Darklings is a unique touch screen action game available on the Apple App store (reviewed on iPad here). Play as a glowing Lum creature who can’t move, but can possess approaching creatures called Darklings. If these Darklings touch the Lum, you lose the game, so you must possess the creatures that come from the left and right sides to survive. Each Darkling has a symbol above its head. Draw that symbol on the touch screen to possess that creature. Keep doing that to survive wave after wave of Darklings.
When you make combos by possessing a bunch of Darklings in a row, or when you stay in your Lum form for a few seconds, stars will fly out. Drag these stars to you to collect them. Small stars act as currency for the shop, while large stars add to your timer. You’ll also lose the game if you run out of time, so you’ll want to try and drag stars to you when you’re not possessing Darklings. After every few waves, you’ll fight a boss, which just involves more speedy symbol drawing. Use the stars you’ve collected to buy power-ups and costumes in the shop, although it was a little unclear to me how those power-ups were activated. Seemed almost random.
It took me a few tries to figure out how to play the game, so when I realized how simple it was, I felt like an idiot. The only problem I had with the game is that you can’t start from where you left off. But then, this kind of feels like one of those old arcade games where you always start at the beginning and try to get as far as you can and beat your highest scores. There is also a gallery where you can view the Darkling creatures you’ve possessed, and by looking at the gallery and my progress, it doesn’t look like a very long game. But if you enjoy challenging, unique little action games, you may want to invite some Darklings into your home (and for some reason, this game reminded me of a PSP title called Patapon).
Even though the game is set in dark, spooky forests and caves, I can’t imagine most kids being scared of the creatures. They’re more cute than creepy anyway. Reading skill is helpful for the text, but with a little help, anyone can figure out how to play. Younger gamers may get frustrated and/or bored at the high difficulty and limited gameplay scope, though.