Born Into Darkness Review

A seek and find game featuring a vampire? Can you only play it at night?

Main screenshot

Vampires have invaded popular media with several movies a wildly successful HBO series so I guess it's only natural that they invade casual games. Born Into Darkness is a seek and find game that involves a man named Nathaniel Black teaming up with Amber Blythe, a female vampire. in a Boston museum to find the "Shroud of Lazarus". The clues found in the museum start them on their world wide quest for the priceless artifact. The back story isn't fully developed and Amber never has to use any "Vampiric" powers but that's really secondary when you're talking about a seek and find game.

Let's review how to play this casual game.

Game play in Born Into Darkness involves finding pieces of certain items that, when complete, can be used with interactive sections on the main game screen. The first screen is a mini tutorial where you are given two items to complete, shown how to find the pieces needed to create them, and shown how to get clues from each of the main characters. You are also shown how to use the journal and how to get extra clues for each character. That is ALL you need to know to play Born Into Darkness. After these commands are explained, the pop up instructions stop and the game continues normally.

Find parts to complete item
Show all needed parts of an item
by moving the arrow over it.
The game starts with you having access to only one room and needing to find two items. One item is the key, which will unlock, and give you access to, the storage room while the other item is a pulley that will allow you to move a curtain to access the stage. Some items, such as the key, have only one part and when that part is found, the item is complete. Other items, such as the pulley, need several parts to complete it. Moving the mouse over the item will show a small window displaying the parts needed to complete it.

Once the item is complete, you can use it on an interactive part of the screen. For example, using the key on the door will open it and allow you to access another room. The key will then vanish from your inventory and another part will appear. Usually, you'll have two items that you'll be trying to complete at any time.

Interaction with screen
Get the crusader's message!
The cursor turns into a hand when
moving over special sites. Left
click to activate it.
You can find where to use items you've completed by moving the mouse around the game window. When you move over an interactive section, a magnifying glass will appear. You will then be told what the item is, what it can be used for, and what is needed to get it to work. Once an item is complete, click on it with your mouse, drag it over to the interactive section, and the item will be automatically used. Interactive sections of the game window only become active when the appropriate item is available for you to find. For example, the case that will house a set of stone tablets will not become interactive if you're still working on the key and the pulley.

Information on the items you want to complete and what you're supposed to do with them is also available in your journal. Click on the "Journal" button on the lower right side of the game window and the journal will appear. It will tell you what items need to be completed and what interactive part of the game they are to be used with. It DOESN'T tell you where the interactive sections are so you'll have to search the area when new pieces become available.

Interactive area
One of your completed items
goes on the model stand
Your journal has important information
The game is comprised of several sections which represent areas that Amber and Nathaniel are traveling to and are shown on a map. Each section consists of a series rooms where you search for items to solve a series of puzzles that will give you more information about the mystery and allow you to progress to the next part of the game. Your progress is charted on the green progress bar that show how far you have progressed in completing all your tasks and will help you decide when the best time to use a clue would be.

Each character has three hints they can offer which is shown by three gems on the circles on the left and right of the main game window. The skull on the lower right of the game window represents Amber and the cross on the lower left side represents Nathaniel. To get a clue, click one of the three gems and then click on the item that you need help with. Asking for a clue from Amber will turn the entire window red and highlight the needed piece in an oval. Nathaniel's clues turn the screen purple, moves the piece away from the background, and highlights it with beams of light behind it. They are very good visual effects.

Amber's mini game

If you're really stuck and find that you've used up all of your clues, you can always get some more. Clicking on the cross or the skull circle will bring up a mini game that will award you extra hints if you win. The games are similar. To renew Amber's clues, you must identify a certain number of ghosts by mouse clicking on them before a preset amount of time expires. To renew Nathaniel's clues, you must identify a series of specific phrases from a swirling group of words before the time limit expires. The picture above shows Amber's mini game.

End picture

Although it doesn't contain anything especially "vampiric", Born Into Darkness is an engaging seek and find game. Unlike many games of this genre, the story actually leads the game forward and draws the user into the mystery. The items you need to find and the puzzles you solve pertain to the story and the dialog helps move things along instead of being useless filler between puzzle screens. The only drawback to Born Into Darkness is that hard core seek and find players may find it too easy. You only have to complete two items at any time and some of these items only have one piece. Most seek and find games have you find items from a game window loaded with items that you'll never use. To add variety to those games, they have you find different items if you replay the screen. By contrast, pieces to an item in Born Into Darkness don't appear in the game window before the item itself can be assembled. The sudden appearance of new pieces on a previously empty game window often makes them very easy to find. I found the engaging story made up for any lack of difficulty in game play.

This is how I rate Born Into Darkness

Cost - Can you say cheap?

Available Platforms - PC Only

Gameplay - A bit easy for a game of the seek and find genre.

Graphics - Very good. The hint graphics are worth viewing even if you know where all of an item's pieces are.

Originality - Including a Vampire in a seek and find game is original but Amber really isn't very "Vampiric"

Strong Points - The engaging story line draws you into the mystery and keeps you searching. Other games of this genre often give you no incentive to keep playing.

Weak Points - Diehard seek and find fans may find locating item pieces to be too easy.

Boredom/Frustration Ratio: 2/1 - The game is easy for a seek and find but the story line makes up for it.

Overall Rating: 7

Conclusion: Born Into Darkness tries to cash in on the current Vampire mania by including a vampire as a main character. Unfortunately, the character never uses vampiric powers to do anything and the game play is a bit on the easy side. The engaging story line and multiple level puzzles redeem the game and provide for a captivating gaming experience.

Download Born Into Darkness from The Shareware Genie and try it for one hour free. The price has been reduced to $9.99.