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!
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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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