Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Shot in the Dark Is Black White And Dead All Over
I love any game about the Wild West. And there’s nothing more wild than the occult. Shot in the Dark by developer Possum House Games is one such story. You play as a bandit, in land overrun with demons and the undead. With nothing but a six-shooter and guile, you must take down the cult, the demons, the zombies, and reanimated enemies from your past. With a game this brutally hard, the name is more than appropriate.
What drew me initially to Shot in the Dark was, of course, the visual style. The Sin City black, white, and red aesthetic is something that always makes a game more interesting. The Saboteur and Othercide are great examples of pretty good games that achieve a whole new layer of cool simply because of their color palette.
That was initially. As I played Shot in the Dark, I realized how the simplicity of the colors did a lot more than just add style. One big feature of Shot in the Dark are enemies who are hard to see, if not invisible outright. With areas full of inky black backgrounds, what you see is nowhere near as scary as what you don’t see. Especially when all you’ve got to defend yourself is a few precious shots in the chamber.
Non-Wanky Game Recap:
The gameplay of Shot in the Dark is simple. You’ve got six shots. Make them count. Much like the traditional cap and ball revolvers of the West, operating this damn thing is remarkably slow. Hold right click to aim, press left click to shoot, and bullets are reloaded one at a time. These mechanics are not too difficult on their own, but add in some goblins and ghoulies and it gets a bit more complex.
Remarkable use of color not only gives Shot in the Dark a striking visual style. It also meshes seamlessly with the gameplay. The simplicity of the sprites and the stark contrasts make for good environments for sneaky enemies and traps. Hide in one color, jump out into another. Like a polar bear blinking in a blizzard, the only visual cues you may get are some glowing red eyes. And with one hit kills, you’d better be on your guard
Shot in the Dark is brutal. One hit kills, low mobility, and slow shooting make for some extremely difficult gameplay as the later levels roll on. There’s nothing bad about a hard game. Shot in the Dark is the same kind of fun as Super Meat Boy. But certainly this is not a game for everyone, and if you can’t beat the free demo on itch.io with ease, you may want to think twice before buying the full version.
How To Fix It:
The only issues in Shot in the Dark are the reloads. The first reload is the gun. I do appreciate that you have to reload one bullet at a time. However, you have to do it while holding right click, which is pretty awkward while under stress. The next is the level reloads. Some of these levels are really long and arduous, and having to go back to the very beginning is more than a little frustrating. Either some shorter levels or halfway points would make the journey a bit less grueling. But then, sometimes grueling is just what we need.
Simplicity is good. When a developer pulls off a complex mechanic in a simple manner, it’s good for everyone. Shot in the Dark is a dark and tense game with three colors. Enemies need not hide in wait to ambush you. They can just be chameleons. Many of the demons you encounter in Shot in the Dark are generally no stronger than Goombas, and yet, with some color coordination, they are all the more terrifying.