The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark Review: is it spooky in here or is it just me?
This review has been a long time coming — seriously, the game released over a year ago — but with three new DLC cases on the scene, how could anyone say no to more Detective McQueen? Published by Akupara Games (Kardboard Kings) and developed by Spooky Doorway (The Darkside Detective), The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark adds six new cases plus a bonus three episodes for a total of nine new levels. How’s that for play value? So grab your long trenchcoats, ouija boards, and any other occulty stuff you might need out in the field — it’s time to get spooky with The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark.
In case you didn’t play the first game in the series, I’ll catch you up to speed: Detective Francis McQueen and his trusty, dusty policeman partner, Officer Dooley, were up to plenty of spooky shenanigans when, suddenly, Dooley was whisked away to the other side. The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark picks up right where the last game left off, finding McQueen all alone in the precinct, his department of one now ripe for the plucking. Without a partner, McQueen sees his department disbanded, his files thrown out, and his car in total disrepair. But none of that matters — he must find Dooley, and with the help of his new friend Raxa, he just might!
Of course, any seasoned detective knows that finding Dooley will only be part of it — after all, if there’s an entire department dedicated to the Dark Side, what makes anyone think this story will be sugar and spice and everything nice? Retrieving Dooley from the other side is only the beginning, and what is unleashed afterwards will become a problem the pair have to tackle. But at least they have each other to do so! That’s right, the boys are back in town — and just in time, because things are about to go from spooky to downright scary.
As The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark is a point and click, controls on the Switch are already not the best suited for the platform; however, the game does a great job of offsetting potential issues by making the cursor fast but not too sensitive. This means that when you want your cursor to book it, it absolutely glides across the screen, but will do so with pinpoint precision. Humorously, there’s no fumbling in The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark, at least when it comes to controls!
When it comes to the writing, The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark is some of the best I’ve ever encountered in a point and click game. It’s not just that it’s funny — it is — and it’s not just because it’s an X-Files/Twin Peaks parody — again, it is — but also because of the depth of the storytelling and the personality of everyone… and, erm, everything… involved. While the game obviously leans more into the humor of these ridiculous situations that the characters find themselves in, there’s also a semblance of logic that flows with the title, which makes it easier to understand why you might be picking up certain items and using them in specific scenarios. I found myself really appreciating the writing for the laughs, but also for the worldbuilding and logic as well.
Naturally, I have to gush about the pixel art — it’s spectacular, and it blends beautifully with the writing and sound design to make some serious magic on screen. I think the best example of this that I can find is that, while the characters don’t have facial features, you can absolutely picture their expressions in your head as you read the dialogue. I remember thinking to myself how much range Detective McQueen has, from silly, genuine happiness to that deadpan sigh at the camera when I realized that what I had “seen” was all in my head. It just goes to show you how great the game is when you can vividly recall things that weren’t actually there but totally conveyed!
The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark’s new levels mean it’s absolutely time to play this spooky pixel art gem. With nine spooky cases to solve as Detective McQueen with Officer Dooley by your side, the occult simply doesn’t stand a chance. Don’t let this pixel art point and click haunt your backlog any longer — pick up The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark and crack the original six scenarios plus the three new bonus cases before they drag you to the Dark Side.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: XBox One, XBox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, PC, Switch (reviewed); Publisher: Akupara Games; Developer: Spooky Doorway; Players: 1; Released: April 15, 2021; MSRP: $12.99
Editor’s note: This review is based on a digital copy of The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark provided by the publisher.