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About the StoryYou're the nightmare from which people can't wake. Dead twice. One by the hand of your maker, the second by the fiend who drove a stake through your heart while you were sleeping defenceless in your coffin. Alive thrice, it seems, although this last one shouldn't be possible. Something happened.
Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Current Version: 1
License: Creative Commons
Development System: Inform 6
Forgiveness Rating: Merciful
English translation of Darkiss! Il bacio del vampiro - Capitolo 1: il risveglio, by Marco Vallarino
Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2015 XYZZY Awards
12th Place - 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2015)
Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling
IF Comp 2015: Darkiss - Chapter 1: the Awakening (Marco Vallarino)
Darkiss Chapter 1 is a puzzly parser game in which you are a vampire. You've partially recovered after an attack of vengeful villagers, but your strength is still low, and you need to gather your possessions and regain your powers before you move on. The puzzles are mostly of a fairly straightforward and traditional kind, though there were one or two outliers.
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Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling
IF Comp 2015 Guest Post: Lucian Smith on Darkiss
As part of Emily Short's Review the IF Comp series, I was asked to review Darkiss, by Marco Vallarino. It was a solid game, with some good writing and some good puzzles.
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Renga in Blue Interactive fiction and puzzles
IFComp 2015: Darkiss - Chapter 1: the Awakening
Darkiss - Chapter 1: the Awakening (let's agree to type Darkiss for short) is a parser game that casts you as a weakened vampire who is left for dead after many years, seeking revenge. The prose is so very, very gothic. I hope you like adjectives. It's got an appropriate puzzle spread, because the ones who attempted to kill you also left many other barriers in case the wooden stake wore off.
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IF Comp Review: Darkiss - Chapter 1: The Awakening
Darkiss is very much a game that lives or dies by its atmosphere, which luckily it has in spades. Most of the game's environments and objects get at least a paragraph of description, if not more, and while it can get pretty text-dumpy at times, the game usually reserves long text descriptions for important plot events. The writing itself is pretty good, although a little stilted (likely due to its translation from the Italian).
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
You play as a vampire who's just awoken after having been killed for the second time. You're in your crypt surrounded by protective wards that the people who slayed you left behind to ensure you'd stay dead and trapped. But they didn't succeed. You have to disassemble the wards and break out again to reunite with your vampire queen mistress.
Everything about this game is neck-deep in both serious and parodic vampire lore. The environment is elaborately overwrought, with torture devices and painted bats and spiders and snakes on the walls. One sub-mission involves finding your evil vampire wardrobe and dressing in style for your comeback. What puzzles you'll find here are basic, not really pushing any envelopes, but sprinkled around in just the right places to keep you engaged. Or at least, in the right places to keep me engaged!
But what really won me over about this game was the writing. I can't judge the original Italian. My impression is that it must have been baroque, and the translated prose drips with atmosphere and character. It's decadent. But it's also unnatural, and by that I mean that a native English speaker would have never naturally written prose like this. That does not mean the translation suffers from broken English. For the most part (barring a few typos) it's grammatically sound. Rather, it has a cadence that only a non-native speaker could bring to the language. An inclination to turn phrases in unexpected ways.
In another genre, this would have surely backfired, but here the translation enhances the experience enormously. It places Darkiss into a tradition that I thought only belonged to film: schlocky yet sincere foreign horror overdubbed with out-of-sync voice acting. In fact, it's more than that: Darkiss is like the thick accent that Bela Lugosi brought to Dracula. It's inadvertent but it's perfection.
Maybe this makes it sound as though the translation is doing the game a disservice by misrepresenting the original Italian, but I don't think that's the case. You already know what tone Darkiss has in mind from the narrative and setting and characters. It loves old-fashioned vampire stories, both for their silly tropes and for the true horror that they explore, and it's taking all the classic ingredients and mixing them together into an over-the-top homage. I wouldn't be surprised if the English translation actually succeeds more than the Italian at this goal.
Finally, something else wonderful comes through the translation: earnestness. You can tell that Darkiss was written with love, and you can tell that it wants to share that love with the player. I think this is why it was such a joy for me to play even though the protagonist is so vile (because Martin Voigt is indeed a vile vampire, not a romantic one). Every new action reveals another little passage in the story, and each new passage is a delight to read.
Darkiss is probably the best self-aware horror game that I've ever played.
The tropes of the vampire are there (rich, immortal, big library; and particularly the thematic of seduction, which is at the base of the vampire myth - but there's a hint of a strong female character too which I find nice), and more, since you also have (Spoiler - click to show)the Necronomicon, demons, magic spells to resurrect the dead, telepathy, talking paintings, a torture chamber, and you live in a mountain (instead of in a castle on top of it, I guess). It's kind of a mixed bag, really; but I guess the point of the game is more to be cast at an evil supernatural character and riff off of it, and about the fun of being evil, as the writing seems to emphasize with glee and sometimes over-the-top/clichéd phrasings. There are a few English mistakes too (not that I can say anything), but in this case it gives the movie a sort of B-movie texture that's actually pretty fun.
I must admit I didn't really like being that guy: he seemed like a particularly sadistic vampire, (Spoiler - click to show)torturing people with glee (with descriptions), and it didn't really make me feel really comfortable - I didn't think this was fun, but others might find it entertaining.
There's about a dozen puzzles, involving recovering your powers and getting out of your lair; the puzzles are fair, but mostly of the "get X use X don't use it again" kind. There are a few non-standard verbs, usually used in one puzzle. The implementation is excellent: I found that almost all the actions have custom responses, and there's even amusing commands to try (there's a NPC that reacts to various topics, including Zork, apparently). The parser is rather helpful and everything was very, very smooth.
The game is fun, with a B-movie-like atmosphere but I didn't like the PC; the game is also very smooth, and all in all very enjoyable.
Random comment: the fact that the vampire would take advantage of his immortality to master the art of painting intricate, beautiful ceilings struck me as a delightfully Italian thing to do.
Random comment #2: this is a game about a vampire where >count is one of the non-standard verbs. I don't think that's intentional, but it made me smile.
You are a vampire that seems like he would be played by a comedic actor in a darker film (kind of like a Buffy the Vampire take on an ancient Vampire). The game gets morbid but jokes as it does so (you remember torturing people a lot, for instance, but it' s played as an enjoyable hobby. I thought it was too much at a few points, but this game is unlikely to seriously offend anyone.
If you like puzzley games, you will love this one.
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