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Reviewed: Darkstone
Publisher: Gathering of Developers
Developer: Delphine Software International
Genre Type: Action RPG
Price: $44.95
Required System: P233, 32mb Ram, 4mb Direct3D Accelerator (AGP) - 8mb Direct3D Accelerator (PCI), 170mb HD, Win95+
Reviewer's System: PII300, 64mb Ram, TNT, Win98
Related Games: Diablo
Overall Rating:
Author: Chris Kim       Date: August 18th 1999
Page: 2

The action RPG genre is a pretty new genre, which was totally redefined by Blizzard's now classic game, Diablo. That game brought more than just a new genre to the face of PC gaming, it made way for a set of totally unique RPG games which aren't slow paced and boring. By all means, that game will be remembered as a pioneer in the genre, then along comes Darkstone from Delphine, the developers of this new game. The first time a player takes a step into the world of Darkstone, the first thing to notice is the large and vast world of Darkstone, which is a nice change from the single, isolated location of the town in Diablo. More than that, there are several different places to do stuff, such as the bank teller, skills master, magic master, potion master, weapons master, and food master. There are also several overworlds where the player has the freedom to roam around, get into battles, find the dungeons, and find other small villages to talk to and help. The concept of the game is almost exactly the same as Diablo, similar type dungeon setup, similar town interaction, and similar interface. So at first glance, it may appear to just be a Diablo knock off with a new 3D graphics engine; however, that assumption is way off. Darkstone add many more features which make it a much different gaming experience than Diablo, it could be said that Darkstone is the bigger and stronger son to Diablo.

Standing In Town
Same Picture, Different Camera Angle
Talking to Townsmen

First thing that is unique is that in Darkstone, adventurers travel in a party of two characters, with a selection choice of eight different characters, one of each of the four class rankings (Warrior, Wizard, Thief, Priest), one of each sex. This added second party member adds a lot of depth and strategy to the game, not only is there backup if one of the character dies, but that player is available to aid in the battle. Half of the enemies can be handled by one character, while the other half are taken care of by the other. As with Diablo, each of the characters are very unique and different in their own ways with different strengths and weaknesses. The Warrior is strong in strength and vitality, Wizards are strong in magic and dexterity, and so fourth. When the game is started out, characters are saved in single player mode and can be used again in a different game, but will maintain the same skills and stats when played before hand. What really is great in this game are the many array of spells and skills. Every class of characters are allowed to learn eight different skills, all of which are useful in one way or another. One skill that really stands out though is the Lycanthropy which allows the Sorceress to turn into a werewolf and become a battling machine. Many different skills are available, similar to what Diablo has, each spell has levels where each level the spell becomes more powerful, which also applies to skills, but those are purchased separately and cannot be found in the dungeons. As with all other RPG games, typical equipment is the same with all other games, they all stay true to how a real warrior or thief would wear armor/weapons. Some very unique weapons are available (unfortunately, they don't have special names like they did in Diablo) which raise the skills of the player significantly.

Skeleton Battle
Unique Enterance to Level 1
Good as Dead... It Is Dead

Gameplay really kicks some major ass. Staying true to the classic gameplay of Diablo, Darkstone was also targeted at all gaming fanatics and genre specific fans as well. Along with the special added features from Diablo, this game really makes a standout performance from the rest of the crowd. Add in special skills, more spells, trickier dungeons, more enemies, more levels, different overworld designs, and much more, and then this Darkstone. The gameplay is quite simple, all that is required is to purchase equipment, get food, get other necessities, venture out into the wilderness, find the dungeon, and start kicking some demon ass. In the dungeon, there are many doors, traps, enemies, and the other good stuff that a RPG gamer would come to expect. The storyline is pretty simple, but it is a good one which actually does not evolve around the controlled players, but rather, many stories unfold while gameplay is going on. A dragon is summoned by some warlocks, and they feel it can do some good for them, however, the dragon has other things in mind burns them and just laughs. The player must then control the two heroes (or heroines) and recreate the Time Orb by collecting the stones to defeat the dragon, Draak. The quests that are received are sometimes indirect, and sometimes they are aimed right at the player. In town, rewards will be given to players that find an item in the dungeon and brought back to the person asking for it and will give the player a reward in coins. Other times, the player will find something in the dungeon such as a mirror, then a few levels down a person is holding a cursed mirror which makes them look different, they get the new mirror and the player solved part of a quest. The second part involved the player going to a village and finding a evil witch who cursed two beautiful women into stone because they were more beautiful than she was. The player then gives the cursed mirror to the ugly witch and she turns the stone women back to normal, which is how the first Wisdom stone was collected.

Where is My Ally?
Around the Corner...
...To Find an Easy Battle

Combat is the main focus on gameplay in Darkstone, as it is in most all other RPG games. Just like the combat method in Diablo, this game uses the same click and hack method of attack. Equipped on the player is the choice of weapon, armor, shield (unless double handed weapon), helmet, up to four rings, and up to two amulets. With a variety of arsenal, the player can choose what kind of battles they want to go up against. The option of having ranged weapons like throwing knives, throwing axes, or bows, or having the option of up close battle with a sword, axe, or club. The varying methods of combat add a lot of different strategies, especially with the second character, the player can be customized to use different methods attacking. The ally can have a magic limit as to how much mana they can use on attacks. Several different spells have different effect on certain enemies as to weaknesses and strengths. The enemy AI is exactly like it is in Diablo, not to intelligent, but the challenge does not come from how smart the game is, but how the enemy attacks. Quite simply put, the enemy will run up and bash out the brains of the players if possible.

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Added:  Wednesday, August 18, 1999
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Score:
Page: 2/4

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