More than twenty years ago, when CD technology was still in its infancy, FMV—or full-motion video—titles were in vogue. Developers were eager to push new boundaries in terms of realism, and digitized actors framed in 640 x 480 resolution at 15 FPS were enough to wow gamers. Yet, while it’s still not a popular medium, there’s been something of an FMV resurgence as of late, and The Dark Side Of The Moon adds to that growing library today.
Arguably spurned on by 2015’s excellent Contradiction – Spot The Liar! and other interesting takes on the genre like Black Mirror’s Netflix special Bandersnatch, interest in experimental games of this nature has surged—that’s where The Dark Side Of The Moon comes in.
Having nothing to do with Pink Floyd and everything to do with burgeoning game developer auteur Darren Hall, The Dark Side Of The Moon eschews the standard point-and-click puzzle-solving trappings of most FMV games, instead placing a heavy emphasis on player choice. In fact, it’s actually strikingly similar to the aforementioned Netflix special, as spur-of-the-moment decisions are the primary draw here.
Weaving a narrative of mystery and intrigue, The Dark Side Of The Moon tells the tale of a father who wakes up one day to find his two children missing. From there, the protagonist falls down a rabbit hole of conspiracy and sci-fi-tinted machinations which ultimately resolve in one of five endings. Fantastically more thrilling than the pioneering titles which initially popularized the genre, this title feels like something of a diamond in the rough when it comes to FMV experiences.
It’s worth noting that the acting seems to be a cut above the rest; FMV games often get a pretty terrible wrap in that department, and forcing inexperienced actors into strange situations is often a recipe for hilarity. That said, the cast of The Dark Side Of The Moon really seems to be in-tune with the atypical production, and fans of the genre may recognize appearances from some of the cast members of the aforementioned Contradiction game.
Having just recently debuted, it’s difficult to properly gauge audience reaction, though Steam early adopters and FMV aficionados seem to be pleased with what’s on offer here. The game has been in development in some form for at least two years, with Darren Hall launching a Kickstarter campaign for the title back in June of 2018.
The presentation and cinematography seem to have improved by a noticeable margin since that time, and those who initially backed the project may well be pleased with what this independent project has morphed into. Obviously, FMV games don’t offer an intrinsic appeal to mainstream gamers these days, but those inclined certainly owe it to themselves to check this one out.
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