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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Adventure

 

Publisher

Oxygen Interactive

 

Developer

Simon & Schuster

 

ESRB

N/A

 

Released

October 2003 (UK) 

 

 

- The weirdest commercial tie-in ever

- Some good adventuring to be had

- Good graphics

 

 

- Strictly funnels you from one place to the next

- Lack any real puzzle-solving

- Uneven humor

 

 

Review: Darkened Skyes (GC)

Review: Legend of Zelda - Wind Waker (GC)

 

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Darkened Skye

Score: 7.1 / 10

 

The latest offering to come from Simon and Schuster Inc. is a massive first person RPG stuffed full of goodies and treats for even the most hardened gamer.  Darkened Skyes follows the highs and lows of Skye of Lynora, a young heroine who has been sent to save a world cloaked in darkness.  Lynora is the only person in this dark and miserable world who can save everyone from Dread with her magical powers, lethal battle stick and sidekick Draak (who doesn’t look too dissimilar to Monica Lewinski in the morning!).  Upon first glimpse, Darkened skyes appears to be a dark and mystical fairy-tale version of Tomb Raider – how wrong I was!

 

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Darkened Skyes had many surprises up its sleeves.  Firstly, it features Linda Larkin’s voice as Skye, best known for her role as princess Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin movies and secondly, acts as an advertising vehicle for those colourful candy sweets Skittles (not on purpose though).  Sounds confusing I know, but the purpose of the game is to collect the skittles so you can “release the rainbow” – possibly the best marketing tactic since Coca-Cola invented Santa; but don’t let that put you off!

 

Upon entering this fairy-tale world, the first thing you notice is the quality of the graphics, this game only requires an 8mb video card, 64mb of RAM, Pentium II and the usual Direct X – so naturally my expectations of this game weren’t particularly high.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find no pop up graphics, a highly detailed sky, landscape and foreground.  To enhance this graphic induced euphoria, I was greeted by characters who look more human then in regular games where the lead character tends to be a mish mash of rectangular and octagonal polygons.  The characters move in a simplistic, sleek, free and smooth fashion and interact with encountered objects with little difficulty.  The designers in this game have clearly paid meticulous attention to every aspect of the landscape and character during the production of the game.  In short, the graphics are superbly creative.  

 

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Similarly, other aspects of the game that enhance your experience are the game play.  There is a lethal arsenal of over 20 different spells for you to choose from. The controls take a little while to get used to, but after learning the basics you're well on your way, battling dark spirits across 30 massive levels and 5 impressive mind blowing worlds.  The game is more or less pretty self-explanatory although my main criticism is that the path is clearly set for you, similar to say Crash 

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Bandicoot – move to the end of the level and finish the game. Yet I would rather complete the level in a less linear fashion.  The inventory and menu screens are clearly creative in concept and retain the essential ingredients of a save option and simplicity. 

 

The levels are smart and simple to complete from a puzzle solving perspective.  However, the more difficult aspects of Darkened Skyes involve action – for example on level three, completion of the level is very basic but those damned lily pads… As a result you find yourself trying to accomplish the same goal over and over (unlike in a problem solving game) until it induces chronic bi-polar depression.  Conversely, this feature of the game does enable one to build skill and perhaps interest although a tutorial mission would have been albeit more preferable. 

 

The soundtrack helps to set a spooky and mystical atmosphere without being too stereotypical, and the sound effects are inventive if nothing.  The scripting is an enjoyable attempt at being snappy, witty and clever; perhaps my British sense of humour temporarily blinds me from understanding anything vaguely comical, but this is a juxtaposed attempt at sarcasm.

 

Overall, Darkened Skyes has superb graphics, stunning characters, enemies and creatures and is linear in fashion.  These qualities, in my view, overly compensate for the lack of puzzle solving and poor attempt at comedy.  Similarly, the story and pure creative genius that has gone into every stage of production is a breath of fresh air pumped into an arena of tired and weary games.  This game is all in all, a complete joy to play and worthy of the attention of even the most hardcore gamer.

 

- Chase Scott

(June 9, 2004)

 

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