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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: 4


 
Final Breakdown

Gameplay:

There is no denying that Darkstone is a lot of fun. From the beatup up action of the warriors to the fascinating magical spells of the wizards, the game is all purely action oriented in defeating the monsters, goblins, zombies, rats, and other monsters. With the combination of various weapons, spells, and skills there is plenty of variation in the game. With four different unique characters to choose from (one of each sex for the characters), and having another choice of a second ally adds a whole new dimension to the world of action RPG gaming. Just like Diablon with randomly generating dungeons for unlimited playability, 32 levels of play, 86 enemies, 22 weapons, 32 spells, the list goes on. The game has unbelievable playability with 3 different skill levels to play at, each with progressively harder monsters and enemies. Undoubtedly, even though it takes after Diablo a lot, there are a ton of other things that separate it enough to be a different game. Also more so different from Diablo is the fact that the overworld as well as some levels of the dungeon vary every time someone plays. One time, level 1 might be a regular dungeon, but the next time the player enters the realm, level 1's entrance will be a ladder underground rather than a temple to step into and is also a cave underground rather than a dungeon. Tons of skills and spells are also a very unique factor in the game which enhances the gaming experience. The action RPG genre has to be one of the most fun, attractive, and played genres of the time.

Graphics:

Graphically very pleasing providing major use of the 3D Accelerator card. With requirement for at least 8mb of memory on the videocard, it's quite obvious that a lot of textures are used in the game, which is true. The dungeons are excellently recreated, they are so well made that they are almost scary, with the help of excellent lighting effects the submersion of graphical splendor is even more better. The detail put into making the characters is quite nicely done, albeit, a bit blocky and cartoonish. Enemies as well are nicely made, but again, look a bit blocky. The overworld is nicely done, fully 3D rotational cameras and complete with zoom in/out features are nice. However, what really don't like nice are the overworld which is composed of mainly trees, grass, dirt, and water. The trees are horrible in the way they are made, they look awful, the leaves are composed of pixels rather than textures, which really make it look awkward. Another major drawback is the limitation to 640x480 screensize, which by today's standards, is a puny resolution. Due to the small screensize, pixelation and jagged edges are also more visible.

Sound and Music:

Another part of the game which is quite similar to Diablo, music maintains a creepy low tone which matches with the feeling of the dungeons. The sound effects are pretty nicely done was well with excellent voice acting by the NPC characters as well as the played characters themselves. The attacking and bashing sounds of combat, magic spells, and other sounds are quite similar to Diablo, in fact, some of the sounds are so similar, it sounds as if the same sampled sound effects are used. But the voice acting really shines over the sound effects. The talking to characters have a lot of speech to present and other really great greetings. What really is funny is the death wishes of the characters, they are yelling, "Help!" as they die, not sure why it's funny but it is hilarious.

Multiplayer:

Nothing completely special about multiplayer, pretty much the same game with a few twists. The players are allowed to team up and beat the dungeon, or keeping that Diablo feel by adding the ability to be a player killer. Delphine really was planning ahead by adding some really great features for having encrypted messages that only other members of the same clan can decode, unless another player has a high skill in decoding messages, they to will be able to understand the messages. Which adds a whole new twist on the game. Something completely unique would have been nice to add to the game, something like capture the flag would have been cool to see how it would be executed. Free internet play is also available through MPlayer.

AI Intelligence and Difficulty:

Not so much related on AI in these types of games, all they monsters do are run up on the player and try to bash them in. With the added ability of three different difficulty levels, the game is bound to give more challenge at the higher levels, even still at the highest setting, the game is a tad easy. But for inexperienced players who have never played Diablo should get a challenge out of it, but experience players of the previous game will use the same tactics and beat up on the enemies. A patch is coming soon to address this by adding another new difficulty level which will provide more challenge. Another problem is that the allied character is sometimes very stupid and will just sit there while five other goblins are pounding on him.

Controls and Interface:

The presentation and control of the game are very sleek and simple to use, there are a few niggling bugs which could have made it better. There are several improvements over the original Diablo interface which was already very clean and attractive. Delphine clearly tried to improve on that interface, which was readily improved. The inventory and equipment system is the same, along with statistics on the same page as the inventory which makes for less hassle when managing equipment. Spell system is pretty much the same, use of items all accomplished with the right mouse button. One really cool thing is the added running speed, which allows the character to run at a faster pace. However, a few noticeable bugs which don't kill the gameplay, but are annoying to say for the least. The major bug is that the click detection feature which is sometimes unresponsive, or sluggish. Another bug is that once a spell is selected, and the spell is canceled, the mana will still be used even if the spell was not casted. Other than those few errors, the interface is still great.

Overall:

Very good game that almost everyone will and should enjoy. The new features found in the game such as the completely new dungeons, quests, and characters which will keep up the replay value of the game for a longtime to come. This game should really compete with Diablo II once it's released. However, the bugs in the game prevent it from getting a higher rating, once the patch is released to address several of these bugs, this game may very become a very good game, possibly even a classic, for a long time to come.

Glide Underground Editors Choice Award
Pluses (+)
  • Awesome Replay Value
  • Tons of Fun
  • Cool Spells/Skills
  • Good Sound and Music
  • Minuses (-)
  • Some Annoying Bugs
  • Some Graphic Annoyances
  • Too Easy
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    Added:  Wednesday, August 18, 1999
    Reviewer:  Chris Kim
    Score:
    Page: 4/4

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