Darkstone

aka: Darkstone: Bruderschaft des Lichts, Darkstone: Evil Reigns
Moby ID: 591
Windows Specs
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Description official descriptions

Darkstone is a Diablo clone. But there is a difference one will recognize immediately: it is in 3D. But this is not the only "improvement"--the second most important thing is probably that the player is in control of two characters. The other character is computer controlled and the player can switch between them at any time. Also, Darkstone has lots of new spells and skills. The player will be walking through huge woods, have to solve a lot of riddles and descend into deep and dark dungeons.

Spellings

  • 暗黑秘石 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

9 People

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 75% (based on 50 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 61 ratings with 4 reviews)

Diablo 3-D

The Good
The game follows the Diablo style of addicting medieval-type, very light role-playing games. Anyone who liked Blizzard's innovative evolutionary step from NetHack will probably enjoy this immediate, slightly improved version. Many people will again find themselves spending hours trying to improve thier characters through numerous quests.

The 3-D graphics, while not the prettiest, perform their function and it is a very nice feature to be able to rotate and zoom your view around. No more lost rings like in Diablo. You can zoom out and look top-down to get a good tactical view, or zoom in when you're comfortable for a lovely over-the-shoulder-ish view.

The interface, much like Diablo's, is slick and user friendly, allowing for long click-fests with minimal interruption. The two button mouse system occcassional makes for errors (such as drinking a potion you wanted to save) and you can occassional become locked in certain modes (pickpocketing being a bad one), but overall its simplicity is for its own good.

The wandering in the wilderness makes the game feel larger than Diablo and allows for more space between players if they don't wish to be on the same team.

Even though they're just mainly gender variations of the original Diablo classes and the monk expansion , the total of eight character provides a bit more diversity than the base Diablo classes.

While not as truly random as Diablo (for levels tend to have same general patterns), the random dungeons and quests make for a little more replay value. Some quests are easy, some hard, and some nearly impossible without knowing the trick to them (SPOILER: Such as using 'fear' on the Hive quest).



The Bad
As with Diablo, Darkstrone really is an action game with stats rather than a role-playing game. Lacking any true role-playing inducing features and possessing a bare-bones story with NPCs that are merely walking sign posts, you'll often find yourself going back out not to save these pathetic folk, but to improve your all-powerful stats. Fans seeking a more intricate, truer role-playing game should look elsewhere. For more details on my issues with games like this, see my Diablo review.

If you thought the Diablo method of trying to make sure people don't abuse their characters seemed difficult, you should try Darkstone. Even with the newest versions, it's still a crap shoot whether or not your character will transfer from one machine to another. Worse, you may actually lose your characters should something happen to your machine that would cause a re-image. A friend lost his many-hours-to-build high level mage because Windows became corrupted and he reinstalled it. Copying back his character directory into Deathstone, the game, apparently seeking some specific combination of items to load the old save, wouldn't load the characters. Worse, it wiped out the file. This is more frustrating than any death you could have in-game. And, mind you, this was all on the SAME machine with just a re-image of the C: drive.

Some of the monsters later on are so class-specific that it's nearly impossible for a character of a certain class to take down the beastie. Playing alone, this makes for dangerous work, as the next creature may be totally resistant to magic, or may not take any damage from the type of weapon you choose. This, coupled with the obscene speed monssters move at at the higher levels makes for a frustrating time.

The Bottom Line
Diablo in the Third Dimension. A good game for Diablo fans to play with while waiting for Diablo II. Take one or two members from a choice of eight characters and try to free the world through action and magic.

Hardcore role-players should look elsewhere, however.

Windows · by Ray Soderlund (3501) · 2000

Proves that “derivative” doesn’t have to be a dirty word.

The Good
Darkstone makes the case for evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, game design. And it does it very well—better than almost any other game I can recall playing. There are very few changes here from the Diablo formula, but that’s a good thing. By sticking to the template of an uber-classic, Darkstone’s designers guaranteed that they’d have a solid final product.

Darkstone has good music and sound, including some surprisingly high-quality voiceover work. Nothing ruins an RPG experience more than bad voice actors yammering away for hours on end, so this is a big plus in my book. As for the graphics, well, they’re merely ok…but I’ll save my complaints for later.

Randomized quests, items, and enemies give the game extensive replayability. I don’t think this game is quite as replayable as Diablo—the dungeon layouts don’t change much from game to game, if they even change at all—but the sheer volume of stuff helps compensate for any shortcomings in this area. There is a nice mix of classes to choose from as well. Darkstone lets you play as a warrior, thief, wizard, or monk. Each class has its own specialty to focus on (strength, dexterity, magic, and vitality). You can choose between male and female versions of each class, but the difference between genders is almost entirely cosmetic.

The main improvement over Diablo is the ability to travel through the game with an AI-controlled companion. Now your wizard character doesn’t have to be a sitting duck while casting his spells, since you can bring a fighter or ranger bodyguard in tow to ward off your many foes. You can switch between characters at any time, too. The system works fairly well, although I do have a few misgivings (see below).

Darkstone also builds on Diablo in the area of user-friendliness. The game automates some things that were annoying in Diablo, like travel between key locations in the overworld and within dungeon levels. No more wondering if you should have turned left at Albuquerque! Of course, many RPG veterans will frown on such modern conveniences as automaps, but if you’re that hardcore, then I suppose a Diablo clone isn’t going to appeal to you in any case. The home town is also more compact this time around. Whereas Diablo made navigating Tristram seem like work, Darkstone’s town is easily navigable, with very little distance between vendors and other locations.

The Bad
Darkstone improves on Diablo incrementally, while adding very little baggage in the process. Most changes are good, but I guess it was inevitable that not every change would be an unambiguous success.

The 3D camera control takes some getting used to. Yes, I certainly adapted to it by the time I reached the final battle with Draak, but I still have bad feelings about this aspect of modern games. So much time spent adjusting camera angles instead of actually playing…surely there must be a better way? (I know, I know, the ravings of a bitter old-timer. But if I can’t rant on MobyGames, then where else can I go?)

The graphics are unimpressive. Characters are very jagged and polygonal, never rising above PS-One console quality. Playing Darkstone after Diablo reminds us that the transition from 2D was not an easy one.

For a game that throws tons of quests at you, Darkstone has the worst quest log I’ve ever seen. You can’t view and select individual entries from a list; instead, you have to scroll back through the narration text and voiceover of EVERY quest-giving character you’ve encountered until you hit the one you are looking for. It is, to put it bluntly, very inconvenient.

As much as I like the AI-companion scheme, it isn’t perfect. Your escort can be rock-stupid at times, showing no judgment about when to wade into battle and which opponent to take on first. The AI can’t handle magic at all, so there is little point in picking a monk or a wizard character for your party unless you plan to control him manually during the whole game. Rangers will usually retreat to a safe distance before attacking, and fighters are buff enough to take a pounding in melee, so the AI handles those character types much better.

It’s sad that wizard characters aren’t very good, even when you do control them yourself. One of the quirks of the action-combat system in Darkstone is that you can’t hit enemies with offensive spells unless you have a clear shot at them. It sounds reasonable, but when you’re teamed with a fighter or monk escort, they will invariably rush headlong into the fray and block whichever opponent you want to attack with your wizard. I can’t tell you how much mana I’ve wasted shooting my own bodyguard in the back! My advice is to bring a ranger along, or just dump the wizard entirely and approach Darkstone as a straight-up, hand-to-hand combat game.

The final battle with supervillain Draak is a bit of a letdown. Based on my encounter with him, I’d say that the secret to his tyrannical success was simply having a boatload of hit points. There just isn’t much strategy to beating him. If you bring along a ton of health potions, and then flail him with your weapon while repeatedly hitting the function keys to keep restoring your health, then it’s pretty hard NOT to beat him. This is one of the few areas where I really would have like to have seen a little more innovation.

Finally, I must report that Darkstone lacks the immersive, distinctive environment of Diablo. Diablo is a classic largely because it brought a refreshingly DOOM-like atmosphere to a swords-and-sorcery dominated genre. Suffice it to say that Darkstone jettisons that hellfire-and-brimstone aesthetic and returns to an almost completely medieval setting. It’s traditional and feels ok, but it still seems like a step backwards from Diablo.

Don’t misunderstand my complaints, though. I truly enjoyed playing this game. Yes, Darkstone is undeniably derivative; it did nothing to revolutionize the genre. Labels like “Diablo 3D” and “Dark-clone” fit this game quite well. However, in this case, I think those nicknames should be taken as a compliment. If you are going to rip off a game, there’s no point in ripping off anything but the best.

The Bottom Line
If you have played both Diablo and Diablo 2, then you’d probably be interested in playing Diablo 1.5. Well, Darkstone is as close as you’re ever going to get. Highly recommended for fans of the action-RPG subgenre.

Windows · by PCGamer77 (3158) · 2010

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.

Windows · by Kic'N (4246) · 2001

[ View all 4 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Installing patch problem DreinIX (10474) Feb 25, 2008

Trivia

Music

After throwing a gold coin in the dish in front of the musicians in town, they will play a special song: The Darkstone Will Shine.

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  • Darkstone Realm
    "Fan site offers a multitude of resources for the avid Darkstone fan."

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  • MobyGames ID: 591
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by robotriot.

iPhone, iPad, Android added by Sciere. PlayStation added by Boris Vidal.

Additional contributors: JRK, Sciere, CaesarZX, Patrick Bregger.

Game added December 17, 1999. Last modified February 13, 2024.