Darkest Fear is a puzzle game set in a bleak haunted hospital with you playing the protagonist Dr. Thomas Warden. Thomas gets a strange phone call from his wife urging him to come find her. The story reminds me a bit of the original Silent Hill but a bit more straightforward, and less cruel.
Darkest Fear is not a survival horror game as you don’t have any means of killing the monsters directly, and you can’t be killed as long as you stay in the light. I would rather say that Darkest Fear is a neat sokoban game about moving boxes, and light sources. Puzzles in the game consist of opening doors by placing objects on floor switches, making lit paths through the darkness by using flashlights, mirrors and windows and lighting up the area around saved people.
Darkest Fear is played in a top down view, and to move you simply tap somewhere on screen and drag in the direction you want Thomas to go. Thomas is quite slow, and moves jerkily in set strides, which disturbs me somewhat. On a 3GS his movements are less jerky than on the 3G though. To pick up an object you simply stand over it, and press the button to the right of the game area.
The story in Darkest Fear is told in images and text. White drawings of the occupants of the hostpital against a black backdrop manage to make the game really eerie. You also get tidbits of information by simply walking into people in the hospital.
Each of the 15 levels require you to make your way to the exit finding keys, rescuing patients and clearing lit paths. Once you accept that you aren’t going to find a gun to blast away at the creatures scuttling around in the dark the game is a breeze. At first I got stuck on the second level until I realised that most of the time you have to drop your light source to get it to light up more than if you hold on to it.
I really enjoyed playing Darkest Fear, but sadly it was over when I was getting good at it. You get to make a choice or two determining the outcome of the game but other than that there is no reason to go back and play it again unless you want to rescue all of the patients.
Presentation and graphics
Darkest Fear is dark and fearful with bloody smears on the floors, good lighting effects and good drawings setting the scene well. Having the hospital as level select is neat letting you see your progress clearly, as well as seeing where you have missed some patients.
The sound is creepy with some suiting music, and gnarly sound effects of the creatures dwelling in the dark. No way to set volumes, which bothered me somewhat as I wanted to have the sound effects higher in the mix.
It is basically sokoban with a story, and creepy setting. Thomas is a bit slow, and I think that the controls are quite slow when you have to drag around. Placing light sources is quite fun, but it will pose little or no challenge after the first couple of levels.
When I realised that Darkest Fear was a puzzler I breezed through it in less than two hours. Rescuing all patients and seeing the different endings add an hour to game life but after that there is no point going back to Darkest Fear.
I would have loved to continue playing Darkest Fear but sadly it ended once I got in the groove. It is definitely a good puzzler, and one of the darker games for the iPhone. I recommend trying the lite version first to see if it your cup of tea as well.