Dark Cloud (PlayStation 2) review
" Dark Cloud was an almost-likable experience. I had alot of fun building up my weapons, rebuilding towns and figuring out where the townspeople wanted to be. Unfortunantly, there's only a few dungeons in the game. And all they are is pretty much the same surroundings(although the levels are randomly generated) for 15-20 levels, and the same monsters as the dungeon before, except with a palette swap. "
Dark Cloud was an almost-likable experience. I had alot of fun building up my weapons, rebuilding towns and figuring out where the townspeople wanted to be. Unfortunantly, there's only a few dungeons in the game. And all they are is pretty much the same surroundings(although the levels are randomly generated) for 15-20 levels, and the same monsters as the dungeon before, except with a palette swap.
Level Design is where Dark Cloud screwed up. Bigtime. With all of the things above plus more annoying level-issues, it's simply not compelling or interesting enough for my taste, as an RPG should be.
However, level design isn't the only place Dark Cloud screwed up in. Character developement was also an obviously neglected area, as only 2 or so of the characters in the entire game play any significant role in the storyline.
For example, you get Ruby. A female, elven genie. You recieve a lamp from a very rich person as a reward for building his house. You rub the lamp, Ruby pops out. End of story. You never hear anything more about her, how she came to be, or even what she likes to wear. While she's the most obvious example, she's also the worst. The other characters are slightly more developed than her....slightly.
However, it does have it's good sides. A real-time combat system complete with lock-on, thrown items and hot-slots at the top make for smooth and likeable combat. The most interesting part of the combat is that your character doesn't gain any experience, their weapons do. When your weapon has enough experience, you may choose to upgrade it. If your weapon has any attachments(magic stones, for example), it takes the properties of those attachments and adds them to the weapons base stats when it levels, but you lose the stones forever.
Another interesting part of the gameplay is the reconstruction. You see, [insert cliche storyline of evil demon asleep for 1000 years coming to rule the world with terror here.]. Now, the Fairy King(Aragorn from Lord of the rings? er..) sealed the villiages the Evil Bad Guy was about to attack in sphere's called Atla. It's your heros job to unlock the buildings, animals, people and flora in the atla and rebuild the villages. This part of the gameplay was a welcomed experience, and I only wish more games took it into consideration.
Overall, Level-5 studios took what could have been a magnificant game and released it with a fatal wound in it's side. The poor level design, plot development and character depth were simply too poor for my standards, and really take down what could have been something more. It was not an easy task for me to play through this game even once.
Community review by vincent_valentine (March 24, 2003)
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