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Darkstone (PlayStation) artwork

Darkstone (PlayStation) review

"Dark Stone is a game where challenges lie ahead, dungeons await looting and monsters sign their death sentences. With a multiple ways to play this game, it’s no surprise it has nearly infinite replay value. Nearly. "

Dark Stone is a game where challenges lie ahead, dungeons await looting and monsters sign their death sentences. With a multiple ways to play this game, it’s no surprise it has nearly infinite replay value. Nearly.

The goal of the game is to collect the seven crystals (each has its own land with its own challenges) in order to reform the magical artifact the Time Orb, the only artifact that will allow you to defeat Draak, the evil necromancer who has been terrorizing the unnamed town. It is a simple plot for a simple, albeit challenging, game with no real twists save for one, which is neither all that surprising nor really does it affect game play that much.

Although there are at least four different ways to play, there are some things that seriously detract from the game. For example, the game is reputed to have four different quests which allow you to collect each crystal, which will be randomly selected every time you replay the game. However, it has been my experience that this feature only applies to the first two maybe three lands. In the three times I have gone through the game, I have seen no alternative quests for lands 4-7. So, either the laws of probability don’t apply when I run through, or this game just doesn’t have the reputation it so pompously promoted itself with. Even so, the levels themselves are random each time – never have I seen every level mapped out exactly the way it had been the time before.

Although random dungeons are something most games employ, in this game, they can be exceptionally challenging, especially when fighting is concerned. When going through a level… bring a lot of potions. One reason: If you don’t, you die. It’s jus that simple. Sure the first two areas will be fairly simple, but afterwards, you’ll be fighting for your life practically the rest of the way through. Here, I’ll even give you an example.

In a far away land, in the deepest part of the dungeon, my Amazon warrior whom I aptly named Xena, more for her “legendary” stature than anything else, had just come back from town via a magic door spell. Prior to leaving, the room was quite empty, but now… hordes of corrupted Amazon warriors now surrounded me, slashing me with their halberds. I watched helplessly as my health trisected with each swing; I frantically pressed L1, my healing spell, R1, my healing potion, and R2 my mana potion, but no avail. I watched in desperation as my healing potions slowly dwindled to none, forcing me to belt another stack. Then, when I had finally broken through their vice, having retreated to the far corner of the room, I switched from my clunky Master’s Sword to my equally clunky Throwing Axe. Being ranged, the weapon proved more effective, as I found l could run around, throwing an axe here, an axe there, while avoiding their attacks all the same. Five hits and another down, just five hits… It went on like that for a while; I had knocked the group down to at least five, from its seeming ten, when I made the mistake of going near the closed door on the opposite side of the room. There, more of the fearsome warriors assailed me, but this time, being attacked from two different ways, I could not escape, and before I knew it, my character fell in a melee of halberds and poleaxes.

In this game, not only do you need mass quantities of potions, but you need the reflexes to save yourself when it counts, too. Indeed, it is a fact that proves most frustrating, especially when you find yourself dead after not saving in a long while. Of course, the game does give you the option of restarting back at town, but with all your equipped items gone and the buyable items either weaker or beyond your capacity to utilize, you’d be far better off just starting over where you last saved.

Despite all the roughness, this game is still quite enjoyable, and with difficulty settings set for characters at level 20, 35, 50, 60, and 75, the game is quite limitless in its potential, regardless of the fact that nearly all the ups the marketers had toted are flawed. The game deserves at least one play-through, even to those who don’t have the patience for such painstaking, mind boggling work. I know that I for one will continue to play this game, and enjoy it, no matter how frustrated I get, and I’m sure anyone else who plays this game will think the same. But then again, maybe I’m just stubborn that way.

Rating: 6/10

wolfqueen001's avatar
Community review by wolfqueen001 (January 04, 2007)

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