Dark and Darker has had a turbulent development cycle but the team at Ironmace Games has crossed another major milestone and released the game into early access. Players can pick it up through the official site or Chaf Games.
On August 7, 2023, the team at Ironmace Games made the announcement that after a long wait, Dark and Darker is finally in early access. No more waiting for betas or week-long Steam demos, if you want to play an incredibly unique, Dungeons and Dragons-style extraction game, you can do so now. Players can pick up the game from the Dark and Darker store or from Chaf Games, the latter of which is known for its library of indie games.
The official announcement by Ironmace notes that the Korean release has been delayed as the team awaits the rating from the Korean Game Rating Board. Additionally, in-game VoIP is temporarily unavailable as the legal team spends time ensuring that the agreements are “absolutely perfect, especially when it comes to dealing with user data and third-party partners.”
Ironmace has always been open about the need to monetize the game but to do so in a way that does not exploit the playerbase. There is an in-game shop in Dark and Darker, as well as a Founder’s Edition for those who want some extra goodies, but the team wants to avoid “random loot boxes and FOMO items.”
Message from the Chaf Games Team:— IRONMACE (@IronmaceGames) August 7, 2023
Dear DaD Community
We would like to extend our sincerest apologies for the recent challenges you may have faced while trying to access our game. Due to an unexpectedly high volume of traffic, our servers encountered database issues which may…
Finally, the announcement notes that this is still a work-in-progress and there are bound to be problems. One such problem has already cropped up with Chaf Games who has had to issue refunds due to some desynchronized payments. Apparently this is due to an “unexpectedly high volume of traffic”, which makes sense given Dark and Darkers’ popularity.
As for what’s been going on with Dark and Darker and why it’s taken Ironmace Games so long to release it into early access, it’s all thanks to some ongoing legal issues. Nexon had issued a cease and desist again Ironmace which resulted in Steam delisting the title. There are also allegations that ex-employees stole code and assets from Nexon and were using them to create Dark and Darker.
Since then, Ironmace has managed to run another demo weekend of Dark and Darker despite the game not being formally hosted on major platforms. Users had to acquire a string of digits from Ironmace, which were then decoded using a hex tool, which gave them a magnet link to download the game by torrenting. This roundabout way of accessing the game was due to official channels (Twitter and Discord) not accepting torrent links. During this punk playtest, Dark and Darker suffered a DDoS attack and underwent a few patches, which were also distributed via torrent.
But now, after all that and while still in the throes of legal battles with Nexon, Ironmace has released Dark and Darker into early access. Looks like it’s the season for dark fantasy games.
Sam Chandler posted a new article, Dark and Darker releases into early access
Is it good though? It kinda just looks like indie jank?
It's fantasy melee combat battle royale with tarkov elements for looting. I liked the combat mechanics and the "should I keep pushing forward?" is a fun element. My only gripe is teams are limited to three so my group of four can't really play it.
I played a little bit (2-3 hours?) during the first Steam demo/play test. Yes there was jank, but it also was really interesting: a multiplayer D&D battle grounds. You could pick from a few classes (warrior, wizard, priest, etc.), and then go into a dungeon with 2 friends (I think there was also solo dungeons), and there would be 6-8 (I forget the exact count) other 3 player groups. You would have to use your wits, equipment, spells and skills to collect better equipment while surviving NPC enemies and the other player teams while keeping in the safe zone. You are trying to get to either an exit, or an entrance to a 'deeper' (harder) level of the dungeon. If you exited, you could sell the loot to buy upgraded equipment and use XP to unlock skills, but if you died, you would loose the equipment you found and what you were wearing.
At least at that point, apparently not many teams were in the harder dungeons, but I'm assuming that would change as more teams ranked up. I never made it out of the dungeon, but at least one of the people I was playing with did.
I'd like to play it again, but if there is still ongoing legal trouble, I wouldn't want to buy a game the may be shut down if they are found to have stolen code or assets. However, if it does show up on Steam again, I'd pick it up. I was having fun with it and would like to try a few different builds, even if I never got too far in the game.
It's phenomenal. And the fact it dominated Steam charts and Twitch while it was merely a demo speaks volumes. It might be janky around the edges, but often the best games are.
In Dark and Darker, players form teams of up to four players to explore procedurally generated dungeons filled with monsters, traps, and treasure. Players must work together to survive the dungeon and extract as much loot as possible. The game features a hardcore permadeath system, meaning that players will lose their character permanently if they die. https://www.ssegold.com/dark-and-darker-gold