Since our new writer Henshin A Go Joe wrote about why he wouldn't ever sell his copy of The Darkness, I've been going back in my head why I liked that game as well. It probably helps that I keep a journal with notes on games I've played, and that I wrote about it on my own blog two years ago, and in looking back, I remembered.
First, there's the genre of the game. While it is an FPS, I dare say it's a neighbor to the horror genre. Which is not to say that you in particular are the one being scared, or that the game is attempting to frighten you. No, in a similar way that Dead Space never actually caused me to jump or be frightened in any way, it still has those elements which do well to create a horrific atmosphere.
No, what struck me about this game was that other characters were frightened of the protagonist, Jackie Estacado. He is very much depicted as an anti-hero in many sense, his goals and grudges being his own, and not about saving the world, necessarily. In that sense, it's also akin to a mobster game, though in general tone (again, as with the horror sense). However, one can only hear the peons you devour with your dark abilities scream in terrified voices how monstrous you are so many times before it becomes old-hat (and someday it won't be this way, though if Splinter Cell: Conviction is anything by which to go, we're not clear of that territory as yet).
No, for me, the particularly poignant moments in that game came with the two moments you share with your girlfriend.
You visit Jenny in her apartment actually, and as Henshin A Go Joe mentioned, you have the ability to watch the entirety of To Kill a Mockingbird with her if you so will. I was curious, so I sat down and watched as long as I could. I was curious to see how long the game would just let me watch this movie, and when it became apparent that it would continue going, my mind shifted to wondering whether there was some point, some reward, or some addition to the story if I continued. Ultimately, I grew impatient and bid her goodnight, but it was an interesting moment that caused me to question how I would normally play such a game.
While I'm not a fan of cutscenes for the most part, I do often watch them in their entirety, never being able to skip them until I've watched them at least once. Which is why the next scene with her was curious to me. Half-Life 2 is often lauded for never taking control from the character, Gordon Freeman always being able to walk or look around when people are speaking to him. The Darkness plays with this convention in the next scene you share with Jenny, which is a stark counterpart to the scene I just mentioned. Here's the video of the events:
The scene garnered two responses from me. The first was again being resentful and more cautious about the very being that gave me the powers I had in game. Being the type of gamer I am, it made me reconsider how often I used the powers The Darkness gave me, and altered the way I played the game. The powers I had for use in the general game were forcing me to watch something over which I had no control, both giving an excuse for the cutscene shown and made me all the more keen about getting to the bottom of its control.
On the other hand, it reminded me of how while I enjoyed this game, the comic from which it stems has been one with which I've had a love/hate relationship. The women in refrigerator syndrome the above scene depicts didn't sit too horribly well with me, especially as this game is based on a comic series, from which that trope stems.
Therefore, while I claimed to not often be a fan of the cutscene, I do believe it still has uses in games that can be explored in terms of control and interaction--when done properly. This was one of those moments.
Any particular cutscenes with which you've had a similar experience?