Darkwatch – Oh, what could have been

For whatever reason, I was playing Vampyr and thought to myself: What happened to Darkwatch? Combating the forces of darkness in the Wild West was a fun time. It’s a shot in the dark to assume that Darkwatch would get a second life, but you never know and it’s fun to speculate.

Developed by High Moon Studios and published by Capcom; Darkwatch centered around Jericho Cross, a gun-slinger and train robber whose one last job sees him running into a vampire lord and subsequently being turned into a vampire himself. He is then recruited by the Darkwatch organization to hunt the vampire lord and depending on the actions of the player, Jericho can either succumb to the dark temptations or become a hero who fights for humanity.

Set in the post-Civil War era, Darkwatch was a first-person shooter in which Jericho’s abilities as a gunslinger are amplified due to his transformation. Decisions in the game would affect your abilities, being good would grant silver bullets for example, while being bad would grant the ability to turn allies into the undead to fight for you. During daylight sections, Jericho wouldn’t be able to use any of his vampirc abilities so the character was given a variety of weapons to dispatch enemies. Darkwatch’s ending left the door wide open for a franchise, but unfortunately, nothing came of it.

Today, the first-person genre is over-saturated and there is difficulty in standing out with the Battlefields and Call of Duty’s of the world. There are rare instances, such as Bioshock and Deus Ex, in which different gameplay mechanics are introduced to break up the monotony of gunplay. Darkwatch could be a combination of both and it could feature a multiplayer similar to Hunt Showdown or Evolve, in which players compete against one another to eliminate an ancient Vampire threat. One player could assume the role of the ancient Vampire and then choose to either hunt or become the hunted.

There was a variety of directions that High Moon Studios could take with Darkwatch if the game was remade today. Keeping with an action-heavy aesthetic would be fine, but shifting toward a more horror-heavy tone in a similar fashion as Resident Evil 7 would be perfect. Keep with the Wild West setting and then expand on the vampiric powers and you have a recipe for what would be a fascinating game. Because it has been so long since Darkwatch was initially released, the franchise can be completely rebooted and modernized so that it can be enjoyed by today’s audience.

It’s always fun to imagine what could have been. While the door is still open for a franchise like Timesplitters to make a comeback and hopefully this happens soon, Darkwatch is largely forgotten. It was released during a time in which Call of Duty, Halo, and other franchises were starting to find their footing. Even if there were a sequel, there was never a guarantee that it would have a lasting impact. If a game like Vampyr sells well and ends up being widely popular, then there is a chance that a game like Darkwatch could become successful as well.

Darkwatch was a game that should’ve gotten way more love than it did. It was solid first-person shooter with a good setting and a surprisingly strong narrative. It didn’t breakdown any barriers, but the mechanics featured within the game could have easily been expanded upon in future installments. This was a game that was practically setup to be a future franchise in Capcom’s library. Imagine it coupled with Resident Evil and Devil May Cry, it would’ve been quite the trifecta. There was a lot of potential for Darkwatch and because we live in a generation of remasters and remakes, what better time for Jericho Cross to make a return?

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