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Blade of Darkness (Windows)

Mature
ESRB Rating
Genre
Perspective
Theme
79
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.7
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  kbmb (399)
Written on  :  Nov 17, 2002
Rating  :  2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars

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Summary

A very repetitive and difficult bloody action hack 'n slash adventure which wasn't that much fun, really.

The Good

The levels in this game are quite large and give a lot of feeling as to what was once here, what is here, or what lead to its destruction. Many levels require you to climb through ruined buildings or castle walls to reach other locations, and can bring you to a height where you can get a good view of the entire level - it can be quite a sight. And you might fall off, and that's fun to watch, too.

The game is hard. Really hard. Not just because the puzzles are too tough, but because the enemy in battle is smart, and you'll have to use your wits to defeat him. Running into a fight with your sword swinging madly isn't going to work on every monster. The monsters will dodge your attacks by parrying or blocking it with their shield, or they might stand back and wait for you to attack first, which they'll usually be prepared for. To aid you, you can target a monster so that your view and stance always stays on him. Along with your view and stance, your movement will work in relation to him - if you side-step, you'll circle him, rather than just walk to the side.

You have four characters to choose from and a variety of weapons to use in your adventure - some very unique and vicious. From bows to swords to chopped off limbs, each weapon is more suited to a specific character, but each is able to use any weapon. You can also retrieve your arrows from walls, the ground, or enemies for later use.

As your character grows in levels, you'll notice the difference in battle. Not only because your character suddenly has more life, but because you'll have more energy to swing your weapon, and can swing larger weapons with more ease.

There are many monsters to deal with, and with each one of them you're able to deal some pretty hefty damage to them. From a simple final blow that knocks them to the ground in a bloody heap to an ultra-violent end with missing limbs or a head or maybe even their entire body cut in half! You're even able to pick up a limb or head and use it as a weapon (though I can't see why you'd want to except for a laugh). Your own body can take this kind of damage as well. If your last breath is on the start of an enemy's combo, you can expect to watch him sever your head, arms, legs until he's finished. Sometimes the enemy will also kill one of his own during a wide swing. Now that's a funny sight.

Shields will smash if taken too much damage, as will two-handed weapons if you block the enemy's attacks too often.

The physics in this game are some of the best I've ever seen. Gravity seems very realistic here with the objects in the game. I've knocked a stool with a stray sword swing and watched it go tumbling across the room and then spin on one of its three legs until it finally fell to the ground - very realistic. Knock something down the stairs and you'll see it gain speed as it tumbles downward, twirling and twirling faster with each bounce.

The shadows are, without a second thought, the most realistic in any game I've seen. Not only do they realistically follow your character around, they obey the light sources, unlike most games. If the light is directly above you, your shadow will be directly below you. If the light is coming from the side, you'll see your shadow to the opposite side. The closer to the light source you are, the larger your shadow becomes. You can cast a very ghastly shadow on the opposite wall like some old Hollywood horror flick if you get bored, heheh.

The Bad

The game is hard. I actually was not able to beat it. I can blame a lot of why I couldn't beat it on game bugs, poor controls, annoying menus, but they'd just be excuses. In reality, I simply wasn't good enough. It takes a lot of skill and patience to beat this game, because it's not all fun.

For one, there's no cursor in the game. Anywhere. You can't even use a mouse in the menu. Okay, maybe a small annoyance, but in this day in age we expect to see cursors on our menus.

The controls are funky. I had some problems with the mouse in that, the default sensitivity was far too slow, but if I upped the sensitivity, it would make it so that if I moved the mouse a little, it'd move the screen a lot, but if I moved the mouse quickly, it would move the screen barely. Fighting enemies with a mouse that's too slow, or a mouse that screams in speed with the slightest twitch makes battles all the more difficult. Every mouse click will also be queued in battle. So if you click three times in the heat of battle, your character will attack three times. Three times, even if he's not facing the enemy. Three times, even if the attack was a weak one. Three times, even if he's out of energy and must heave his weapon forward. Those three attacks will always cost you the fight. And sometimes you're not able to rotate your character, or he won't rotate quick enough to fight after you've attacked, leaving you wide open for the enemy to cut you down from the side.

Your character is also unbelievably slow in battle. When he gets in a combo, oh, he'll be fast. But once he's finished a combo or a single attack, there's a pause that's inexcusably long, and that's when the enemy will get you. This may be because I was using the strongest character meant for two-handed swords (using one of the lighter characters may have been quicker, but I'm not sure of this) but either way, most of my battles were one on luck, rather than skill. Sometimes, your jaw will drop and you'll just be speechless watching the enemy cut you down in a split second. Where once you could take down an enemy with ease, he'll suddenly take you down just as quickly. This may boast the idea that you'll always have to be on alert, but often times it's caused by your character bumbling around and not doing what you tell him. Also, once you're caught in an enemy's combo, you're screwed. You can block his attack, but in the time it takes you to recover from blocking, the enemy is always at you again.

Save and load times are horrendous! Saving can take as long as ten seconds, and loading can take twenty to thirty seconds! Considering how often you'll be dying and loading back in this game, that's a huge pain in the ass.

While the physics in the game are pretty neat for miscellaneous objects, the physics for your character is stupid. You fall slower than dirt, and sometimes have a lot of trouble just running up stairs. If you fall a quarter inch, your character falls to his knees and lets out a heavy grunt, as if he'd just leapt off a cliff. When you're running from an enemy and you step on a pebble and fall to your knees heaving, allowing the enemy to kill you right there, you'll want to have one of those stress-dolls ready.

Using the bow is annoying, since you have no crosshair and no real way to aim. You would think the arrow would fly in the direction you're aiming, but instead, the arrow will fly to whatever direction your left elbow is facing! And even then it's not entirely clear. Your arrow will always arc in the same way, but there's no reference point other than a large bulky elbow. So much for marksmanship.

The game is hideously repetitive. It's not necessarily a "bad" thing when a game is created in this way, since that was sort of the purpose. Kill bad guys, move on, kill more, move on, get weapon, move on, etc. But since the bad guys are so damned hard, this IS a bad thing. There's never a creative way to kill an enemy. Never an opportunity to fool the enemy into a pit of spikes or anything like that. There is one part where a boulder runs over one of them, and sometimes you can get to a point where the enemy cannot get to you and you can fire arrows down at him, but in almost every battle it comes down to a fight. And after that, another fight. And after that, another. And after battle after battle after battle, you'll find yourself with almost no health and facing one of those sons of bitches whom you know will kill you the second your character does something stupid. So you save...and wait. Then die. Then load...and wait. Then die. Then load...and so on and so forth.

Also, some enemies carry with them special keys you need to progress, and sometimes you'll fight them on a bridge overlooking a giant chasm. If that monster falls off the bridge, you're screwed.

The Bottom Line

It's a hard game. Not every aspect of the game is bad, though. If you've got the patience and the skill to deal with buggy controls, extreme save/load times, insubordinate characters and psycho-difficult monsters, you'll definitely love this game.