Well, we waited and we waited and finally after well over a year of anticipation, the adventure game that would make Monkey Island or any other of that ilk look silly and inadequate has finally hit the streets. But does it live up to its reputation?
I've really been plugging Darkseed ever since I saw the PC version which was to be quite honest a brilliant piece of programming and marketing. Everything about the game, from the stunning packaging which included a hints and tips book to the jaw-dropping graphics, was wonderful. Obviously I was a little apprehensive when the Amiga version arrived. The PC version was bound to be better, I thought, not through any fault of the programmers but simply because of the nature of the two machines.
Cyberdreams also had another angle on the sale of the game To create the majority of the graphics in the Alien world section of the game they enlisted the talents one Mr H R Giger, a surrealist artist better known for the creation of the Alien for the Alien films and for such loveable beasties as the Vomit Monster in Poltergeist II.
Mr Giger created the scenes on paper and then the technical people scanned the art and incorporated them into the game. In it you play Mike Dawson, a horror writer. You got sick of the rat race lifestyle of living in the city where you were a sales executive for a multinational company, so you moved to a small town the American south to get some peace and quite and to fulfil your lifetime's ambition of writing a book. But you wake in the morning after you first night spent in the house with an incredible headache. All through the night you were having horrible nightmares, images of half-human, half-machine animals torturing you.
As time goes on you realise that the house is closely linked with an alien world filled with nasties that are desperate to come and conquer earth. But they aren't going to go to all the trouble of getting into spaceships and shooting people and all that sort of stuff. They have just planted the embryo for the next generation of their race in your head. In three days it will hatch and the world will be doomed to be ruled by these sick and depraved aliens, not to mention the terrible mess it will make of your head. So now I have given you all the background on the game, what is it like?
As it turns out I was talking complete rubbish when I said that Dark-seed wouldn't be as good on the Amiga as it was on the PC. In my opinion it is the most graphically impressive release for at least a year. The screen mode is constantly in hi-res interlace so the characters on-screen are crystal clear. Darkseed is also the first game ever to contain morphing techniques. A morph is when one image is trans- formed into another. You have some lovely clips of a doll in a box turning, for instance, into a monster and back again.
When you first start playing Darkseed the game appears to be quite small but it does take time for you to find all the different locations - they won't jump out at you. Not only have you got to find the locations in the normal world but eventually you'll find your way into the Alien world, which is very similar only a little bigger. There are over 70 locations.
My favourites are the game's the interactive characters. Many games claim to have interactive characters but all they do is repeat set monologues when you ask them a question. This isn't the case in Darkseed - you have to strike up a rapport with some of the inhabitants of the town to continue to make progress. They will come to you for things and you must give them something in return if you want to get what you want.
As with any such adventure the main way of progressing is by the discovery and use of clues - there are plenty and most are logical and not too obscure. The odd thing is that you have to find certain things that trigger events later on in the game, so there is a domino effect. It doesn't matter if you don't find some of the clues because you don't need them all but your task will be made much easier if you do.
You must remember that the game is set over three days and the way the time works is very interesting. If the machine thinks you are engaged in some activity it time win run almost real time but if you are just killing time and have nothing to do on that day then everything will speed up. And remember you are dealing with a real person so he has to sleep, but watch out for the nightmares...
You control Dawson by a simple point and click interface. By clicking the right mouse button you change what your icon on the screen looks like. To use things you have a hand icon -whenever you move the cursor over anything that can be moved or operated the hand will point. I quite liked this - it doesn't leave you guessing like normal adventure games do. The other two options allow Mike to walk around and examine things.
General laws and etiquette still apply - just because you are playing a game it doesn't mean you can turn into a slob. When you get up in the morning you have to get a shower or none of the locals will give you the time of day. And if you break the law you will get banged up for the night in the local nick.
I do have one or two beefs with Darkseed. Because the screen mode is constantly in interlace the text at the bottom of the screen can be hard to read, and you get the annoying flicker which always accompanies interlace and which gives you a headache in seconds flat. Darkseed is one of the adventure games that I look forward to taking time over and enjoying in full - I cannot do it justice in this one page. Check it out for yourself.
Nice game idea, but an awful game design. Anyway this adventure game has a good horror story and fine atmospheric cutscenes. Many people say that this game is a really big crap. I think you should try it and make your own decision.
People who downloaded Darkseed have also downloaded:
Cruise for a Corpse, Darkmere, Defender of the Crown, Curse of Enchantia, Conquests of Camelot, Crystal of Arborea, Codename: Iceman, Death Knights of Krynn
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