Darkout Beta Preview

Darkout is a sandbox survival game where players explore, gather resources, research and build, while defending themselves against the aliens who come in the night.

Darkout - Jungle Explorer

Darkout is in development by Allgraf, and has recently been Greenlit on Steam.  The game is in beta on Desura, with updates, new features and bug fixes being made regularly.

Players begin the game having crash landed on the surface of the planet Illuna, with harsh environments to survive in, and limited resources to get started.  The jellyfish type enemies that you meet glow with various colours, as do some of the plants above ground.  Underground, coal and ore resources glint occasionally, so you know where to dig within all that darkness.  Darkout uses an interesting light/dark mechanic, with enemies being strong in the dark but vulnerable in the light.

Darkout - Jellyfish

The graphics are rather beautiful, but there’s no time to hang around and look because enemies appear instantly.

I really think the game could do with a little grace period before this happens.  I may have been particularly unlucky in this, but I was under constant attack before I’d even figured out what items were in my starting inventory.  While trying to get through the first parts of the tutorial, I was being hounded by spider-like enemies that spawned just about as fast as I could kill them, with two or three on-screen at any time.  They killed me over and over again.. the player can only take two or three hits.  At present, players lose nothing on death, and simply respawn with inventory intact.. but it’s still really, really frustrating.

As for shelter – the tutorial says to find suitable space, build walls and a ceiling, and place two doors at either end.  I could not place the doors anywhere within my first shelter, and assumed that there was a glitch.. so I started again with a new game.  What I eventually figured out was that doors have to be placed on floors rather than inserted into your walls – so you need to build a floor to your shelter too.  The floor is not mentioned in the tutorial, and the idea of building a ‘proper’ floor is not at all intuitive when the material you’ve crafted and are expected to use is called “wooden wall“.

I also found that the creatures were able to spawn inside my shelter, until I lit it up enough.  Within your starting inventory are a number of Glow Torches, which are great for lighting an area up.  However, these can’t be built at first, requiring other research to be completed first.  You can build plain torches, but these are supposed to be temporary items, and I was actually only able to place one of them on the floor.. no amount of clicking or shift-clicking would place other torches in any other location I tried.

Darkout - Torch placement

Darkout is still in beta, and the development team are continually adding features and squashing bugs as they find them.

I don’t know if it’s on the list, but I feel that the interface still needs work.  The status window on the lower right of the HUD is tiny, forcing you to scroll if you want to see more than one message.  You need to click on items to see what they are, rather than It takes some time to find what you want in the crafting panel too, and this all slows the game down.

It’s clear that fully exploring the game will become quite a time-sink.  Fans can buy into the beta on Desura for £7.99, a lower price available until multiplayer is released, or wait until the problems have been ironed out and the game is more polished.  Once this happens, Darkout should rival any other sandbox survival game on the market!

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