Dark Matter, the new game from Nuclear Dawn developer InterWave Studios, has a gigantic, glaring problem: It is literally unfinished. The Steam forums are full of customers complaining after they found out that the otherwise rather decent game abruptly ends (No spoilers) about four hours in with a black screen full of white text that basically says “This is the end of the game, click anywhere to return to the main menu” after entering a random, seemingly unimportant door. This is what Erik Schreuder, CEO of Iceberg Studios, had to say on the issue:
“Dark Matter was originally planned to be a self-funded game, but in able to elaborate more on the immersive story-line, a Kickstarter project was devised. The idea was to make it a larger, more epic title, with significantly more levels and selling at full price ($30). Sadly, the Kickstarter project failed to reach the target amount and this idea had to be abandoned.
The idea was then formed to make Dark Matter an episodic series, with episodes selling at a budget price of $14.99. Any further episodes would, however, need to be dependent on the success of the previous installment. The first installment is what has launched recently on Steam and is simply called Dark Matter.
We would like to stress that the game is exactly as described on Steam (including that it contains 14 levels) – it is simply not true that the game is unfinished, or unplayable. Some people have misquoted the developer as having admitted that the game is incomplete; we should reiterate that what was meant was that this is not the $30 full-priced game, but the episodic budget version (currently selling at $13,49 at 10% off).
There are presently something like 5-9 hours of absorbing and highly entertaining gameplay to be had. However, like with all games, it is possible for the game to take longer or indeed a shorter time to complete, if you do not explore all areas and collect all pick-ups. We still feel, like many gamers have also posted, that the game offers value for money and is an enjoyable gaming experience throughout.
It is true however, that at present, the end of the game may cause confusion and is not satisfactory. We sincerely apologize for this, as it is not of the standard we would expect. We are working to offer a more conclusive and satisfying ending to the game as we speak and expect a fix to appear as soon we are able to.”
As the Steam forums show, this is hardly a satisfactory response to the customers who already purchased the game under the impression that it was a full, self-contained title. The product blurbs on Steam, GOG, and other digital platforms that sell the game say nothing about the title apparently being the first release in an episodic series. Sad really, because the general opinion from those who have played the game seems to indicate that is was a promising title, but the abrupt “ending” and uncertainty surrounding the future of Dark Matter make it a hard sell.
I can’t help but feel that most of this controversy could have been avoided had InterWave just released the game under the Steam Early Access section, instead of trying to market and sell it as a full, finished title.