Conan

aka: Conan: The Dark Axe
Moby ID: 13100
Windows Specs
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Description official descriptions

As Conan returns from another successful adventure, he finds that a band of masked warriors has destroyed his village and murdered his uncle, bad move. Now it's time for Revenge!

"Conan" is a 3D hack'n'slash action title that blends RPG elements by awarding experience points for each defeated enemy. Said points can be spent on a plethora of fighting skills which are then triggered via a simple combo system for spectacular results as you battle hordes of human warriors and supernatural monsters from beyond in your quest for revenge. Should you fall to a well-placed blow, Conan offers you the chance to try and regain your honor in the domains of Crom, where a small arena fight can restore your honor and bring you back to life and continue the game or damn you to eternity should you fail.

Also available is a multiplayer Arena mode in which you can duke it out mano-a-mano with other human players as Conan or a selection of original characters. Features the original licensed soundtrack from the Conan movies by Basil Poledouris.

Spellings

  • Конан - Russian spelling
  • 科南:黑暗之斧 - Chinese spelling (simplified)

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Credits (Windows version)

112 People (99 developers, 13 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 62% (based on 21 ratings)

Players

Average score: 2.9 out of 5 (based on 15 ratings with 3 reviews)

Conan the Clumsy

The Good
Returning to visit his village in Cimmeria's grim, grey hills, Conan finds his people slaughtered and his village sacked. A village elder, crucified as a warning, lasts long enough to tell Conan about the Vulture Cult who put every last villager to the sword in order to obtain a magical artifact. Vowing vengeance on the Vulture Cult, Conan turns south in pursuit of the villainous riders. Black-haired? Check! Sullen-eyed? Check! Sword-in-hand? Check!

Conan plays out from a third person perspective, acting as a combat-based barbarian simulator. On his march south, Conan encounters scores of enemies to be hacked, slashed, and (occasionally) bludgeoned. Starting with his father's sword, Conan first encounters a solitary wolf. Using both mouse buttons and some keyboard maneuvers, Conan easily adds another pelt to his collection. Before long Conan encounters packs of wolves, requiring a little more finesse. Luckily, the more experience Conan has in combat the better he becomes.

An RPG element is just one nice feature that keeps Conan from feeling like a basic hack and slasher. Conan earns experience points with each kill which he can use to purchase powerful combos, strengthen existing attacks, and lengthen his life and stamina bar. Conan's repertoire ranges from basic slashes and thrusts, to complicated attacks which hit groups of enemies or combinations that feed off each other. The stronger the attack, the more damage Conan does, but his stamina also takes a hit—so there's a bit of strategy too.

If you play this game expect tons of combat and tons of enemies—human and otherwise. Combat animations look convincing and the weaponry makes nice clashes and clatters. Conan has three weapon types available: sword, hammer, and axe. As he journeys, Conan finds upgraded weapons of each type and hidden pieces of the tantalizing Atlantean Sword. Conan has few usable inventory items. There are the standard health and stamina drinks, occasional puzzle-based inventory items, the odd armor, and perhaps a map. More important are the rune stones Conan must find.

Crom, Conan's god, is typically portrayed as being… indifferent. Here, not so. Crom has left rune stones, so Conan can save his progress. Conan can have up to four rune stones at a time, but since there is no autosave feature, he might want to think about when to use them. Crom also has a nice backup plan if Conan falls in combat. If Conan can defeat enemies in Crom's otherworld arena, then he is resurrected on the spot. If Conan doesn't die in combat though, he's SOL.

Conan traverses through large, but linear, levels and makes his way through a good chunk of the Hyborian Age map as described by Robert E. Howard. His pursuit takes him through the land of the savage Picts, sand-blasted Stygia, green and deadly Darfar and far beyond. Level design is largely good, but begins to feel similar due to linearity of design—it doesn't matter if you are in the capital city of Kordava or the subterranean temple of a forgotten god, you can't explore much.

Graphically, combat animations and wall textures are the high points. Actually the high point would be the skeletons manacled to the walls who scream at Conan. There are a few cinematics using the game's engine and nice Indiana Jones-style map overlays. Most levels look good—the jungles of Darfar seem lush and Cimmeria seems foreboding. Voice acting is decent. Music is great and is cued in to the action.

The Bad
If you are a Conan fan, then I have no trouble recommending this game. However, I wouldn't recommend this game to a non fan and I have to warn fans that Conan has major problems.

After a really long, wordy prologue you see Conan and he doesn't look so good. Luckily you mostly see him from behind, cause he ain't got much of a face and whatever they were trying for in the chest region just didn't come off.

He doesn't control so well either. Blame mushy controls or a wonky camera, but he doesn't move accurately which makes the few jumping puzzles nightmarish. This really rankles, since Conan is always described as having catlike dexterity. You'll hate opponents who use ranged weapons on Conan, since Conan struggles to evade their attacks. Usually, you have to take the punishment as you slog your way up to them.

Combat works well, but I can't recommend the keyboard/mouse setup if you want to execute all the combos. Also, you'll get pretty tired of fighting skeletons, especially the ones that just need to hold their sword near Conan.

Conan's story is good, but you have to scoff at the designers' assertion that it is an independent adventure. The music is mostly borrowed from Basil Poledouris's movie score and substitute the Snake Cult for the Vulture Cult and you have Conan the Barbarian's plot. Actually I was amazed at how often the game consciously references the movie. It felt like the designers had a general lack of confidence in gamers accepting new material.

Finally, I hate save systems that punish players. I wish I could spend all day gaming, but I'm an adult with responsibilities. Let me save when I need to, where I need to, or autosave at the end of each level so I don't have a lot to replay.

The Bottom Line
Conan shows a lot of promise for what could be a new gaming franchise, but I can't recommend this game—even patched. Combat works well, but I'd like to see more interactivity, more explorable areas, and a better character model. Better yet, go back to the books for the next one.

Windows · by Terrence Bosky (5397) · 2004

Fierce hack 'n slash goodness! Don't pass this one up!

The Good
What a fantastic game. This is one of those games that get you hooked and pull you right to the end. "Just one more level", you keep repeating to yourself, and before you know it you've traversed a dozen and more levels and conquered evil and now you have to find some other game to play...or go back through on a harder difficulty.

The graphics in this game are great. They don't push the limits of cards, nor are they dated. I feel they're just right for the time. Great in most places, pretty good in all others. I can't really recall any part of the game I was disappointed with the graphics quality.

The cutscenes were fun to watch. The dialogue I felt was very well done. Governer Arnold didn't do the voice for Conan, but the guy who did did a very good job. Lots of emotion, lots of "might" in the voice. The animation was good in the cutscenes -- lip syncing was better than I expect from most games nowadays.

There are probably close to fifty different attacks and combos you can learn in the game. I loved experimenting with the different combos, and even though toward the end of the game there were only two that really proved to decimate my opponent, I still had tons of fun mixing others into the mix. Some of the battles I wish I could watch again. Like facing seven armored skeletons at once, swiping overhead with my sword and then down below, then turning around and swinging my sword in a 180 degree arc, smacking three others, then doing a criss-cross sword move, then thrusting forward, then jumping backward and jump-kicking one, then grabbing one's head and punching it square in the jaw. Heck, there were so many different combinations you could throw into the mix that every battle could be a different experience. And the animation is fluid and for the most part, monster targeting isn't a problem at all. And with four different weapons available to you at any given time (well, save for the beginning of the game when you really only have one), there's just all that much more to experiment with.

The game is of a fair length. I finished it in just two days, but I also put in quite a few hours in it. The levels are very varied, each one requiring slightly different tactics as you fight different monsters. The levels consist of mountains, ice caves, tombs, jungles, deserts, volcanos, towns, temples, and others. I particularly enjoyed the harbour level in which there is very little fighting. It was a temporary change of place that lasted just long enough not to derail what was a straightforward hack 'n slash action game.

Also something I really appreciated was the way the "continues" work. First, you can't save anywhere. You have to find "sacred stones" and use them to save your game, and let me tell you, these stones are sparse. So you could go literally forty-five minutes at a time without being able to save, and one would certainly be really PISSED to play that long and then die at the hands of a monster and have to revert back to the last savegame. Heck, that's enough to make one stop playing altogether and quit. But in Conan, you're given a second chance by fighting in an arena to prove to Crom you are worthy for a second chance at life. Each time you die in any particular battle (or perhaps it's a time limit thing?), these afterlife-arenas are harder as more and more monsters are there to try to thwart your attempt to appease the Gods.

The Bad
HOWEVER, Crom is real stingy sometimes and WILL NOT resurrect you if you die OUTSIDE of battle. Meaning that, say, a monster knocks you into a wall of fire and you die. Well, the fire killed you so game over. Or let's say you FALL THROUGH THE FLOOR AND INTO BLACK OBLIVION. Game over. Or maybe the camera suddenly changes just as you are walking accross a thin platform, causing you to lose your perception and you fall off and die -- game over. Conan is a buggy game. Surely the developers saw how Crom neglecting to resurrect you outside of battle is a bad thing when more often than not it's the game's bugs that will kill you, not your own idiocy.

The camera is okay only about 40% of the time. It tends to "lean" toward targets, sometimes targets that either aren't there, or aren't there yet. I've had occasions where the camera won't even look at Conan at all, but instead stares at some wall that to me seems absolutely insignificant. I had to walk pretty far away from the wall before the camera came back to me. Some locations, the camera will fly to a fixed location. I suppose this is for a more cinematic feel, but it plain sucks. It's hard enough to cross a bridge with swinging hammers trying to knock me off -- it's a real pain in the ass to do it when the camera is at an angle that you can't tell how wide the bridge is anymore.

A few occasions I've had Conan fall right through the floor and to his doom. Twice this was just on the cave floor. Poof! Conan gone. Another time was when trying to get on an elevator, and Conan somehow managed to fit his muscle-filled body through a two-inch crack in the floor and die. There was one particular jumping puzzle which took longer to beat than most parts of the game due to a whacky camera, Conan's unpredicatable jumping tactics, and a floor tiles that, when they fall, seem to spawn some sort of vacuum that sucks Conan down with it.

The very last part of the game is the most abnoxous horrible game-bug fest I've ever played. See, you have to fight about twenty of these monks. Now, these monks are REALLY DAMN ANNOYING because they will cast spells at you, slowing you down, and once you're close enough to attack, they run away. And cast spells. And then run away. And not only that, but there's a magical wall where, if you touch it, you die (and Crom will deem you unworthy). To make matters worse, there is an invisible nothing in the middle of the level that Conan will for some reason target and attack instead of what he SHOULD be attacking. This and the jumping puzzle really ruin what was a great game experience.

The Bottom Line
Despite a jumping puzzle, the last fight, a mean camera and some clipping issues, this was one of the funnest games I've played this year. This is a game that I enjoyed playing through every single level, and I wasn't really ready for it to end, yet. Most games, particularly hack 'n slash, I tend to grow bored with halfway through and finish it just for the sake of finishing it.

Fans of Conan lore and/or hack 'n slash games, or those who just like that RPG feel of earning points for killing monsters will enjoy this game. Also a great story that was gripping from beginning to end, with great cutscenes, great voice acting, great graphics...

A great game!

Windows · by kbmb (415) · 2004

Not even Arnold could save this one

The Good
Conan cleaves his way to the videogame world once again, and while one might groan at the sight of yet another 3D-action/adventure title, honesty demands that one recognizes the places were Conan works.

Strictly a melee-oriented game, Conan nonetheless packs a shitload of moves that not only do different amounts of damage, but have different strategic advantages such as being able to stun opponents or attack multiple foes. Using a simple button-sequencing system you trigger said moves with surprising ease, however you are not able to dish them out for free, as in addition to your health bar you have a stamina one that gets consumed with each move in different amounts....Well, yeah it's not super-new stuff, but what if I told you that you unlock moves with the experience you get from slaying enemies? Nothing improves arcade gameplay like some good rpg elements.

The game follows the basic layout for most games of this type, with you traversing a series of locales and killing anything that dares to cross your path with the many different weapons you collect along the way. However Conan spices things up by allowing you to come back to life when deceased, a nicely welcomed feature that takes you to a trippy arena when defeated to appease Crom by defeating a few generic enemies from the level you are currently on. This fight is fought only with your starting weapon and no armor or extra aids so it's balls-to-the-walls like never before.

As an interesting addition, TDK licensed the entire soundtrack from the Conan movies by Basil Poledouris, which is always a nice plus as it's one of the greatest soundtracks ever composed in the sword-n-sorcery genre.

The Bad
Despite what the ignorant fools out there might believe, Conan is more than just a hulking brute that dedicates his life to scaring puppies and flexing his muscles, Conan was a cunning thief, a skilled tactician and truly a thinker that seeked much more than war and booze, something that the original Conan movie acknowledged. However you wouldn't know any of that from playing this game, as it's basically your classic, stupid console-born arcadey abomination about a retarded one-man-army that demolishes all the "bad guys" (in the loosest and most generic sense possible). The story and premise is a mere formality, and the gameplay only involves killing bad guys, and the stupid additions console games usually include to distract you a bit like jumping puzzles and other assorted stuff involving geographic accidents. I could hardly believe it myself, but there came a time when I started missing key-card hunts and the usual crap mediocre games usually throw our way, and the apparently deep combat system lacks the fun and sheer entertainment value of simpler button-mashing schemes, a system that would have worked much better for this game due to it's horribly simple gameplay.

Conan was also not just a dumb, strong warrior, but also agile and skilled, however this in no way translates to the controls in the game, maybe it's the pc version, but the keyboard-mouse combo doesn't allow you to dish out the combos and seems to have problems responding, while the gamepad configuration is filled with holes making the use of anything but a sidewinder pad or whatever is considered standard issue these days a problem.

Finally, the graphics in the game are about 3 years old in terms of model quality and textures, Conan looks like ass and while some stages are nicely done, in general things are terribly generic and un-appealing. Quite frankly the game reeks horribly of a library-resources, and given the rather basic gameplay premise on top I can't help but think of the words "pre-fabricated console trash".

The Bottom Line
If you want some good Conan action go get the dvds from the movies, play the other games and read the books. Conan fans will get next to nothing from this game, except the music and the recognizable landmarks and locations. Action gamers will get some basically entertaining melee action, but there are tons of better titles available, so why bother?

Windows · by Zovni (10504) · 2004

Trivia

Soundtrack

The soundtrack for Cauldron's Conan game can be downloaded from their site.

Information also contributed by Karthik KANE

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  • Conan
    Official Tri-lingual Website

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  • MobyGames ID: 13100
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Zovni.

GameCube added by John Chaser.

Additional contributors: Terrence Bosky, Unicorn Lynx, Indra was here, Scott Monster, Klaster_1, Patrick Bregger.

Game added May 10, 2004. Last modified May 19, 2024.