Tries so Hard to Be Xtreme, Fails. At Everything Else Too.
There were times when the game’s graphics didn’t offend me. The Spiders the giant trolls and of course the Dragon. The Spider lair itself scared me pretty well, and when hoards of arachnids are tumbling down on you, you’ll appreciate the game. That’s about it.
Aside from that, the melee combat was entertaining for an hour, maybe. I enjoyed kicking people into spikes and whatnot, but only for that same first hour. Um, aside from that there isn’t much else to say. The water looked pretty good, I guess?
There honestly isn’t much that I loved about Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. The acting, dialogue and story all made me cringe. Aside from the ludicrous and sexist portrayal of the demon temptress who you meet at the beginning of the game (trust me, you won’t believe how badly this character is implemented) the rest of the characters are more stereotyped than those of a bad Japanese RPG. The villains are always cackling and laughing up their sleeves, the good female character is there solely as a romantic interest, “hot” body and foil to the sexy demon temptress, and all other characters are secondary. I actually thought that the plot was interesting, but it was so muddled and badly organized that I quickly lost interest.
The combat, as mentioned before, gets old fast. You’ll quickly realize that you have to block and attack in a very regular fashion. Bows, magic and other supposedly cool abilities are largely unpleasant to use. Enemies are mundane when confronted as a fighter, and annoying when confronted as a spell caster or thief.
Returning to the presentation of the game, I liked some of the landscapes a bit, but the problem was how the Source engine was used. I know that this engine can create some amazing vistas, so why was it that every single wide-open area looked awful. Every other texture was so blurry it was like they were underwater. This applied to creatures and items too. The worst was when I realized that my sword was basically a grey stick that got a bit red when I stabbed people. The darker areas look pretty bad, and all of the enemies animate horribly. The later zombie encounters are maddening, as is the fact that you don’t get really good items until way too late in the game.
Multiplayer is a mess, and there aren’t really enough people playing to make you care about it.
The Bottom Line
I really wanted to like this game. It takes place in one of my favorite universes, and it boasted a visceral, melee-oriented look and feel. Sadly, when you have a melee-oriented game where the melee is awful, you might have a problem on your hands. This game annoys and frustrates at every turn, and its portrayal of women is childish and offensive. A few fun creature encounters and some clever set pieces can’t save this game from its own awful design. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a melee FPS, an action RPG, or any other swords and sorcery epic. Look somewhere else.