Dark Void nearly had an excuse for its stubborn, deficient adversaries. In the late 1930s, it would have been impressive to have fully walking bi-pedal robot soldiers, especially since they haven’t been invented here in 2010. Missing some form of artificial intelligence would seem like an adequate trade-off with the complete lack of computing power, but as the story goes, these are aliens; aliens with all the common sense of droid army in the Star Wars prequels… which means none.
Much of Dark Void’s narrative is confusing, mostly because the early portion of the game fails to distinguish what is normal. Protagonist Will takes to battling these brightly colored metal machines quite well, especially for someone who should have never seen a computer, let alone a robot. By the time the script clears everything up, it is more of a relief that there is finally some understanding, even if the history does not seem to add up.
Dark Void’s addition to the third-person shooter genre is vertical combat. Here, Will hangs from a ledge, or crouches from above, using the thin strip of land or metal as cover. Disorientation is natural and intended. Using the right analog stick to look around tilts the camera off-axis, producing a dizzying sense of vertigo.
Leaping from ledge to ledge is only a matter of hitting X, leading to smooth transitions and perfectly paced advances. Dark Void maintains a frantic flow, forcing the player to remain on the offensive. Enemies, like Will, have the ability for brief flight, creating confined battles on the ground that also rely on limited air superiority.
Beyond that admittedly wonderful, involving twist of a now standard genre mechanic, Dark Void is entirely uninspired. Will never quite takes to full flight with his jetpack, apparently a running gag, but it means every take off bounces the character around and off objects. His flailing legs once clearly free of gravity are a fun touch, although a reminder that you seem to have as little control as Will does.