2Dark

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
2Dark Game Poster Image
Bland stealth game ruined by disturbing, violent plot.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Full of disturbing messages, imagery; includes references to cannibalism, murder, torture of children. Although goal is to rescue children from different serial killers, players can actually cause deaths of those children as well. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although Smith seems heroic in desire to save children, it comes from a dark place based on his personal tragedy. Also, Smith is just as capable of killing as serial killers he's trying to save children from. Occasionally, some non-player characters (NPCs) might seem a bit sympathetic, but they're also still partially responsible for events Smith is trying to prevent.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, but game's difficulty causes frustration. Lots of trial, error, so players will die a lot before figuring out what they've done wrong, need to avoid. Also sometimes difficult to navigate children through different hazards without fatal consequences.

Violence

No shortage of violence, blood, gore, disturbing imagery, made worse by fact that a lot of it is done to children. Aside from bloody, gruesome deaths, scenes of torture, there's blood, body parts strewn all over. Contradictory to visceral content, game's overall style somewhat exaggerated, cartoonish, with a slightly pixelated look. This dulls some impact, but it's still far from suitable for kids.

Sex

No overt nudity; most graphic sexual depiction is cover of an adult magazine found as a clue, which shows a nude woman covering her breasts.

Language

Frequent use of "f--k", "s--tty," "a--hole", more. Plenty of sexual references, including hero calling serial killers "child rapists." Villains use phrases such as "f--k your mother."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to, instances of drinking. Player's character constantly remarks on his need for "a smoke"; player must actually light up, combining his lighter, pack of cigarettes, to save progress.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 2Dark is a downloadable survival horror game. Despite the game's cartoonish style, this is absolutely not a game for kids. It features scenes of violence, blood, gore, and torture, especially involving kids. At one point, the game even implies sexual abuse toward the abducted children. Although the player is tasked with trying to rescue the kids and get them to safety, he can also lead them to their deaths. This is an extremely dark and brutal game, and its dialogue reflects that in blunt and frequent use of profanity. Players even must smoke cigarettes to save their progress in the game.

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What's it about?

2DARK is a game about children, but it's anything but a children's game. Instead, it's the warped tale of one man's fight to stop a murderous crime spree and to free the children of Gloomywood from a collection of strange and disturbing serial killers that have cropped up in the unsuspecting town. For Mr. Smith, the story begins in 1969 when, while on a family camping trip, his wife is brutally murdered and his children are kidnapped, never to be seen again. Now, seven years later, Smith has taken it upon himself to keep other families from experiencing his grief, saving children from death … or, in some cases, a fate even worse. Armed only with a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, his gun, and his wits, Smith dives into the lion's den of some of the worst, twisted minds imaginable. Taking to the shadows, he'll find Gloomywood's missing children and lead them to safety, possibly learning more about the fate of his own children as well. But how long can Smith keep facing down the darkness of the human soul before he risks succumbing to it?

Is it any good?

There's no shortage of games falling squarely into the "not suitable for kids" category, but occasionally some games push even that to its limits. 2Dark, despite its oddly cute and almost whimsical design, is definitely not suitable for children. The disclaimer on the opening screen even warns of "cruel and shocking content." Make no mistake -- 2Dark is a deeply disturbing game. Throughout the course of the story, references are made to fighting against "child rapists," cannibals, and serial killers, while children are shown to be kidnapped, tortured, and sometimes killed. While Smith is capable of fighting his way through some of the bad guys, players are challenged to try to rescue these kids, then lead them away by sneaking around in the shadows without ever resorting to murder. At the start, the kids are more than willing to follow Smith to safety, but on later levels, these kids exhibit a sort of Stockholm syndrome, refusing to leave their captivity and stubbornly fighting against attempts to save their lives. It's a creepy, dark, and skin-crawling premise that can leave players with a lingering sense of dread long after they've stopped playing.

But if you can strip away 2Dark's somewhat sadistic plot and somehow look past it to the actual gameplay, what you're left with is an average, if not bland, stealth game. You'll need to sneak in the shadows, picking up useful tools along the way and trying your best not to draw any attention to yourself. If you're spotted, it's not usually too difficult to run away and hide, but the problem is that the minute you step out of hiding, you're usually going to run right back into what you ran from to start with. On top of this, there are a lot of cheap traps, puzzles, and other obstacles hiding around each corner, most of which you don't learn about until after it's too late. This means a lot of trial and error, made worse by the fact that, unless you've saved the game frequently, you'll likely be forced to restart the entire level. And since you only have one slot to save the game, there's no way to go back and revisit things without resetting the adventure in its entirety. All in all, it makes for a somewhat frustrating experience, brought down even further when you have to view it through the grisly filter of the game's plot. The game itself may not be expensive, but the bill for the therapy you might need after playing it sure won't be cheap.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in entertainment. Are there certain subjects that are too violent or too taboo to be used in games? If so, where does that line get drawn? And if not, what are ways to discuss that content with a younger audience?

  • Talk about ways kids can protect themselves from danger. What should kids do when confronted with strangers? How can they reach out for help, and whom should they reach out to in such a situation?

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