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The Reason Everyone Thought Darkwatch Would Become A Major Success

Movies in the western genre typically portray America as a vast frontier, with many places yet to be explored as civilization is still looking to dig its heels in. This is a good personification for the landscape of western video games. Outside of games such as Red Dead Redemption, GUN and Call of Juarez, there really isn't a lot out there. Comparatively, there are also far more titles compared to lists of games set in space or even in other moments in history.


The supernatural genre, however, is packed with titles. Narrow that down to games specifically about vampires and you have some all-time classics. Look no further than the Castlevania franchiseBloodrayne, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines and 2018's Vampyr for your nocturnal consideration.

In 2005, long before John Marsten became the default face of western video games, developer High Moon Studios decided to merge these two genres together and create something unique. Enter Darkwatch: Curse of the West.

Horses and horror

Capcom published Darkwatch for the Xbox and Playstation 2 in 2005. Starring Deadwood actor Peter Jason, the game tells the story of Jericho Cross, an outlaw who is looking for Darkwatch, an organization of vampire hunters. During a train heist gone wrong, Jericho accidentally frees Lazarus Malkoth, a most-wanted enemy of Darkwatch and a powerful vampire. During the escape, Malkoth bites Cross, beginning the process of turning him into a vampire.


Being a vampire did come with several perks, though. At night, Jericho's vampirism would allow for abilities such as a double jump, a regenerative shield, a Predator-style infrared vision and more. During the day missions, however, he would revert back to his human self and have to defend himself with more conventional weapons. 

Darkwatch also incorporated a morale system, not unlike those found in Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic and Mass Effect, where Jericho's choices would impact not only how others perceived him, but also the perks on an ever-expanding skill tree. This all culminated in an ultimate battle and Jericho's final choice, which would determine what the ending was.

This game seemed to have a lot going for it.


Darkwatch 2? And a movie?

Reviews were generally positive for Darkwatch, with GameSpot and IGN praising the game's controls and setting. There was going to be more Darkwatch, as an entire series was originally planned, telling the story of the Darkwatch organization in other historical periods, very similar to how Assassin's Creed showcases the Assassins and Templars. Sadly, none of the planned followups ever materialized.


Although the game was eventually cancelled, Darkwatch 2 was shown in demo form at 2006's GDC. Beyond that, there were some rumblings of a Darkwatch movie that has come up over the past several years. However, such a film has not yet been made.

Today, High Moon Studios' work can be seen in games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War and Destiny 2, but Darkwatch will always hold a special place among other hidden gems of its time. With this unique pairing of genres, deep mechanics, and a rich story coupled with online multiplayer, Darkwatch definitely gave players something to really sink their teeth into.