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Darkened Skye Review

publisher: Simon & Schuster Interactive
developer: Boston Animation
genre: Action Adventure

PII-350, 64MB RAM, 400MB HDD, 3D accelerator
ESRB rating: T

release date: Jan 27, 02
» All About Darkened Skye on ActionTrip

Believe me, after all the games I've played in the last couple of months, including HALO, Project Gotham, Medal of Honor, Dead or Alive 3, and Jimmy White's Cueball World it's actually hard to get a clear picture about this one. Still, I'll do my best make a lucid description, laying out all the crucial pros and cons of Simon and Shuster Interactive's game, Darkened Sky.

Here's the whole story: You are Skye of Lynlora, a shepherd with a restless spirit, a taste for adventure, and a smart mouth. Your humdrum existence of Dwentil herding is changed forever the day you find a strange orange object - a Skittle. No sooner do you seize it than you are gifted with mysterious power - of the fireball hurling variety. Unfortunately, a nasty rift also opens up in reality, belching forth a horde of nightmare creatures who seem to regard you as Public Enemy Number One. They want your little discovery.

Recently, the developers have revealed that Darkened Sky was intended as an original way of depicting a story, based on Skittles Brand Candies TV Commercials. The game developers have elaborated a story around the popular commercial catchphrase "Taste the Rainbow." As the story unfurls, the main character begins to apprehend more about her heritage and origin. While you chat with numerous NPC's you'll realize that the story will be unveiled with sporadic humorous comments of your sidekick (Draak). Sorry to say, some of his remarks are about as amusing as watching an episode of 'Friends' in Spanish.

Graphically, the game has some rather outdated and crappy issues going. For instance, you'll immediately notice that the game's considerably deficient in texture detail. First, I have to say I hate Tomb Raider look-alikes, but I was still hoping for some decent and up-to-date visuals. Regrettably, it is obvious that in-door levels have a higher quality than out-door.

On the other hand, I'll admit that Darkened Sky is at times charming thanks to its unusual atmosphere and environments, which are interestingly designed (and that take your mind off the boring and childishly simple puzzles that have to be worked out). There's a particular level, for instance, where you have to climb an enormous tower in order to rescue a certain individual, who's role is pivotal to plot. This tower looks really good and it represents one of the original moments in the game (both in terms of gameplay as well as visuals).

The gameplay has its ups and downs. One of the first things I noticed that really bugged me is that your character cannot climb or crouch (well this is one issue where Lara Croft had outdone her challenger, Skye). Most out-door levels, which like I said simply cry out for more objects in the environment, also need to have far more freedom in terms of exploring and movement. These exterior levels are filled with confined areas, in which you are rarely given the opportunity to climb a hill or detour from a certain path. This kind of stuff will often happen during the game - at times, you won't be able to pass through a particular section just because a small shrub is blocking your path (you cannot go around and you cannot jump over it - that truly sucks!).

The game can be interesting at times, although it does have the tendency to overemphasize a platformish kind of game play. In itself, that is not a bad thing, though the real problems occur when you realize that the sole purpose of Darkened Skye is to jump from one floating island to another, only to find yourself doing the same thing throughout the entire game. Next to that, a specific type of enemy unit will be attacking you several times during the game and that makes it even drearier.

If there are any qualties to be named, they would have to include the game's easy-to-use inventory system. Basically, everything you need is accessble by the push of a single button - whether it's a spell, or an item you wish to use or trade. Spells work pretty well and there's whole bunch of them for you to experiment with. The spell casting is carried out through your staff and the Skittles, which you collect on your journeys through different worlds by completting various quests. The right combination of Skittles gives you the opportunity to use a specific sort of spell. Actually, many puzzles that need to be solved, necessitate the proper use of a spell - for instance, "true sight" is usually required to let you know the whereabouts of a secret passage. And the good thing is that there are 15 of these cool spells and they are all quite useful and easy-to-use.

When it comes to characters, it's nice to see that the creators of the game thought up lot of unique-looking races and NPC's for you to chat with. This brings me to another slight drawback, the dialogs. Apparently, the developers and the writers of the storyilne were under the impression that the comments and gags of your sidekick (Draak) are witty. In my opinion, they present a nuisance and they ruin the, basically, good story. What's more, the fact that you are a sardonic female character doesn't really seem to be enough to entangle an average gamer - or any other kind of gamer for that matter.

In the end, I can only say that the game's pretty lengthy, offering you a lot of diverse, though claustrophobic areas to explore. If it's adventure you seek, adventure you shall find! However, some of the puzzles are too easy and won't present much of a challenge.

Ooops, wait, wait, the game has one more aspect worth mentioning. Namely, the music tracks, which have a good quality and they are nicely synchronized with the in-game atmosphere and action. The sounds are not bad, though they could use a wider variety. Overall, I'd say this is a game meant for gamers who are a bit younger and who enjoy cute sarcastic babes for main characters. So, it all boils down to jumping around bashing recurring enemies with your staff and listening to your un-witty sidekick.


5.3   Okay

About 30 levels for you to explore, a significant range of spells, the variety of races and NPC's. I guess the music's OK;

The visuals are crappy and truly behind the times. The humour doesn't impress me... Some areas are really constrained, in terms of movement. Repetitive, enemy units.



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