‘Dark’: The Game’s Producer Weighs In On Stealth, Vampires, And ‘The Darth Vader Choke’

Strategy fans likely know Realmforge quite well, with games like Dungeons and M.U.D. TV on their resume. But the developer is stepping into an entirely new genre, and coming to consoles for the first time, with their upcoming stealth-action game Dark. We spoke with Dennis Blumenthal, the game’s producer, about the challenges of developing the game and basing it around vampires, and discovered the game has one attack you’ll probably use constantly, what the dev team calls “The Darth Vader Choke”.

Gamma Squad: How did Dark first get started?

Dennis Blumenthal: It started with an idea. We’re all big fans of the Thief series and the Splinter Cell games, and we thought it’s a pity that games nowadays are way too much action oriented. We wanted to make an old-school stealth game, but with a unique style and a fresh setting. That was the core idea behind Dark. After playing with some concepts we settled on the vampire setting, as vampires actually are inherently perfect for a stealth game and we really wondered why nobody did this before.

Gamma Squad: What makes Dark different from other action RPGs hitting the market?

Blumenthal: Dark is more of a stealth-action RPG, than just an action RPG, so we have a strong focus on being, well, stealthy. Also, unlike our competitors, we have a unique premise in that the player takes on the role of a “freshly turned” vampire, which opens up both supernatural and super-powered elements to the gameplay. Rather than rely on gadgets and gizmos, like other games in the genre might, players in Dark will rely on their skills and their patience, along with a helping of special vampire-specific powers, like short-range teleportation, insta-kill moves, and special skills that let you distract and lure your opponents away from targets.

Gamma Squad: The gameplay footage we’ve seen puts a heavy emphasis on stealth. What can you tell us about sneaking around in the game?

Blumenthal: The core gameplay definitely focuses on the stealth elements. At the same time, however, we’re not limiting it solely to stealth play, as you can switch up your mix of powers and skills, and enjoy a more action-oriented game. For example, a stealth player might watch a group of guards as they patrol an area, then find an opening in their patrol routes, and sneak through. In the same situation, an action player may teleport into the group, kill a guard, teleport out, hide, and repeat the process, picking off guards one by one as they track him down.

Gamma Squad: What abilities will players be able to pick up in the course of the game?

Blumenthal: There’s quite a mix – as we wanted to offer something for both stealth and action gamers. Also, every power uses “Vitae” (a sort of energy, acquired by drinking human blood) and has a cool-down timer, to ensure that you can’t just spam your powers.

We have a cool mix of powers – a few examples:

  • Shadow Leap: a short range teleport
  • Shadow Kill: combines shadow leap with an instant kill (and a cool attack animation) on the end
  • Shadow Grip: grab an enemy from a distance, strangling him “remotely” then slamming the body to the ground (some of us jokingly call this the “Darth Vader Choke”)
  • Distract: you throw a small ball of energy, that captures the attention of anyone nearby. Thus giving you a few seconds to swoop in for the kill, or sneak around everyone
  • Obfuscation: your cloak yourself in shadows, allowing you to slip into the dark and move past guards more easily in dark areas
  • Celerity: move at high speed

Gamma Squad: This is a change of pace for Realmforge, not only with more action-oriented play but also bringing your game to consoles for the first time. What changes did you have to make in your process to make it work?

Blumenthal: As the Xbox-360-Architecture is pretty close to the pc-structure the required changes were not too big. A real challenge indeed were the limited hardware ressources of the Xbox 360 in comparison to modern pc’s.

Dark will be arriving for PC and Xbox 360 June 11th.