The idea of a personal, rocket-powered flight device has captured man's imagination for decades, yet the reality of such a device remains depressingly distant. This disparity between dream and reality mirrors the experience of playing Dark Void. There are moments when jetpack flight is joyous, free-wheeling fun, such as when you're pulling daring acrobatic manoeuvres, dog-fighting with UFOs and boldly zooming around enclosed areas. It gives you a thrilling taste of the speedy promise of a jetpack-powered world, yet this fantasy is too often brought down to earth by the rest of Dark Void's gameplay. The third-person shooter sections are competent but mundane, and there are long sections when fully powered flight isn't possible. Furthermore, the campaign is only about eight hours long and there are no multiplayer modes to bolster replayability. While there is certainly high-flying fun to be had, the lacklustre action hinders Dark Void's lofty ambitions.
Unfortunately, the first few hours of the game don't do much to get your hopes up. After a perfunctory and pointless prologue, you begin the game proper on your own two feet. Dark Void has a sticky cover system, and much of the on-foot shooter action relies on moving from cover to cover. Some of these sections have vertical areas where taking cover means leaning over the edge of a platform or hanging below one and aiming upward. It's a novel twist, and it shakes up your spatial awareness in a way you'll appreciate once you take to the skies. Shooting mechanics are competent, and you can upgrade your run-of-the-mill weapons to make them fairly fun to shoot. Enemies are very resilient to your weapon fire, though a few shots to the head will yield a satisfying explosion and taking cover is often prudent. However, you can kill most of your enemies with one punch, and this makes sitting behind cover and firing feel slow and ineffective. Dark Void counters this by throwing more enemies at you, and at the end of skirmishes you generally feel a mild sense of satisfaction. Yet the freedom and speed of jetpack flight is an ever-present prospect, casting its shadow over the third-person shooter sections and making them feel a bit like extra padding.
Your first flight entails little more than hovering, but it gives you a taste for exploring and using vertical space. Dark Void takes circle-strafing to a whole new level, and shooting down on enemies can increase your chance of scoring headshots. Hovering does leave you more exposed to enemy fire, but it also allows you to zip over to an enemy and deliver a deadly melee attack. There are a number of ways to dispose of your enemies during combat, including some high-impact quick-time events for bigger enemies and taking advantage of this variety can make the ho-hum combat slightly more engaging. But even though your enemies change, their appearance does not vary significantly. It can start to feel repetitive, despite Dark Void's solid level design.