Shot in the Dark is a retro 2D platformer with a very minimal art style. It uses primarily only two colors, black and white, as well as some red to accent some things. The lack of color and low resolution graphics lead to very interesting and creative level designs and game play mechanics.
The game is very straight forward. You can move the protagonist forward, backward, jump, shoot, and reload. You are using a revolver so you are limited to six bullets and you reload one bullet at a time. The mechanics are very straight forward but the game gets increasingly difficult because you have to handle platforming while shooting enemies and avoiding enemy fire, all at the same time. It gets very hectic very fast.
The minimal art style also leads to some very interesting level design elements. The game is intelligently designed and does a great job in subtly showing you how to overcome an obstacle when it first introduces it. For example, one of the first difficulties a player will face is a level where both the ground and the background is just a solid black color. The problem is that the enemies are also a solid black color and cannot be distinguished from the level. The solution is to wait and watch the little patches of white grass to look for small signs of movement.
Another example is the game introducing invisible platforms. The game conveniently places rain to show the placement of the blocks the first time through and later on makes it a bit harder by having enemies run on the platform to give the rough location. Once you shoot them, their blood highlights the platform’s general location as well.
Overall, Shot in the Dark makes for an excellent study in creative level design while using minimal assets. The game controls well for the most part, although the aiming and shooting mechanic can feel a bit slow for some of the more hectic and fast paced levels. The soundtrack is also great and some of the tracks are very reminiscent of the original Metroid for the NES. Shot in the Dark is an enjoyable platformer with a retro feel and a high difficulty level.