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Throne of Darkness Review

publisher: Sierra Studios
developer: Click Entertainment
genre: RPG

P266, 32MB RAM
ESRB rating: M

release date: Sep 24, 01
» All About Throne of Darkness on ActionTrip

Sierra and Click Entertainment finally published their long expected and much-hyped action-RPG - Throne of Darkness. The current market yearns for a good RPG title, but then again what can be defined as a good RPG? RPG became a very ambiguous term, and the games belonging to the genre changed a lot since the dawn of computer gaming. The fans of this genre usually fall into one of two categories: action-RPG fans, and fans of traditional Role Playing, which requires some brains in contrast to the first category. Throne of Darkness is an action-RPG, and brings no novelties that would liven up a bit this tiresome and boring subgenre.

Throne of Darkness is a game that might theoretically attract you with its eye-candy, and atmosphere. The wonderful cartoon in the intro will introduce you to the world of daimyo warriors and their fight against the Zashin the demon, who wants to get hold of the immortality potion. It is your goal to stop the demon and free the people of his tyranny. Through constant action set in the exciting and mystic oriental settings, you will have a chance to immerse in the samurai adventures.

Throne of Darkness is one of the games which don't worry about the plausibility of the story too much; it mostly concentrates on senseless clicking. In this respect, it pretty much resembles Diablo, for that matter, one might even call it a blatant copy of Diablo. The view, the gameplay, controls, characters, animations and even some sound effects seem as though they had been ripped from Diablo. Action RPG players who never even heard of Diablo might find this game interesting and original, but unfortunately, I doubt anyone befits the description. The rest will, however, be disappointed by this feeble copycat from the very start.

The gameplay in this game has one serious problem concerning character advance. When you start playing you will be able to lead four samurais simultaneously. You will soon realize that the samurais using katanas and massive weapons tend to advance rapidly in contrast to the wizard and archer. This is why it is important to use all characters equally from the very beginning of the campaign. For this reason, most people would sooner choose a swordsman or ninja instead of the fragile wizard, which would consequently exclude a highly important character from the gammeplay. And that is never too good when it comes to gameplay balance...

As far as the tech-specs, Throne of Darkness falls behind its role-model in many aspects. First, the backgrounds are monotonous and static, and you will frequently have the impression that the characters are simply pasted onto a painting. From time to time, you will run into a neatly animated stream, some bats and birds, but not more than that. The obsolete isometric engine is also a giant step back in the era dominated by 3D engines.

Now, besides the fact that it is definitely outdated and that it is a copy of Diablo, Throne of Darkness does have a couple of positive characteristics. Some plot elements and the way you can reincarnate your warriors really are original. Each of your samurais can get reincarnated and sent to action once again. This is relatively simple to do - all you have to do is click the appropriate icon and you will be able to choose what character you want to raise from the dead. You can also send you warriors to meditate, which will replenish their mana and hit-points. This has been well conceived and will relieve you of frequent loading of save-games.

Acquiring items for your characters is mostly like in (take a wild guess) Diablo. Still, Throne of Darkness does introduce several minor novelties here... for instance, it will let you speak to the blacksmith and mage at any point in the game, which will save you the trouble of having to run back to the village each time your inventory fills up with loot, or whenever you may need help. This works just fine - as soon as you find a magical item, you can simply open your inventory and have the mage evaluate it for you. Some of the enemies will leave very useful items behind, and sometime you will even be able to use pieces of the cadaver of your enemies to enhance your armor and weapons. Various unique items you may find lying around, like necklaces, rings and charms will directly improve your agility, strength or lore. Money is an important asset, but not as important as in Diablo, as you will find all possible types of repairs extremely cheap. Balancing your heroes' characteristics is crucial in the game and mostly depends on the unique items the characters wear. This is why you have to be very careful when equipping your samurais... some items may prove to be more of a burden that a boon. Speaking of items in the game, it would be important to point out the interesting approach to acquiring spells: if you have a unique item which is of no use to you any longer, you can offer it to the gods in exchange for new magic capabilities. That was a nice idea!

Enemy AI is not to be neglected, especially when they come in greater numbers. Monsters with long-ranged weapons will try to stay away from you, and will always run for reinforcements if they feel sufficiently threatened. There are a lot of different enemies, and their animation is impressive at times.

And finally, if you are loyal to the good-old Diablo, Throne of Darkness will probably disappoint you. The flexible gamers might come to like the game because of the gameplay simplicity, pretty animations and constant action. This title might as well help you pass time while you wait for a serious RPG to appear. The fact remains that it has nothing new to bring, neither in gameplay nor in graphics.


6.0   Above Average 

A lot of action, the possibility to make your own weapons and armors, all characters can be reincarnated;

Diablo with Chinese and oriental music, static backgrounds.



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