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NightStone (Windows)

39
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Darrabban (33)
Written on  :  Aug 17, 2005
Rating  :  2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars2.67 Stars

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Summary

Another Diablo-like hack'n'slash RPG

The Good

The story is a copy-paste from all other similar RPG games: you are a lonely hero that fights the evil that stirs in the dark corners of the land because you are predestined to save the world... But here comes a little twist – there are three heroes here you can play simultaneously in the game. To explain it a bit further...

Story revolves around two pieces of stones that fell from the sky, one of them was Night Stone that brought evil and dark powers, and the other one was White Stone that brought peace and serenity… Under the influence of Nightstone, a mighty army of dark followers has arisen, and it is time for three heroes to save the realm. Basically your ultimate goal in the game is to destroy the Nighstone, and the Dark Mistress who guards it. Quite simple plot, and not very original, but most people won’t mind it if the game is good. Is it? Let’s see…

About gameplay - so you have three characters: Barbarian, Sorceress & Amazon, and I don’t think I have to explain them further; except I have to point out you will be playing with all of them at the same time. Despite of the three-character system, NighStone is really a classic hack'n'slash game.

And to make it less linear, designers have chosen to divide the game map into 30 sections of land which function as a single mission, and when you have finished one section, the other one or more of them opens up so you can basically choose where you want to play. It does seems less linear but, in the end, you'll have to go through at least 80% of the missions (or sections if you want to call them that), and they are pretty much the same so you don’t have that feeling of multiple choices. The only really interesting thing is that each hero starts from his end of the map, and you need to play out a couple of missions before you are able to get them together.

The only non-attacking place in the game is the inn in the center of the map where you can buy or trade items, and you will go there quite often. As far as missions go – they differ in quests you need to do ranging from killing a specific monster or obtaining a specific item, but it mostly comes down to getting in – and killing them all. Which is OK for hack’n’slash fanatics, but real roleplay is a bit suffering there so… Standard Diablo weaponry and armor is here: various swords, bows, staves, light and heavy armor, also unavoidable healing, mana & stamina potions etc. But be careful! All items (except the three unique ones for each character) loose durability very fast, and if it comes to 0 the item disappears. Not very pleasant if you are in the middle of the mission and no other stuff is in sight…

Now is a good time to point out that when you start mission you CAN’T save game or go to the inn to trade items. This reflected on difficulty and dynamic of the game, but still – I would like to have an option to exit the game whenever I like, and then simply continue, but here the only option is to finish mission when you start it, or play it from the beginning the next time. A bit unnerving…

To sum up the good sides: you can play three different heroes at the same time or just one, the choice is yours. Nice concept for an hack’n’slash, we are much more used to multiple characters in a D&D roleplaying games like Baldur’s Gate and its good to see it works here too. I’ve tried and I can confirm – the game is possible to finish with only one character which is also commendable. But try playing with all three of them, it is much more fun.

The game has some interesting items, a moderate playability and apparently is bug-free, but this is where the entire good sides end… time for the bad stuff.

The Bad

Bad sides: I’ve already named a few: no saving during a mission, no real roleplay quests… To add some more: the graphics could be a way lot better; it’s always a bit to dark and level design is pretty much the same… If you play all missions you will find that monsters are repetitive, and the missions look alike so it becomes boring after a time. A very big minus there.

Items also lack diversity, and nice little features that we got so used to in Diablo 2 like socketing and upgrading are non-existent here. Shame… Even the magic is disappointment because you only have like a dozen spells at your disposal. Too few, I say. Also beginning of the intro movie unmistakably reminds of Warcraft 3. Just a coincidence or a rip-off? Who can say? I could also say the end of the game is a bit crappy too, but you’ll see if you finish it.

I guess this game had the misfortune of me playing it right after I’ve finished Divine Divinity, which is a way better RPG than NighStone, but facts are facts. And the fact is – NighStone has too many downsides and too little upsides. Well, after this spitting some people might think the game is a real shit, but it’s only mediocre attempt, which could have turner out a lot better with a little polishing. You will play it and forget it, and that’s that.

The Bottom Line

We’ve all played Diablo and liked it, but I think few people will play this game, and even fewer are really gonna like it. NighStone is, at its best, truly just an average game.

Bottom line – if you expect real complex roleplaying game like Baldur’s Gate then ignore NighStone totally. On the other side, if you are in the mood for a little simple hack’n’slash, give it a try, you’ll maybe even like it.