Darkin is a match-stuff puzzler with pretensions of dungeon-crawling grandeur. Around its slick and quick puzzling core there's a thread of violence and character building that inexorably tightens its compulsion loop around your throat.
The end result is an RPG masquerading as a shape-smashing casual game, or a reasonably shallow puzzling experience extended with stats, slashes, and an overwhelming desire to make sure the next match isn't your last.
And that slightly odd combination creates a game that, while it isn't exactly an original idea, is fresh enough to make it worth a little more exploration.Fangs for that
The main thrust of the game involves linking together chains of matching symbols. Some of these deal damage, some of them heal you, others are lumps of cash that you can spend on upgrades.
You can match the symbols horizontally, vertically, and diagonally, and bigger strings get you bigger rewards.
Moons fill up a mana bar that, when it's full, lets you select an ability to go in one of four slots at the bottom of the screen.
These can switch symbols around, give you more powerful attacks for a turn, or double the healing power of the heart symbols.
Enemies display how much health they have, and how much damage you need to do to them to take them out of the board. You slaughter bad guys by connecting them in a chain with some fangs, and you can increase the strength of your chompers with coins.
Bosses are stronger and have special powers. Some need to be attacked from a certain direction, others shift enemies about, and there are certain foes who need to be beaten with other symbols too.Dark but not out
Darkin crams a lot of information into its small package, asking you to remember a lot and punishing you if you don't. It's not tough to play, but to succeed you need to be thinking ahead, and not wasting any of the special powers you accrue.
With three different modes, three different clans, and an endless amount of gameplay if you get lucky, there's a solid chunk of fun to experience here.
Darkin is far more engaging than your average puzzler, and if you're willing to put the time and effort into unlocking its content you'll find a mash-up of genres that works on a number of different levels.