Escape the Dark Sector (2020)

Escape the Dark Sector (2020) is Themeborne’s science fiction themed follow-up to Escape the Dark Castle. It introduces a number of new mechanics, but at the core, the experience is largely the same: escape your cell, explore the station, try not to die, then probably die, because it is still really hard to not die!

Dark Sector adds some tactics to the mix. The players can, if they have ranged weapons, opt for ranged combat before closing in for hand-to-hand. One character per round can opt to flank for a bonus. While in ranged combat, too, you can remain in cover and perform non-combat actions (so long as SOMEONE on your team is shooting, otherwise, close combat begins). Being in cover means avoiding potential damage, too, which is a bit relaxing after Dark Castle.

The inventory system is more robust, allowing for up to four items, depending on their size. Ammo is a thing, with different types having variable effectiveness depending on the enemy. Every character has a cybernetic enhancement as well, which is another tool in the toolbox. Oh, and Dark Sector has the best health tracker! Dark Castle just has a notepad, while the collector’s box introduced a tracker styled as a chain that uses little black skulls, which is cool. But Dark Sector uses pre-printed EKG charts, so you can plot the peaks and valleys of your HP until you flatline. I love it.

Alex Crispin’s art fare pretty good here, too! I thought shifting gears to science fiction might mess things up, but that is definitely not the case. I might like the Dark Sector art a hair better, even. Oh, and the sold-separately soundtrack is a banger, featuring some nice synthwave influences.

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