Ever since the first "Superman" game in 1979, comic books have sought to bring to life their characters through video games.
But recently, developers of both comics and games have recognized the advantages of being able to tell more stories and delve deeper into their characters by crossing over to the other's turf.
While games involving comic book superheroes like Batman or Spider-Man show off the characters, “The Darkness II” wants to truly bring the comic book style and look to video games.
“The Darkness II,” a first-person shooter, action horror game that puts you in the role of a demon-possessed hitman, relies heavily on the comic book source material for its look and feel. While the video game action will be intense and the subject matter is definitely for mature audiences, Marc Silvestri, creator of “The Darkness” comics, thought it was a bold move for developer Digital Extremes to stick to the look of the comic book series.
“When you play ‘The Darkness II,’ you are literally playing in a graphic novel. It is kind of an eerie effect, but it works perfectly for what the subject matter is,” Silvestri said.
“These guys hand painted every texture. It is literally living art. If Walt Disney were alive today and wanted to make a game visually, he’d make ‘The Darkness II.’”
Silvestri said it makes sense for comic books to reach out to video games. Fans of each share common likes and interests. Bringing a comic book to video games lets comic book fans can actually take on the role of one of the characters while introducing the comic to gaming fans.
“It has got that great sense of putting yourself in the place of the (comic) hero that translates perfectly to other media – games and movies. (Comic fans) were just waiting for the technology,” Silvestri said. “Each generation gets more and more prepared for the next step (in entertainment).”
“In ‘The Darkness II,’ you are never not in the shoes of the main character. It is critical to tell a great story to go with the action,” Silvestri said, noting how "Darkness" comic book writer Paul Jenkins has brought continuity as the writer of the second iteration of the game.
Developers worked alongside Jenkins to offer a story that would keep the player’s interest while letting the gamer feel like they were in charge.
The prevailing thought was that cool gameplay and technology would not stand up to the demands of today’s fans without a really good story to direct it.
The result is a game franchise that is story and character driven, Silvestri said, which lets the player feel like they control the action even though they may be heading in the direction the game intends.
Mike Patton, lead singer for "Faith No More," will be returning to his role as The Darkness in the new sequel. Patton is excited about getting involved again as the demon.
“I’ve had a lot of practice (with a demonic voice) with various musical projects I’ve been involved with over the years, some of which can be extreme. I’ve always tried to use my voice as an instrument,” Patton said.
He said the biggest challenge was not to overdo it because his character does a lot of yelling and screaming and makes a lot of demonic and otherworldly sounds. He spent about 8 hours in a studio and had moments of artistic improvisation.
Fans of "Faith No More" know Mike Patton for the versatility of his voice - from falsetto to screaming to crooning. Patton said his vocal range helped him give depth and emotion to The Demon in "The Darkness II."
Patton points out there are as many hard core music geeks as there are gaming geeks and he thinks there is a lot of crossover between the two.
“This ‘Darkness’ thing has really taken off. It is a really elegant and dynamic game. It’s a gas,” he said. “It is ultra-violent, but it is stylized and an exhilarating thrill ride.”
Patton enjoyed working on the series and said he would love to continue doing the voice in the future. He might get that chance on a bigger screen.
Silvestri said there are plans to make ‘The Darkness’ into a feature film. He said the movie would have elements from the game and the comic book series, meshing all the entertainment genres together.