Under the Radar – DARQ

The idea of lucid dreaming can be a difficult concept to explain to those who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon. Essentially, the whole premise behind lucid dreaming is that once you understand you are in a dream, you have the ability to manipulate every aspect of the dream. While this might sound like a fun thing to do, DARQ appears to be a cautionary tale to show people what happens when lucid dreaming goes wrong.

DARQ is a side-scrolling puzzle game that has been heavily inspired by lucid dreaming. The possibilities of being able to do practically anything you want while sleeping sound cool, but what happens when that dream becomes a nightmare? In DARQ, you play as Lloyd, a boy who explores the phenomenon. Unfold Games, the developer of DARQ, chose to go for a psychological horror tone as opposed to the typical gore and violence approach. The trailer shows off Lloyd’s ability to bend the laws of physics to his will as he walks along ceilings and effortlessly traverses through walls.

Though the game already looks intriguing, the story behind the development is arguably even more interesting. Development for this game was started back in November 2015 by Wlad Marhulets who, at the time, had no experience making games. Over the past three and a half years, Marhulets taught himself almost every aspect of making a game: coding, programming, creating models and textures, lighting and more.

After a year of working on the game, Marhulets released a trailer for DARQ which ended up attracting the attention of Bjorn Jacobson (lead sound designer on Cyberpunk 2077) and Adam Schmidt (sound engineer known for working on Inception and Dark Knight Rises). With these big names on board, DARQ’s development began to take shape. The art direction changed throughout the next couple of years, finally settling on what we have today.

DARQ went viral on Reddit at the beginning of this year, sparking massive interest from gamers and publishers alike. The hype levels reached astronomical heights once Unfold Games revealed two months later that the team had received offers from twelve different publishers. Ultimately, the team decided to turn these offers down as some of the publishers wanted 80% of the profits as well as full ownership of the IP.

DARQ has a planned release on PC (Steam) sometime during Summer 2019, meaning that we should expect it to launch within the next six weeks. The developer has stated that they have been working 100+ hours every week and has even quit their job to ensure that this project is finished [Source: Reddit]. Unfold Games has also stated that a Nintendo Switch port of DARQ may surface, sometime after the PC release. DARQ has been described as being roughly five hours long and should have an RRP of $20.

Written for the July 5th issue of DailyBits.