [Aug 2007, p.74]
  20. If you're looking for a tactical shooter or a horror game that makes you soil your pants then you should probably look elsewhere. But if you are happy with a cool first person shooter with a great gritty plot and some fun horror and supernatural elements then you'll be very happy that you plunged into The Darkness.
  21. The game looks gorgeous, featuring dark, seedy locales and superb special effects. The gallons of blood. The tentacle detail. The characters. It's without question one of the best looking video games...That notwithstanding, it's not the deepest of adventures.
  22. Keeping the "set" locations small allows for some impressive and immersive detail--throw in quality script and voice acting, and the whole experience is compelling enough (and very well paced) to transcend its brief playtime. [Aug 2007, p.74]
  23. It's a very intense game in more ways than one. There is gore galore and foul language liberally spoken. The story is solid and adds to the action of the game. But it maybe just too intense and spooky for some.
  24. 80
    It's the closest thing we've seen to an HD-gen "Silent Hill," except that in The Darkness you get to play as that venerable franchise's ultimate evil monstrosity, Pyramid Head, clothed in the flesh of a mafia hit man.
  25. 77
    It's too bad that the AI and gameplay mechanics couldn't be smoothed out a bit more to match the impressive visual presentation.
  26. There is a good game in here, but it's too bad that the AI and gameplay mechanics weren't as impressive as the deep story line.
  27. The gorgeous visuals, incredible atmosphere, unique subject matter and immense production values are let down, and ultimately made redundant, by the abysmal pacing, sloppy design and criminal lack of length. [Aug 2007, p.60]
  28. Fans of the series are in the position of seeing a game that is an enhancement, rather than an exploitation, of its source material – and fans of the FPS have another good example of the genre to add to their busy schedules. [Aug 2007, p.86]
  29. Despite offering a significantly compelling single-player story, there's little to keep you coming back once it's been completed.
  30. The handicapped shooting elements, the inconsequential mini-games, and the lack of connection between them will probably turn off diehard shooter fans. It’s not the biggest game, nor the most technical, but it is original—absurd and effective despite its faults.
  31. The back-and-forth structure is tedious, and the narrative needed to be much more fleshed-out. Too bad great loading-screen treatments can't make up for overall shortcomings.
  32. While Starbreeze have brought their customary expertise graphically, so many other aspects of The Darkness are sadly lacking.
  33. Most of the time this feels like a clutter of poorly executed ideas held together with little more than good intentions. [Aug 2007, p.96]
  34. The Darkness is an overreaching, frequently clumsy genre hybrid with moments of brilliance.
  35. 40
    I was looking forward to it, but left very disappointed. It’s completely playable. Being about 7 hours long helps but I spent the entire game waiting for it to get good, to make sense, to make a case for all the incongruous elements of design, gameplay and story, and then it ended.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 79 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 27
  2. Negative: 4 out of 27
  1. Jun 7, 2011
    I've just started re-playing this again after watching the review for the second game (it's been three years already...wowzers!) and I forgot how much I enjoyed it. I guess it's like a lot of things in life - it's an acquired taste that you have to have for it. It was one of the first games I bought for my PS3 and I was a little worried that I wouldn't enjoy it because of the FPS gameplay but I was wrong (I actually can't stand FPS games on a console...especially games like COD - strange huh?). The graphics were seriously awesome and the exploration and side quests were fun too (sure a bit slow sometimes but I was enjoying it so who cares). I remember playing it initially and thinking "damn it's not over yet - YES!" and then when it ended I was upset and cursed at how short it was. Tonight through till Friday I'll be replaying this fantastic little gem that I'll never get rid of (unless the second one is better :p) so let's see if I can finish it again before inFamous 2 comes along. Full Review »
  2. Jul 11, 2012
    I also agree with JasonH. If it were not for that gameplay-because the story is quite interesting, this could have gotten a higher rating from me. Only played it to play sequel, now not sure anymore. Full Review »
  3. Feb 15, 2014

    The Darkness is quite possibly the best example of immersion in video games ever seen. Once you're sucked in, it won't pull its
    tendrils out of you, and I wouldn't want it any other way. From exploring the beautifully rendered New York, to taking the subways, to just watching entire movies on televisions simply because that's your prerogative, The Darkness does a lot to bring you into its world with astounding success.

    Outstanding immersion isn't all that's here, though. The Darkness is a video game, after all, and it's a damn good one. You take the role of Jackie Estacado; a tough guy mobster, with a sense of humor, and by the game's end, some serious issues. On the night of his 21st birthday, his mob boss uncle Paulie decides the world would be a better place without him in it, and attempts to assassinate Jackie. Things don't go according to plan, however, and that's where this game's narrative picks up. After an ancient being awakens to possess him and give him powers, of course.

    Enter The titular Darkness. A being as old as time that takes hold of Jackie and refuses to let go. It's initially unknown to Jackie why this being has decided to use him as its host, but spending time through the lengthy campaign will reveal the truth to Jackie, parallel to his attempts at exacting his justifiable revenge.

    The character of The Darkness is a wonderfully eerie one, and a sight to behold. I've never seen anything quite like it achieved in an FPS game, and the mechanics working around it are implemented wonderfully. With The Darkness as your possessor, you gain powers to aid you in battle and exploration, along with the interesting gun-play. Jackie moves slowly across the screen in comparison to other action games, but this was done for the sake of realism. He doesn't sprint across the screen at 200mph, ala Doom or Vice City, and for what the game is trying to achieve, it works out well, though it can sometimes make exploration feel as if it's dragging on a tad bit too long. The gun-play is also heavily aim assisted, to the point where headshots are more commonplace than anything else you'll achieve by shooting the relatively small arsenal of weapons, but Call of Duty this game is not, and it never aimed to be. The Darkness isn't about its shooting mechanics. It's about its narrative and the adventure you partake in.

    The Darkness powers lend themselves well to different strategies you can implement throughout the 12 to 16 hour campaign. You can creep around as Darkness manifested tendrils from a third person view to get the element of surprise on your enemies to achieve stealth kills, or to solve intelligently designed puzzles. After any kill you achieve, it's strongly advised that you (brace yourself for this one) press a button to eat your enemy's hearts. This. Is. Awesome. It also has a couple of useful benefits, such as increasing how long you can use certain Darkness powers, or even gaining new ones.

    You also have the ability to rip through space/time to summon black holes, that swallow enemies at the cost of a lot of the Darkness' power. It's a great dynamic, as it's strongly advised to always keep your Darkness tendrils out during combat, as they not only give you the ability to use these powers, but act as a shield, effectively giving you the ability to sustain much more damage than you normally would.

    Along with these black holes, creeping around, and other Darkness powers come amazing visual effects for the time. From screen distortion, to an almost cel-shaded lighting effect when you're enveloped in Darkness (something that's also strongly advised, so be prepared to obsessively shoot out every last light you see in the game) the game is certainly no visual slouch. The motion captured actors and rag-doll physics certainly don't hurt either. This is one of the single best looking games that came from the mighty 2007 gaming year, and the atmosphere shines through these visuals.

    The game constantly feels dark and cold. Quite appropriate, given the subject matter. Cold color tones were used to great effect, people move realistically with convincing weight distribution and animation, their faces can appear worn and worrisome. It's a dreary game, and this tone never lets up. Rather than questioning this design choice, it absolutely ended up immersing me even more into this game's world.

    The sound design isn't lacking either. You'll hear everything from a range of hardcore metal tracks to melodic, mood setting, ambient tracks. The sound effects are appropriately gruesome, and the voice acting is top-notch. In fact, the voice work in this game, at least for its time, was probably the best around, as the actors used play their parts perfectly.

    The Darkness is a dreary FPS adventure, with a strong focus on narrative and atmosphere. It succeeds in most everything it tries to do, and I would recommend this title to anyone. It's a shame it's as overlooked as it is. I consider it perfect.
    Full Review »