In The Darkest Tales by Trinity Team, you take on the role of Teddy, a cute (not-so-cute) teddy bear belonging to Alicia and long forgotten in the toy box. While this sounds like the start of a Toy Story sequel, it’s far from Disney! You’re quickly awoken by a spirit and sent on a quest into the girl’s nightmares to free her from a demon.
But is this 2.5D platformer a dream come true or a nightmare itself?
The Darkest Tales is a platformer at its heart. With various levels that offer environmental puzzles and challenges to solve to progress. Overlayed over this is a dark and moving story as you attempt to free your owner from the nightmare.
As Teddy progresses on his epic quest, he acquires new items and weapons to make things easier. How the nightmare world blends natural objects with fantasy is the perfect example of a child’s imagination. For example, on finding a pair of scissors, he breaks them in half to create dual-wield swords. (No one should do this, mind you!) As you progress, axes, bows, and more become available, and some enemies can only be defeated by using certain weapons. This gives combat a lot more versatility and interest.
In terms of powers and abilities, these, along with your weapons, can be upgraded via spending points in the skill tree. These advanced mechanics almost give the game action-adventure vibes despite the game being a platformer.
Visually, I love the graphics style of The Darkest Tales. With its watercolour art style and exceptional detail, you get this twisted blend of gory horror and children’s fairy tale. The gore is present, as are the often-disgusting elements that give the world its dark and decaying edge. The different levels are all loosely based on well-known children’s fairy tales and are recognisable as a result while feeling different. The cutscenes are just as fantastic and become quite the spectacle as the game progresses. This is a platformer like nothing I’ve experienced.
The game has great audio, too, with funny dialogue that’s well-acted.
In terms of controls, the game benefits from using a controller; I found keyboard controls a little too challenging to work with. It all felt natural as soon as I plugged in the controller. I reviewed the PC version, so this game should perform well on all consoles. All is not perfect when it comes to the controls, though.
It’s tough to find fault in The Darkest Tales. The game’s immersion was only broken with one mechanic, double jumping. To say it’s temperamental is an understatement, and I hope it’s something that gets fixed in a patch. It’s incredibly unreliable, and I couldn’t determine what I was doing to make it work when it chose to. What I did learn, though, is that it never works when pressing the jump button twice… as you would expect it to! Much like the game, double jumping is dark and twisted!
When it comes to combat, for the most part, a thoroughly enjoyable experience, there are some shocking difficulty spikes, particularly with the bosses. The jump up in difficulty felt awkward and not a natural progression throughout. This is a minor niggle, but still worth pointing out for those who get frustrated by repeating stages.
Final Thoughts on The Darkest Tales
Despite those minor issues, I cannot praise The Darkest Tales enough. From its dark take on well-known fairy tales to the exciting combat and variety of foes and platforming challenges, it’s near perfect. Throw in a charming and engaging story and stunning watercolour-style graphics; you’re left with a solid experience and a joy to play.
To find out more, head to the developer’s website.