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Studio: Parallel Studio
Type: Puzzle / Point and Click
Price : 7.99$
Length: Medium
Control: Touchpad / Controller supported
Language : English / French (France) / Chinese* (China) / Korean / German / Spanish (Mexico)
*Probably Mandarin

*Spoiler Free review*
Dark Days is an escape room game where you have to solve small puzzles to escape the room you are stuck in, to find yourself in another room you have to escape. It is strongly focused on the story and the mysteries behind the events unfolding in the game. Parallel Studio managed to make this a success not only by adding an original story to it, but also by adding elements of fear, such as a creature that can kill you.  The game is available in several spoken language and I can say that both English and French have good voice acting expressing emotions throughout the different characters you will meet.You play the role of Jade Lacroix, a writer looking for inspiration for her next book.  After some strange occurring on the road, she ends up in a shady motel where she learns about the disappearance of Crystal Huygens, a young woman traveling with the ashes of her deceased mother.  The event unfolds in a way that forces you to investigate and figure out what happened to her.  You get to have two different, while quite similar endings that will leave you in hope of a Dark Days sequel.

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Where Parallel Studio really nailed it is imposing the dark ambiance of fear. I first felt uneasy in the motel, but I did not know why. When I focused on the environment, I noticed a few disturbing elements. The paintings, for example, are quite unpleasant to watch. In fact, at some point I tried to move along without having to look directly at them.  In addition to a character that is fearful of the empty, the death and the loneliness, you can feel it throughout her narration.  The creature following you is also a good addition to the gameplay and brings forward a behavior we all do when we fear something.  When it is lurking around, you can still move, but you have to make sure not to look at it or it will come right at you.  The sound and music, composed by talented Nicolas Bredin, is also well implemented in the game. Parallel Studio and Nicolas decided to release the sound track for free here: https://nicolasbredin.bandcamp.com/releases

paintings

Dark Days gameplay is fairly simple, it’s a point and click environment. Note that you need to be able to look all around as you can’t turn the character even with a controller.  Each room, or environment in fact (rooms are not always a single room) has a set of different hotspot you can teleport to.  From each spot, you have a many things you can do or watch to get clues on how to get out.  You can also crouch, revealing hidden objects.  Having played around more than once, key objects are placed randomly each time, adding a little more to replay value and making it a little more difficult to just giveaway the walkthrough to someone.  Puzzles varies from finding a single key to getting items to interact with other objects and unveils a darkest story than anticipated.  With the many places objects can be hidden, it’s often more a question of finding what you are looking for, than understanding what to do. In addition, hidden audio rolls are scattered around for you to find. 20 of them to be exact and each one can be played from the menu to reveal even more from the story that is revealed during the game.  During gamplay, I discovered a mechanic that really adds to the immersion, but might also help in finding hidden clues : Tilting your head.  It lets you peak a little more around corners, or under tables and chairs, just like it would in real life.  For example, here is the difference at looking straight and tilting my head to the right.

tilting
Graphics and texture might not be of the highest quality, but they sure looks great.  Rooms and environments don’t feel generic.  Even from the beginning, when in the Motel lobby, I felt there was a world around me. Just the fact that I could watch outside the window and see the phone booth by the end of the road felt just right.  From the motel rooms, the laundry room, the desert and an old trailer, many areas were well designed to allow exploring and looking at every single corner to find clues and tools to progress.  The characters are also credible in the way they move and speak.

Each episode should take about 30 minutes to complete, but knowing what to do when replaying them made it possible to achieve them in less than 15 minutes. There are a total of 5 episodes leading to the story’s climax.  Jade’s story is told both by flashbacks and narration. To be able to really feel the characters, I recommend looking at everything as she often adds personal elements to her remarks on the object you just looked at. In the end, it felt a bit short because I really enjoyed the game and the story and I wish I learned more about pretty much everything in the game.  Even then, it is one of the longest game you can get on the Gear VR right now.  Looking for all hidden tapes should add one or two extra hours to the gameplay and you might even find yourself enjoying it enough to go wander around and look more closely to the environment or objects you missed.

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For the latest news on the game and the studio, head to their Facebook Page.

Dark Days : A dark tale about fear
Parallel Studio delivers exactly what it claims, a Narrative Room Escape experience. The narrative is well done, leaving the player the desire to know more at the end of every episode. The room escape is relatively simple, ambiance makes it a dark adventure, so well that it will definitely leave you thinking about your own fears in life. It is clearly a game where efforts were put to deliver a well refined experience.
Gameplay7
Graphics8
Sound9
VR Design9
Value8
Pros
  • Many Languages
  • Immersive story
  • Voice Overs
Cons
  • Easy Puzzles
  • Characters Animations
8.2Overall Score

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Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

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