Digital Extremes is building The Darkness II around its writing, according to a Gamasutra (opens in new tab) interview with project director Sheldon Carter. It's an approach that lets writer and comic author Paul Jenkins shape the narrative experience that Digital Extremes places at the forefront of the game.
Carter explains that while Jenkins writes the script, the Digital Extremes team makes adjustments to it based on gameplay needs. For example, the demo shown at conventions opens with mobster Jackie Estacado nailed to a cross while his demonic powers are siphoned away. Carter explains that scene was the product of how Jenkins and the development team influence each other's work.
"...It's written in the script as 'Jackie is trapped by Victor and the Brotherhood, and then he escapes.' Right? And then we're like okay, let's crucify Jackie here! And we'll have a quicktime event to break free. We're going to have the siphon thing. So, it's definitely not a hypodermic approach where [Jenkins is] like, here's the script, and we're like okay we're go. It's definitely a two way interaction."
Strong writing and characterization elevated Starbreeze's original The Darkness (which sadly never made it over to PC) into a cult classic. As I wrote when I previewed The Darkness II at PAX East, PC audiences may not have anything invested in this story, since the original was console-only. At the same time, Digital Extremes must contend with the very high standard that Starbreeze set with the first game, where gameplay and story were skilfully, and at times heart-breakingly, integrated. When it comes to making a sequel, taking cues from the writing is probably a wise decision.