Gaming Review: Through the Darkest of Times

Review: Through the Darkest of Times

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Through the Darkest of Times is an excellent strategy game. Its central premise is to form and grow an opposition group within Germany. In response to the Nazi regime that has just come into power. Your organisation’s primary goal is to disrupt and eventually bring down the Nazi’s before its too late.

A built atmosphere

When I first started Through the Darkest of Times. I got struck by the tense atmosphere the developers Paintbucket games managed to build. From the early 20th-century wartime soundtrack to the cartoon black and white colour scheme. Through the Darkest of Times made me feel like I was in 1930’s Germany, and it put me on edge. Knowing the turmoil and future tragedy that would unfold within the next decade. The music and graphical tone are excellent as a result, creating an atmosphere that immerses you within the game.

You with your group members

An excellent strategy game

The games main gameplay mechanics are a stand out as well. As mentioned, you lead an opposition group that seeks to end the Nazi regime. In doing so, the game requires you to recruit several different characters. From all walks of life. Each with varying skill levels that will help you complete missions to grow your organisation and weaken the dictatorial regime. For example, one of your characters might be exceptionally good at infiltration. Thus, this character would be a perfect fit to take on missions such as to spy on the regime to gain Intelligence.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. As the story progresses, the regime becomes more powerful and begins tightening its fist. As a result, missions become much more challenging with the Nazi’s posing a more significant threat to your characters and your organisation. A risk-reward mentality then kicks in with the game making the player strategically think where they should best place their characters on missions and at what cost. That cost could be jail or at worst death—none at which you want for your characters as the game does an excellent job at giving your characters’ backstories. Through dialogue options that make you genuinely care about there wellbeing. In general, a combination of these mechanics makes the strategic gameplay fantastic. I found myself spending hours weighing up the best strategy to expand my group while protecting its members.

The mission selection screen

A history lesson

The strategy entwined with the game is challenging but also educational. Through the Darkest of Times not only makes you feel like you are part of a political movement. But teaches you what it must have been like for those who were part of these opposition groups and of what horrors the population of Germany faced during Nazi rule. It also teaches you how they consolidated power. In this sense; the game gives you the player a short history lesson of Nazi Germany. It is educational and teaches people about the past, and this is always positive.

As highlighted Through the Darkest of Times is an excellent game. However, it does have its flaws. Firstly, although the dialogue adds backstory to your characters. The amount of discussion all bundled in paragraphs of several lines long made it tedious to read. As mentioned, I do understand the need to build your characters’ backstories. But the amount of dialogue was too much. Although not ruining the story. It could have done with better and more effective dialogue trees.

Recruiting a new member

Similarly, the number of missions available was also overwhelming at times. There are far too many missions to choose from with no guide on what is best to do next for such as a large number of tasks available. There should have been at least the option of hints or prompts to point you in the right direction. Nevertheless, it does not take away from the great strategic gameplay mechanics Paintbucket games managed to implement into this game.

Verdict

As a result, Through the Darkest of Times is an excellent game. Despite some flaws in its dialogue and mission selection. It manages to capture the atmosphere and history of Nazi Germany, showing how effective video games can be as a medium in teaching past historical and political events. While at the same time, offering fantastic strategic gameplay mechanics that make the game stand out within its genre.

SUMMARY

+Excellent strategic gameplay
+Great atmosphere
+Early 20th century music and art style
+Educational
-Dialogue issues
-Mission selection issues

(Reviewed on Xbox Series S, also available on PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, mobile devices and other Xbox One consoles)
Jack Boreham
My name is Jack. I've been a video gamer all my life since getting my very first starter Pokemon on the GameBoy Advance. When I'm not becoming a Pokemon master, I'm a freelance writer, podcaster and streamer, focusing on my postgraduate degree. For more about me and my work. Check out my website PixelPolitics.co.uk.
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