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Darkstone (Windows)

77
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.4
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Kic'N (4242)
Written on  :  Apr 24, 2001
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars

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Summary

A fantastic multi-player RPG (good single-player, too)

The Good

The graphics are very attractive, and it looks like the developers actually gave some thought to camera and controls details before the game hit the shelves (e.g. when walking behind walls, or into houses, or even behind trees, anything obstructing your view is pleasantly faded to mostly-transparent, enabling you to keep a view of the action)

The depth of the game. In one play of the game you will not see everything present. For a start there are 4 difficulty levels to the game (which are only accessible once your characters reach preset limits). In practice this turned out to be that finishing the game on a certain difficulty generally raised your characters to the required levels for the next difficulty. The changes in difficulty weren't just more hit points for the enemies, or even more enemies (actually this last point didn't seem to happen at all). The actual case was that yes enemies became harder, but new types of creatures you'd never seen before appeared. Old monsters you were familiar with suddenly had defensive or offensive spells that made them horribly hard. In addition to this, new equipment would turn up for your party. And I'm not talking about a Longsword+4 instead on a Longsword+2. Whole new pieces of equipment with effects you've always wished you could have. New spells turned up that you'd never seen or heard of before. These pieces of equipment also gave your characters new appearances in game and kept the game alive. Truly one play of this game isn't enough.

Another feature that prolonged play was that the game consisted of about 20 quests (I can't remember the exact number). In playing the game to completion any time you would only see less than 10 of these quests. Next time you play a different collection would be presented to you (some familiar, some not).

The best best best thing about the game though was the multiplayer aspect. In single player you had two characters to control and this could be problematic at Hero level where hot keys for each were being used constantly along with mouse functionality. However, in multiplayer you only have one character. A blessing! (trust me). Combined with three friends you can wade through the game, replaying up the harder difficulty levels for as long as you can. There's no restriction that players must stay in the same area (in fact quite often can one player in the group be found doing some shopping back in town whilst the others battle it out with some creatures miles away). If you haven't tried this aspect of the game, I really suggest you do - it kept 4 of us at work entertained during our lunch hours for a VERY long time.

The Bad

Not much.

Spinning Camera O'Death: Once your character dies all your items drop to the floor, your map function would turn off and the camera would spin slowly about your corpse. Now, you could reappear in town again and trek your way back out to where you were, naked, but mostly what you need is for a fellow player (in multiplayer mode) to come and resurrect you. However, with no map and the headache-inducing camera many many times did I hear the following: "I can resurrect you now - where are you?" "I have NO idea. In a room by a corridor. Surrounded by items. Spinning..."

Single-player became almost impossibly hard on the patch-released Hero level (the highest difficulty).

The end of the game: To be honest, as you progress through the difficulty levels the end-of-story battle becomes more and more boring. You're following the same plot each time (recovering crystals to go battle evil person), but once you reach the final battle, it's really quite trivial (if you've already done it once, and worked out the easy way to win it). Quite often we completed the final battle with a "Oh... Did someone kill him already? Oh..."

Some spell effects can really kill the rendering. Quite often I found that, in multi-player, the Thief and Fighter would run off as soon as their magic-casting companions started casting destructive spells, just to get some framerate back into their games again.

The Bottom Line

An amazing roleplaying game. Some might compare it to Diablo, but in my opinion it is far far better. Try it out, but if you do don't just play it to completion once. Play some of the harder levels as well. You're missing out so much if you don't.