A Completed Game Doesn't Matter in Dark Matter [UPDATE]S

Recently released on Steam, and developed by InterWave Studios, the folks that did Nuclear Dawn, Dark Matter is touted as a 2.5D, side-scrolling, Survival-Horror title, based around exploration and visceral combat, and features a heavy emphasis on real-time lighting, due to the dark environments in the game.

It's also touted, and marketed, as a finished game. Here is the current game description, as seen on Steam:

About the Game

Dark Matter is a 2.5D side-scrolling survival horror game, set in a derelict spaceship besieged by a sinister alien presence, and infested with deadly parasites. As the Ensign, you must explore fetid hallways and abandoned facilities, scavenging for parts and blueprints, expanding your arsenal to up to four deadly weapons and freely customize each to fit your combat style against intelligent, reactive enemies. Dark Matter delivers a hard-hitting take on the survival horror genre in deep space, with a heavy emphasis on tactical combat and exploration.

Story

Out of breath, you run into the door, slamming against its cold metal surface. The clicking of scuttling claws recedes into the distance, swallowed by the pitch black oblivion behind you. You know better than to feel safe. There are too many infested at your back, and another blank metal door ahead. With a quick reflex you check your ammo supplies, and slot a fresh magazine into your shotgun. With a quicker prayer, you flick the switch and open the door. The metal jaws open on endless night you don’t dare pierce with your flashlight, not to disturb those things that live in shadow. By the pale bioluminescence that washes up from the floor grates, you piece together the picture of a corridor, and what could be a stretch of exploding pods. Just beyond, the silhouette of a fully grown crawler stirs.

Grinning in the dark, you turn on the weapon’s flashlight, and point it straight down the corridor. Predictably, the blisters swell up to full irritation, ready to explode at the slightest touch. The crawler turns to hiss at you, instantly aroused by the light, and your presence. In your mind’s eye, it dumbly rushes forward into the blister pods to kill itself, saving you precious ammo.

It takes a precious moment to adjust to reality when the sleek shape crouches and jumps towards you instead. There is time for just one panicked shot before the inevitable flight, as you run for your life, barely keeping ahead of the claws slashing for you. In a moment of adrenaline-fuelled inspiration, you slam the wall panel as you retreat past the chamber’s door. The heavy, powerful mechanism smoothly slices the crawler in half just before the critter can reach and disembowel you. There is no time to congratulate yourself, as you hear a familiar hissing from above...

Key features:

  • 14 levels in a gritty tale of deep space survival
  • 4 weapons, each with 4 ammo types. Elemental ammo effects that allow you to freeze, dissolve, electrocute or set fire to your enemies.
  • Four craftable upgrades to customize your weapons.
  • Collect scrap and alien resources to craft your own tools and health packs.
  • Invest in the weapons and upgrades you prefer, develop your own combat techniques.
  • Non-linear exploration and storytelling with complex enemy AI that reacts to the player’s actions and tactics.
  • Light and darkness are integral parts of gameplay, not just visual touches.
  • Uncompromisingly real-time lights and shadow casting for spine-tingling moments of pure, darkness-fuelled terror.
  • Clean, hand-painted textures and custom shading techniques are combined in a unique visual style.
  • Dynamic soundtrack that adapts to gameplay circumstances.

However, a 'To Be Continued' screen popped up for Steam user PinkiePenguin after progressing approximately 4.5 hours into Dark Matter. And, as many people who are dissatisfied with a recently bought title are known to do, with good reason, PinkiePenguin took to the game's Community Hub to make known their complaint.

"To Be Continued..."?
I just reached the Biolab after killing the Queen and getting the Grenade Launcher. I enter the Toxic Materials area, and instead of a new map, I'm greeted with a wall of flavor text that sends me back to the main menu. It even said "Click to return to the Main Screen" at the end. WTF IS GOING ON HERE!?

Instead of disputing the claim, InterWave developer, Viper, also proclaimed that Dark Matter is an unfinished title, due to the fact that it's Kickstarter had failed.

Hello, just to answer all these questions.

No, the full story is indeed not complete yet because originally we wanted a longer game (12-16 hours) but couldnt finish it completely due to time and money (and Kickstarter failing). So, we choose to go with a 6-8 hour game instead to bring something out to the world and show everyone the world of Dark Matter. We are going to change the "to be continued" text to something else, to make sure this will be the end of the game as is in a clear msg to everyone.

When met with backlash by other Steam members, Viper commented with this, just a few moments later:

What I meant is, with a successful Kickstarter we could have made a longer game, expanded the story. But then it would likely have been more expensive too. The current Dark Matter on Steam is a complete game in itself though.

There are many things to explore and many ways to go through and many things to discover. If people just run through it then yes it will be less then those 6 hours.

So, it seems the game is complete, but it is also incomplete? It would make sense, one would assume, that they will create an episodic game, if enough people buy the title right now. Dark Matter would be much akin to The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead Telltale Games titles.

However, keep in mind that this game is, actually, incomplete in their eyes, as their Kickstarter was a bust. This means that they are giving you what they had completed and are selling it as a finished game, though they wanted it to be longer.

This also means that you are paying for a chance to pay for a sequel, that will continue the story, if they ever actually make one.

And, as stated by [ICE]_Beastman, another developer:

It does have an ending. Just says TBC but this should be You Beat Da Game or something like it. Bug that will be addressed.
So, the 'To Be Continued Message' is, indeed, just a bug, and the game is complete, which is along the lines of what Viper stated above.
I mean there is currently a message that says To Be Continued when you have finished the game. This was left there, dunno for sure but maybe as a teaser for potential sequels. We noted it causes confusion so we will take this out.

You probably CAN finish the game in 4 hours. I recall playing Resident Evil 3 and being able to finish it in under 2 hours. Just rush rush rush don't shoot anyone etc. If you read all documents etc in DM and want to experience it as the tactical game that it is, and have a more normal tempo, the game should take quite a bit longer than 4 hours. Nobody's claiming it will take 20 hours though.
There is nothing about the gameplay time on the Steam Store. How fast you finish is really up to your own style of play.
But PinkiePenguin was quick to defend himself after [ICE]_Beastman's comment:
Excuse me, but I read ALL of the text logs and explored every inch of the maps. It still only took me 4 and a half hours to beat.
So there you have it folks. Dark Matter is part of a full game that InterWave didn't have the time, nor money, to make, and is being peddled to you, the consumer, as a full title, which may, or may not, get a sequel that will continue a story that they wanted to put in this release.
Perhaps we are better off putting our money in another episodic game series that always wanted to be an episodic game series.
Unless it's been deleted, at the behest of the developers, here is the Community Forum Hub discussion. At the time of writing it was only two-pages long.
[UPDATE] Steam and GoG have ceased all sales of Dark Matter and are granting full refunds of the game to those requesting one. This comes in light of a recent Steam post, which sates, with video evidence on Twitch, that the game was in Alpha when released for sale.
Thanks, TAY and Kotaku reader Eve Whiran.