A great game cast from a mold long long lost.
Okay, okay the opening story isn't that belevable, but one thing you better believe is that this game is great. A classic in my book and surely my favorate game of 1998. On the surface, Heart of Darkness may appear as a simple platform game, but don't be fooled because it is much much more. This game has character and is fun to play -- from the silly shadows creeping around to the flame-throwing skeletons burning you to your bones. Once you start, you won't put it down until you are finished, and once you are finished you will curse that people have to sleep because you will want to play it again.
The different levels, each with their own strengths and required skills to complete will make sure you don't get bored from repetitive uninteresting gameplay. The balance between action and puzzle solving is nearly perfect. In addition to the changing gameplay, the atmosphere changes from level to level in a fluid way that complements the story (and games as a whole) rather nicely.
Andy, the boy you control, has many movements, all of which get used throughout the game. Even though this is a platform game, he is often required to do things in places you just don't expect in a genre like this. Additionally, small in-game movies are well-placed to help give the illusion that Heart of Darkness isn't a dated platform game. All of these things have convinced me that there is much more life left in this genre. I just hope other developers follow suit.
The main complaint I have with this game has nothing to do with gameplay, graphics or any of the other important characters of the game. My beef is that there appears to be *NO* way to skip past a cutscene the first time it is played. Some of the cutscenes are quite long and I'm sick of seeing them. Every time I start Heart of Darkness from a clean install, I have to sit through the cuttscenes over and over again. To add salt to an open wound, the end credits are almost 10 minutes -- let me skip them so I can start the game again! I've pounded on the keyboard, kicked the machine and cursed something horrible. If anyone knows the magic touch please let me know and I'll eat my words.
Apart from that tirade, I only have two minor gripes:
First off, the graphics or pretty low resolution and the palette rarely uses over 200 colors. Considering that this game came out in 1998 and still runs on a 486/66 I'm not going to gripe too much. But the fact that this game does run so well on low end hardware pisses me off because I could have been playing this games for the last six years with no problem -- geeze.
Secondly, the final sequence in the game is brutally hard. I think I'm pretty good at these types of games and I was pounding my head quite a bit. Every time I finish the last scene, I get the feeling that I won it by chance, not skill.
The Bottom Line
If you are an oldskool gamer and you haven't got this game run... don't walk to you nearest dealer. Get your fix while you still can becaue this is the good stuff.