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Heart of Darkness (Windows)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (168596)
Written on  :  Apr 08, 2004
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars

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A modern-age reminiscence of ancient platform glory

The Good

This game surely causes the adrenaline level to raise... Despite the somewhat childish story and generally cartoony graphics, this game is a genuine thriller and a breathtaking action adventure in the spirit of the great Another World.

It is impossible not to compare "Heart of Darkness" to "Another World". After all, both games were developed by the same guys and the similarity between them is obvious. "Heart of Darkness" is, simply said, the closest possible thing to "Another World" you'll find (except the Sega CD sequel Heart of the Alien), in any case much closer than the so-called "sequel" Flashback.

Like "Another World", "Hear of Darkness" possesses the highest quality of concentration. The suspense is so great, that you'll find yourself totally addicted and glued to the screen - provided you like this kind of games. It is completely linear and you can forget about exploring the world in the adventuring sense. No, this is hundred percent action. But an action which is more adventurous than in many pure adventures.

The "adventuring" spirit, which is undeniable in this game, is revealed in the setting and in the atmosphere. Like in other similar games of this kind, you have to defend yourself and to find your way out in a hostile world full of dangers. This simple formula works every time it is employed, and there is no need to change it. You are alone - and you must survive. It is all about survival here. But what is so great (while not really original, since "Another World" did the same) about "Heart of Darkness" is the variety of the puzzles. The puzzles are all action-based, but you have to use your head each time you do something. Sometimes it's just plain shooting, but sometimes not. There's nothing automatic here. Each situation, each problem, each monster has to be dealt with in a particular way. This is what made "Another World" so fascinating: it was not repetitive, and "Heart of Darkness" is also not. Both games are wonderfully creative, so that the suspense never ceases: you never know what will come next. Surprises everywhere - this is "Heart of Darkness".

There are eight different levels, and I must say that they are even versatile than in "Another World", where many of the levels looked more or less the same. Here, you'll climb mountains in a canyon, follow a narrow path in a swamp, avoid dangers in volcanic caves etc. The levels are relatively short, and, like in "Another World", each level is like one big puzzle.

"Hear of Darkness" is a rather difficult game. Like "Another World", some of the hardcore action-oriented puzzles might give you a headache. At times, it can be pretty frustrating. One of the best things about the game is the fact that each level is divided into several small sub-levels, and when you die (and that may occur very, VERY often), you don't have, fortunately, to replay the entire level from the beginning. Those sub-levels are much smaller than the corresponding "codes" in "Another World", and this is good. Minimum frustration and maximum fun. Besides, there are three difficulty levels, which is a very useful feature for a guy with slow reflexes like myself.

Technically, "Heart of Darkness" is a candy. Wonderfully animated video sequences with toy-like characters, beautiful backgrounds, rich orchestral soundtrack and good sound effects. The graphics may seem outdated, but don't forget the game was in development for a very long time. Anyway, playing this game, you won't have much time to look around...

The Bad

Personally, I found the game quite hard, but that might be just me - I was never good at action games.

The main downside of "Heart of Darkness" is its story - or the lack of it, to be more exact. It is your basic kiddie tale about rescuing your beloved dog from some bad guys. There is nothing more to find here, and although the game is perfectly made and its gameplay is flawless, the lack of an interesting story did bother me. There is very little content in the game, its entire strength is in its gameplay and its creative design.

The Bottom Line

If you liked "Another World", I can't see what can prevent you from enjoying "Heart of Darkness". It is very similar to the great classic and ultimately less frustrating. It didn't define the genre, like "Another World", but it proved this genre has a great potential if it is properly treated. If you can ignore the absence of story and content, you'll have a blast playing this game.