Dark Sheep is a horror-puzzle game by the developer of Hack Grid, and a love letter to the Commodore 64. Joining a new cult, you are expected to do ignoble deeds for the sake of resurrecting the Dark Lord.
Developer: Daisy Games
Released: 23 April 2021
As part of your unholy ritual, you will kidnap sheep by using the grass as bait, fatten them up while under your custody, sacrifice them on pentagrams…and maybe kill a person or two. All in the name of the Dark Lord’s glorious return! The question remains, will dabbling with otherworldly entities bring about undesirable results?
Dark Sheep is based heavily on the classic block-pushing game Sokoban, with new twists. The game includes 40 levels spread across 4 chapters, with each chapter having new mechanics and goals. For example, the first chapter requires you to lure the sheep to their cages using the grass, while the second requires you to simply feed them all the grass.
Just like Sokoban, you can’t pull the sacrificial lambs so you must plan accordingly and be careful not to push them into walls or corners. They must also eat all the grass, and to make matters more difficult, two sheep cannot take the same path, and you can’t move any of them off the grass. There’s more: some of the cattle can only eat certain colors of pasture, and then there are farmlands that dye their wools purple and prevent them from moving on previously legal paths. In some levels, there are several plots of lands separated by one-way paths, forcing you to solve each plot whilst also figuring out how to not get yourself locked out!
Dark Sheep includes a retry and undo feature. Though they are very handy, undoing is severely limited and utterly useless most of the time, since it lets you reverse only the last action, but by the time I thought of using it I would have made about five or six moves after getting stuck.
Sometimes you must do something else to finish your tasks. This may include finding weapons and killing people to progress. Although these tasks are disturbing, thankfully they are not too graphically detailed and there weren’t much of them either, though they bloody your character’s robe.
Dark Sheep reminds me of two things: B-rated horror movies with gratuitous blood spilling and sacrificial rituals to revive hideous demonic creatures, and the pixel-art horror game Faith. The minimal and simple C64 artstyle fits the game well, leaving most of the details to your imagination whilst also giving the feeling of dead nights spent in forests or ominous buildings. Just as well, the music for chapter 1 is eerie, while chapter 2 is a bit more familiar though it still evokes dread of what’s coming.
Overall, Dark Sheep gets a lot of things right. The puzzles are multi-layered but not overwhelming, and there’s plenty of levels that take you about two to three hours before completion. Plus, if you like competing for scores, the game includes a scoreboard recording your least moves in levels, as well as level pars that you can try to beat!
The combination of the plot, primitive graphics, and simple music come together quite well in giving a Sokoban-style puzzle game (which traditionally involves pushing boxes in a warehouse) a horrific twist without relying on jumpscares, or extreme detail of the murders and sacrifices that happen in the game.
In celebration of the game’s release and courtesy of Daisy Games, we are giving away three itch.io keys of Dark Sheep! For more details and your chance to win (or just to chat about indie games), simply join our friendly Discord server and check out the announcements!