Truth be told, I’d hoped we’d see more VR apps try to swipe Boneworks’ crown by now. After the dizzying three-hit combo it delivered alongside Alyx and Saints & Sinners a year ago, VR seemed ready to embrace a new wave of physics-driven action games.
That hasn’t quite happened. At least not yet. Fortunately for Vietnam-based Cosmos Games, that makes Into The Darkness a welcome refresher no matter how familiar — and scrappy — it may feel.
And, make no mistake about it, this is very familiar. Into The Darkness is, pure and simple, a Boneworks clone, right down to the simplistic enemy AI that mindlessly marches towards you. The Steam Next Fest demo also isn’t quite as polished in this early stage, but it’s still a pretty good replication of what Stress Level Zero originally achieved; guns must be realistically reloaded, blades have to be thrust with force, and the expected appearance of a crowbar is as much a tool as it as a weapon, letting you snag the edge of higher platforms and climb up it.
All of this we’ve seen before, and the bits of Into The Darkness that aren’t borrowed from Boneworks are lifted from elsewhere, including Gravity Gloves and even a tutorial that mirrors The Walking Dead. But, crucially, all of this is still a lot of fun. Handguns and assault rifles are fine and all, but the real joy of Into The Darkness comes from fighting its robotic forces with melee weapons – hooking one around the neck with a crowbar to keep it out of reach and then poking a katana between its eyes, or holding its head in place while you line up your knife. All of that’s here and it’s just as fun as it’s ever been.
But it also needs plenty of work. The SteamVR demo features a lot of narration and there are a lot of mistakes in the game’s English that need to be cleaned up before release. Some interactions also need a touch more work; climbing a ladder feels spongey and strange, like your arms are elasticated, for example.
Even if those issues are addressed, though, what I’m not expecting Into The Darkness to really do, though, is push any of this further forward than we’ve already seen. All of its ideas, from physical platforming to puzzles that play by the real world’s rules, are taken directly from other sources without anything new to add to them. Granted this is just a small slice of the game, but nothing I’ve seen some other trailers and videos suggests it has aspirations any higher than imitation.
Right now, though? That might be enough. I’ve really missed VR experiences that strive to bring your whole body into their world, and Into The Darkness certainly does that. I’ll gladly hack and clamber my way through its PC VR campaign when it launches later this year, even if I doubt I’ll shake that distinct feeling of deja vu.
Into The Darkness releases on SteamVR later in 2021. What do you think about the game? Let us know in the comments below!