First-Person Shooters are a dime a dozen these days. Call of Duty, Halo, The Orange Box, Resistance. You can’t walk into a game store with slamming face first into a dozen FPS games, so announcing a new FPS title will probably be met with a resounding “meh” unless something about the title screams innovation or originality. And such seems to be the case for PhantomEFX’s Darkest of Days.
While the game itself seems to be your standard FPS war game at first glance, Phantom EFX and developer 8monkey Studios have designed an interesting time-traveling war game. The game begins at the Battle of Little Bighorn, where the player takes command of soldier Alexander Morris. After a grisly battle, in which Morris is nearly killed, he is ripped from the battlefield and transported into the future by time agents, who offer save his life on the condition that he work for them.
The overarching plot of the game centers around time agents from the future, who have begun noticing that somebody is going into wars of the past and killing soldiers who were supposed to have survived in an attempt to change the future. The time-travelers the main character represents are attempting to stop that, taking soldiers who were listed as MIA (missing-in-action) and bringing them into the future, building an army to stop enemy time agents from killing war survivors.
This part of the plot plays into the core gameplay of Darkest of Days. Your aim is not only to fight, but to ensure that those meant to survive the battle do indeed survive. Soldiers who are supposed to survive are marked by a blue aura. While killing one or letting one die may not affect things too drastically, killing enough will enable enemy time agents to lock onto your location, freezing time as the appear to take you out. Also, as you are sent to many historical battles, drastically changing the outcome of the battle will cause a change in history, causing the player to have to go back and fix things, presumably from the other side of the battle.
Also, aside from just participating in historical battles, the landscapes you are dropped into also allow for a certain level of exploration, which is rewarded by being given futuristic weaponry from other time-traveling allies you may come across. The only downside with futuristic weaponry is that, although it is quite powerful, its ammo will be limited. And, perhaps, this is for the best.
While we seen time-travel First-Person Shooters in the past, TimeSplitters comes to mind, the whole aura system and need to preserve the past. According to Aaron Schurman of Phantom EFX, historical accuracy is something that the developers were striving for when developing Darkest of Days. The game itself spans several historical battles, such as the aforementioned Battle of Little Bighorn and the Battle of Antietem, as well as the practically mandatory World War II level, taking the player on a trip through humanity’s darkest days, hence the game’s title. 8monkey Studio’s newly developed Marmoset engine was specifically designed to handle 300 characters onscreen once in order to provide massive battles for the player to partake in.
The game is set to launch next month on September 8th on Xbox 360 and PC. Sorry PS3 owners, but it seems you won’t be getting this one. Till then, this game definitely seems interesting. Can’t wait to see what it’s like.