You can't buy Dark and Darker yet, it may not ever release, but they will sell you some coffee and a tankard

Dark and Darker concept art
(Image credit: Ironmace)

A mere 10 days ago, developer Ironmace Games announced the delay of Dark and Darker's early access release—news that was not-unexpected given its rolling legal dispute with Nexon. There is a not-insignificant chance thanks to this legal battle that, while this game is definitely a real thing (and we've played it), it may not ever see a full release.

We'll get to the details of the dispute but, shortly after it began, Ironmace started and then paused a GoFundMe campaign to help with its legal battle. "The reality of the situation is that their end goal is to bleed us dry in court fees," said the developer, and there's no doubting Nexon has the kind of serious resource that could do such a thing to a smaller studio. Ironmace needs cash wherever it can get it.

Which is probably why you can now buy a Dark and Darker themed coffee set for a game you may never play. It's a team-up with coffee brand Madrinas and comes with a wooden tankard, a tub of dark roast instant coffee, and a bag of darker roast (geddit) coffee beans for $49.99 (plus exorbitant shipping). It seems to have been a good wheeze anyway, as the box set has already sold out and now you can only buy the coffees separately. 

Dark and Darker fans roughly split into two camps. There's the die-hards who regard Ironmace as the little guy fighting big bully Nexon, and have rushed to support this. Then there's a more fatalistic crew who wonder whether they'll ever see the game and whether Ironmace is taking this fight seriously or just making as much as it can, as fast as it can, before the wheels come off. One wag asked Ironmace if this was the same coffee served at Nexon.

Needless to say the Nexon stuff looms large over everything about this game. Short version: The game was due to release in early access in April or May, its demo was a major hit at Steam Next Fest, and shortly after this its dispute with Nexon intensified and Ironmace was issued with a cease-and-desist. Nexon says Dark and Darker is based on concepts and assets that the developers, formerly of Nexon, stole from one of its cancelled projects.

Following this the demo was removed from Steam, with the next playtest build being distributed by Bittorrent (really), while Ironmace's studio was raided by police before it accused Nexon of "nothing more than anti-competitive bully tactics designed to put a small indie firm out of business." The fans are very much on Ironmace's side here, but these are major allegations from a giant publisher, so this may not end up where public opinion is hoping. We'll keep an eye on Dark and Darker and, if the worst comes to the worst, I'm sure the tankard does just as good a job at holding sorrow-drowning whiskey.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."