Dark Sales by Optic Scatter Games
In Dark Sales by Optic Scatter Games, you are a white-collar worker who has just been fired.
You soon find out that you are actually the Chosen Salesman, who is believed to be part of a prophecy that can break the cycle of random firings happening across the land. Knowing this, you set off on your journey to take down many bosses and other white-collar workers along the way. The game’s narrative doesn’t expand much further than this and is sparse from here on out.
Since this game is a parody of Dark Souls, the narrative would have been more fun if it leaned on creating a more fleshed-out parody. Instead, it feels too bare-bones and more of an homage.
The Violence of Capitalism
Combat is difficult. Most enemies can kill you, requiring you to master the game’s combat mechanics to survive. Evade attacks by rolling or blocking to wait for an opening. It follows the Souls game series blueprint and is very demanding.
Be prepared to die and also get frustrated with its challenging bosses. Or you have an option for a less stress-filled experience on “EZ PZ” Mode.
The issue I had with the core combat is that it doesn’t feel gratifying enough. Instead of giving me weapons to fight with, it slowly unlocks hand-to-hand combos I could perform using the light and heavy attack buttons.
The problem here is that the fisticuffs combat in this game feels stiff and unsatisfying. Combos are easy enough to pull off but just miss that weight and fluidity that can be found in other 2D action games.
The gameplay loop is structured like Dark Souls: fight enemies to collect sales (this game’s equivalent of souls), rest at a water cooler to level up.
There are bosses to kill to progress and unlock new hand-to-hand combos, non-randomized equipment and items to boost stats. Its RPG leveling and enemy scaling feel almost identical to a Souls game.
It’s Funnier If You Played the Original
Since it’s so similar to the aforementioned game, it would behoove you to have played Dark Souls before to completely understand the mechanics of this game. Kill enemies to upgrade stats, rinse and repeat. Its gameplay loop is not unique but perfect for those who love the Souls series.
The game world features large environments with locked doors scattered here and there. The game feels like its funneling you towards a particular path, as some areas become accessible later when you learn traversal skills. Skills like a double-jump or electrical dash make backtracking feel akin to a Metroidvania.
Level design is actually a solid aspect of Dark Sales. Even without an in-game map, I rarely got lost, and the game did a nice job of leading me in the right direction, guiding me to shortcuts and where to go next. In this regard, the game is well designed and translates the Dark Souls environmental structure to 2D perfectly.
Trapped in a World of Grey Cubical Walls
Visually, environments and enemies are lacking. You end up fighting the same humanoid enemy types through most of the game. They do mix it up with some more unique enemy types, but the lack of variety in this regard makes the combat feel even more tedious.
Environments are also lacking. I was hoping for more environmental variety; instead, areas feel more like palette swaps. The forest area looks and feels similar to the older area you find via a time machine. Floating platforms look the same no matter where you are.
Another disappointing aspect of the game is the lack of music. The only music I encountered was a tune played when you’re near a water cooler and during a boss fight. The lack of music makes the game overall feel dull. It would have been nice to get some ambient music to make the atmosphere of environments shine.
While Dark Sales translates the Dark Souls formula well in some places, but stumbles in others, with mediocre combat taking place in a massive, cleverly-designed but visually uninspiring world.
If you’re itching to play another 2D Souls-inspired game, though, you might find enjoyment in Dark Sales.
Dark Sales is available via Steam.
Check out the official trailer for Dark Sales below: