Dark and Darker review bombed on Steam for free release that is ‘actually a demo’

After more than a year of legal battles and absence, Dark and Darker has finally found its way back to the biggest PC platform, Steam. The game’s return was long-awaited—but not so warmly welcomed—as players are now review-bombing it for its “misleading” free-to-play model.

Dark and Darker was brought back to Steam on June 7, after the developers announced its re-release during this year’s Summer Game Fest. It launched as a free-to-play, early-access title, granting players the opportunity to give the game a few spins before upgrading to the real deal. But many players believe this way of “demoing” the game is misleading, and they have been giving the game a thumbs down on Steam for days, pushing it to a “Mixed” review rating on Valve’s storefront. It’s such a convoluted moment that one review claimed the game should’ve just released with its usual $30 price tag and it would’ve all been smooth sailing from there.

Redstone Shards Currency in Dark and Darker helps you get the Legendary status and cosmetics.
Dark and Darker spent the better part of 2023 absent from Steam. Image via IRONMACE

Ironmace’s “free” version of Dark and Darker includes all the maps and quests, but players are limited to only a single character at a time and cannot equip Uncommon or better loot during runs. This severely limits the game’s gameplay loop, as players are bound to find swathes of uncommon and rarer items during almost every match, rendering most of their gear useless unless they upgrade to the “Legendary Status,” and unlock the full version of the game.

“The F2P version is actually a demo,” one review reads. “Announcing it on the Steam page could avoid the unpleasant surprise of being faced with a $30 paywall.” The game also allegedly cannot be refunded on Steam, another review claimed, since the full version is unlocked through an in-game currency, rather than a direct purchase from the Steam store. At the moment, Dark and Darker has a meager 48 percent positive reviews on the platform.

Reviews, being mixed, aren’t unanimous. Many of the reviews have been getting tagged with dozens of “clown” rewards, and players discussing them in the comments claim that Ironmace opted for this model to allow existing players a smoother experience in transferring their progress from the developer’s launcher.

Ironmace also responded to the whole ordeal yesterday, on June 9, claiming it introduced such a model so existing players didn’t have to re-purchase the game. The developer didn’t “anticipate” the reaction or how the model would be received, however, and is currently “working on solutions” that would appease both existing and new players.

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