Review: Dark Matter

Side-scrolling horror doesn’t get enough attention, possibly because there is a limit on the market and within that quantity, there is a small number  that successfully execute tension and chills within the confinements of their screen pushing levels. The last such game to be released on the DS, Alien Infestation, was not only a great horror side scroller, but it was the last really enjoyable Aliens game. So thanks to Steam Greenlight, Interwave Studio have given us something new to play in the dark.

• Developer: InterWave Studios
• Publisher: Steam Greenlight
• Reviewed on: PC
• Also Available On: Currently PC only
• Release Date: TBA (US) / TBA (Europe)


You take control of Ensign, a female a crew member of the Endeavor (lot’s of E’s already). In a manner reminiscent of Aliens, particularly that of Ellen Ripley, our heroine has been in cryo-sleep for 70 years – but in that time, her ship has vanished off the radar, her fellow crew are nowhere to be found and monstrous alien parasites have decided to squat on board.

Dark Matter pays homage to sci-fi fan favorites in gaming and films, such as Aliens, Metroid and Portal. The latter references come from the inclusion of an AI companion who offers assistance to Ensign. The AI could be Glados’s brother, given its own emotionless, sarcastic tone as it relays clues along the way about what happened to the crew of the Endeavor. Another method of figuring out what went down whilst Ensign took a lengthy nap, comes from text logs scattered throughout, that shed an eerie dark light of the fate of the ship.


Dark Matter feels like a survival horror title and I personally think there’s a lot of room in the gaming market to be filled by this genre, specifically a good survival horror title set in space. Darkness can make situations extremely tense and Interwave has integrated this in an interesting manner. The monsters you encounter are not at all fond of light and so this can be used tactically by Ensign. But it can also be a double-edged sword, as the light will enrage enemies and cause their strikes to be speedier and their attacks to cause more damage.

Darkness creates tension and lighting is a weapon
A welcome addition to side-scrolling space horror
Repetitive locations

Ammunition and health-packs can be crafted and improved via blueprint findings which can increase the damage they inflict – a teleportation device and hacking tool are also available. Fallen enemies don’t drop health but materials used to craft ammo and health packs – and believe me, you will be crafting a lot of health packs. Reminiscent of Aliens Infestation, key cards are essential for opening some doors, while others can be hacked.

Graphics are appealing and detailed, though given the setting you will see the same backgrounds quite a lot.


Dark Matter is still a work in progress, but so far Interwave have done a stellar job with it and fans of this genre of gaming would not be disappointed if they got their hands on the current version of the game. In saying that, I think it’s worth everyone else keeping an eye on this game and waiting to see how the evolved end product comes out.

Review copy provided by Dead Good Media
Official Game Site Kickstarter Site

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