If you believe every RPG you play, then you'll no doubt have a pretty sound idea of what blokes used to look like in far-off legendary times. We all know the stereotype; long mane of hair, bulging pectorals, Heather Lockyer teeth, etc., etc... but how realistic is this? Let's consider, shall we?
Firstly, the flowing golden locks of your Mr Average Barbarian are perhaps a bit an exaggeration -yes! Back in days of yore there were no scissors, no Timotei, no extra body and shine for a longer lasting perm, so although these jarls probably did have hippy-length hair, it was most likely greasy and licey and full of earwigs. Granted, the large muscles were a necessity because there was no like, social etiquette or stuff and if you didn't look like Arnie then people would probably eat you. As for perfect teeth, well, with Colgate yet to be invented for an epoch or two, it's more likely that our hero had nothing but a row of blackened stumps and a mouthful of abscesses by the time he was 15.
However, it's probably fair to say that an RPG featuring a weedy, drippy looking geezer called 'Simon,' or 'Matthew' or something probably wouldn't appeal to the masses, so it's a good job that this hyperborean archetype, however unlikely persists. And by Odin and the Norns they don't come much more traditional than Ebryn, hero of Darkmere.
There now follows a brief respite from the pathetic wiffle that is this review for a bit of a trick. I'm about to sum up Darkmere's plot in less than fifty words. Yes, I know I'm crazy, but these things need to be done sometimes. And remember: I'm not using any camera tricks here. The King's son, Ebryn, has been sent forth into the land to fend off the Darkmere, a diabolical entity which attracts evil beings to the vicinity. Mysterious stuff has been happening in some quarters and by discovering what's going down. Ebryn can restore the kingdom to its former glory. (I think that's 50 words exactly. I thank you.)
Now I don't mind admitting that I'm quite an excitable person. When I first saw Darkmere in development, I papped my pants, partly because it looked like a potential smash, and partly because I've got a bit of an embarrassing problem. But that was two years ago readers, and a lot can happen in that time, so it was with real trepidation and some churning bowel movements that I loaded up the finished version of Darkmere. So am I happy? Of course not, but the game is pretty smart...
I've just spent a couple of days plodding through Darkmere and it's been great. The game oozes style and the quest is large enough to keep even the most experienced adventurer occupied for several weeks, if not longer. The atmospheric sound effects the team promised when the game was announced work brilliantly. In many games sound effects are overlooked in favour of groovy jingles but Darkmere proves that if you get this part spot on then you can generate a much more exciting game. Okay, so everything is fine and dandy, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, Darkmere is so close to being a 90 percenter that it's making my eyes water and my nose bleed. The reason why it's only getting 82 percent is that there's just too much wandering around. Sure, the locations are completely eye-gratifying and the incidental animations which appear on most screens add a certain je ne sais quoi to every place you visit, but I'd guess that at least half (probably more!) of these destinations are superfluous to the gameplay. I'm not for one minute suggesting that all adventures should have key areas next to each other, but Darkmere pushes its luck a bit - a self-mapper would have eased the pain slightly. As it stands you're likely to spend hours wandering around trying to fathom out where to go next and because everything is so spread out it's easy to become hopelessly lost. Please forgive me if you think I'm going on about this particular gripe but if the adventure was slightly more structured I'd be completely in lurve. Just don't tell my girlfriend. At the end of the day, even though the game has been over two years in development, it's certainly been well worth the wait and if you're even moderately interested in adventuring then you can't really do much better.
In a small village mysterious things begin to happen. Your mission is to discover the secret and save the people. Fine role playing style adventure game. Very long loading time!! But it's worth to wait because the game is exciting!
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