They called it Perfect Dark. For me, it was one of the first shooters, I’ve ever played. The thrill of being a special agent with the license to kill in a somewhat dystopian setting was captivating in itself, but there was this one occasion, where the game explained its title. During all the firefights, I was forced to enter an elevator. A moment of calm.
Then, out of nowhere, the lights turn out. Dramatic music kicks in. Chills. A few more seconds, before the elevator stops. Just enough time for me to equip the nightvision googles. Everything turns into green silhouettes. I can see the enemy, but they can’t see me. I’m Joanna Dark. This is Perfect Dark, indeed.
Today, almost 20 years later, this scene no longer looks so spectacular as I remember it. But exactly this moment summed up all the strengths of the game: A mysterious cyberpunk setting, somewhere between Deus Ex and No One Lives Forever, never knowing what’s behind the next corner and yet feeling as prepared as I could be, for every situation somewhere between reality and science fiction. Perfect Dark combined gameplay, aesthetics and music like no other game for me at that time and this moment represented it all. Its successor, Perfect Dark Zero, unfortunately failed exactly in this regard. And yet I still secretly hope for a sequel. Simply to re-embody the coolest female protagonist in an action game to date, to be Joanna Dark and to face the perfect darkness once again.
Perfect Dark was developed by Rareware and published for the Nintendo 64 in May 2000. It was re-issued as part of the “Rare Replay Collection” for Xbox One.
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