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Video Game / Operation Darkness

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A mix of WWII and Fantasy/Sci-Fi. Doesn't that sound awesome or does it sound awesome?

"The gist is that after the introduction of a clear and dominant evil, and to continue on to show the absence of the clear villain and the chaos that flows after it, it was necessary to place Hitler in Operation Darkness as a symbol of the true evil."
- Ken Ogura (main producer of Operation Darkness when he was asked in an interview why Adolf Hitler was placed in the game as a major antagonist)

Operation Darkness is a turn-based tactical RPG developed for the Xbox 360 by Japanese studio Success and released in late 2007 in Japan and most of Southeast/East Asia. It was licensed to Atlus for its North American release in mid-2008. The game was released once again in 2010 in Xbox Live, which also included a Europe-wide release in the same year.

A fairly standard take on the tried-and-true mashup of World War II and the occult, the game follows a squad of SAS soldiers - the Wolf Pack (Officially known to the Allied Military forces as K Company, 1st Platoon) - fighting the Nazis across the European Theater and eventually attempting to assassinate Adolf Hitler himself to win the war for the Allied cause. The so-called Wolf Pack's membership includes Edward and Jude, a pair of infantry soldiers reassigned after their last mission resulted in the death of their platoon; Cordelia, a firestarter; James Gallant, the leader (and a werewolf); Keith, the point man; Frank, a close-combat specialist; Cynthia, a top-heavy Irish sniper; Herbert East, a medic and the only character who can revive dead soldiers; and, um...Jack the Ripper. A descendant of Van Helsing joins in the fight as well as a reanimated dead German soldier in a Jin-Roh-like battle armor suit. Together, they take on the German military and its allies, the vampire legion known as the Blood Clan led by an officer named Alexander Vlado and his right hand woman Carmilla in order to prevent the entire world from being placed into total chaos.

Generally very poorly received by critics, the game has nonetheless found its cult following worldwide, most of whom will admit that it has more than its share of flaws (The nearly complete lack of any kind of tutorial, there's very little explanation of the effective use of cover mechanics, the abounding Narm) (that the entire main cast is voiced by popular professional VA's helps too) but remains enjoyable nonetheless as a result of its handful of unique gameplay mechanics and its straight-faced treatment of its decidedly ridiculous and somewhat Troperiffic subject matter.

This game provides examples of:

  • Alternate History: The premise is "What if vampires and werewolves with a dash of black magic got involved in World War II?"
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Jude is captured by the Blood Clan and turned into a vampire, forcing the Wolf Pack to kill him when they meet again.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • The SAS is stated to normally be based out of Hereford. In reality, the SAS wasn't based out of Hereford until 1960 (And were disbanded after the war then reformed before that happened)
    • Cordelia is stated to have been with the British Army Special Forces since she was 13. The UK Special Forces was created in the 80's, and the British Commandos were formed in 1940 (Both are also part of all three branches of the armed forces). The game starts in 1942, meaning the oldest she could possibly be is 15.
    • Cynthia was born in Northern Ireland, and mentions her family were killed in a terrorist attack when she was a child as part of The Troubles... which didn't start until about two decades after World War Two. There were two series of attacks before the Troubles, but they happened during the 1940's and 50's, and resulted in zero Northern Irish civilians being killed.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: According to this game, Hitler is an archmage capable of summoning dragons.
  • Big Bad: Despite the Nazis being the enemies of the Allies and Hitler and his party being major antagonists, Alexander Vlado is ultimately the main threat, being that he plans to use the war as part of a ceremony to resurrect the vampire overlord Count Dracula.
  • Dub Name Change: Herbert East was just outright called Herbert West in the original Japanese version. Presumably it was changed in the other versions to avoid copyright infringement.
  • Early Game Hell: Before the supernatural aspects of the Wolf Pack are revealed, you can't lose a single member during any of the battles, to say nothing of the fact that the game doesn't bother to ease the player into any of the mechanics. The game doesn't necessarily become easier afterwards, but Herbert's revive ability makes battles less overtly punishing.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: Frank Gaunt is the monster from the story, which is part of the reason for all the stitches on his body.
  • Friendly Sniper: Cynthia is both a jovial young lady and a supernaturally accurate sniper.
  • Fur Against Fang: The werewolves (fur) are on the Allies side, and the vampires (fangs) are Nazis.
  • Genius Bruiser: Frank Gaunt is a large burly man who is well-spoken and well-read.
  • Ghostapo: The main antagonists are vampires allied with the Nazis. The higher-ups including Hitler himself also dabble in magic.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Blood Clan are only working with the Nazis to resurrect their progenitor, Count Dracula.
  • Historical Domain Character: Besides Hitler himself, Heinrich Himmler, Jack the Ripper, Michael Wittmann, and David Stirling all make appearances, though Stirling is renamed to Starling for some reason.
  • Jiggle Physics: The busts Carmilla and Cynthia's character models jiggle around rather distractingly.
  • The Medic: Though all combatants are capable of healing via items, Herbert East actually has the ability to revive downed allies.
  • New Meat: Edward and Jude - at least new to the Wolf Pack. Edward, particularly, couldn't have been in the Army for long at his age.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Vampire Nazi mages with Driving tanks. And they're fighting against werewolves wielding guns and bazookas.
  • Nintendo Hard: Both critics and fans of the game will agree that it is brutal, especially early on. Many of the battlefields are littered with mines that can't be easily viewed from the camera perspectives provided, and complications such as reinforcements often show up at what appear to be the end of long and grueling battles.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: True to his name, James Gallant is a polite and noble officer.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Both vampires and werewolves are effectively immortal and ageless in this setting, with vampires being able to raise the dead and werewolves granting immortality and other superhuman abilities (though not necessarily their lycanthropy) to humans via blood transfusions.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Wolf Pack consists of a pyrokinetic, a man capable of raising the dead, Jack the Ripper, the descendant of Van Helsing, and two centuries-old werewolves, among other assorted empowered characters.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: German tank ace Michael Wittmann voluntarily leaves a battle with the Wolf Pack in disgust over the SS's use of reanimated German soldiers which in his opinion is defiling the corpses of brave men.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Staking the Loved One: The Wolf Pack are forced to kill Jude after he's turned into a vampire by the Blood Clan.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Jude initially believes he's being demoted to a noncombatant role when he's put in the Wolf Pack due to Cordelia's inclusion among their ranks. Keith quickly puts him in his place regarding his sexism. It should be noted though that Jude's mindset wasn't exactly uncommon at the time.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Shockingly averted. The Nazis still use conventional weaponry. It's just that they also have sorcerers and vampires among their ranks.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: They're working with vampires capable of raising zombies for one thing. For another thing, their higher-ups are actually sorcerers.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Nazi Party as a whole is this to the Blood Clan, who are just using them to resurrect Count Dracula.
  • Visual Initiative Queue: The turn order for both the playable and enemy units is shown on the right side of the screen.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: If Herbert East doesn't revive a dead ally by the end of the mission, they're gone for good. Any story-centric character (Edward, Jude, Cordelia, or Gallant) dying is an automatic Game Over.