Still, if you like an old-school shooter this one does have a few interesting ideas. The biggest is probably the mist of the title. It fills most of the rooms in each dungeon, restricting your vision, concealing monsters and covering fatal drops. You can disperse the area around you by performing a spinning melee attack, activated by shaking your sixaxis controller, or occasionally clear whole rooms of the evil fog by destroying particular creatures.
Secondly, you do at least have more than one weapon to play with. The square button (or the second stick in twin-stick mode) handles your main weapon while the circle button dishes out a good old fashioned smart bomb. The triangle button, however, unleashes your current special attack. You have three of these, selectable using the L2 and R2 buttons, ranging from a long-range, bouncing ‘meteor attack to a shotgun-like starburst and a short-range heavy blast. Ammunition for these attacks isn’t unlimited, but you can easily stock up by collecting moon fragments from downed enemies.
It might be simple, but on a minute by minute basis Dark Mist is surprisingly addictive. The blasting is relentless and certain monsters require a little tactical consideration if you want to confront them and survive. The game plays some nice little tricks on you by hiding doors, pathways and gaping chasms in the mist, and while there’s not a whole lot of variety in the graphics or the creatures, there’s still a sense of progression as you move from level to level. The difficulty rises nicely as you move through the game and even the occasional boss battles prove relatively enjoyable. If it weren’t for a series of bewildering design decisions, I’d have it down as a basic but entertaining little shooter.
Sadly, several issues put that out of the question. First, there are no mid-level checkpoints or save game option. Every time you die you have to do the whole level from scratch, and should you quit the game, you’ll have to play the whole thing from the beginning. The brevity of the levels and the provision of infinite continues softens the blow, but the longer the game goes on the more it turns into a bit of a grind. Can you really face clearing out that set of rooms again, or do you just want to hang up your bow and try something less demanding instead? And while you can select levels from the game’s score attack mode, you can only crack away at these once you’ve unlocked them in the main game. Frankly, I think completing the game in one sitting – which is effectively what you’re being asked to do – is a little too much like hard work. Once you get to the last chamber of a dungeon level only to be wiped out for the sixth or seventh time, it’s all too tempting to give up.