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Sword of Darkness update:20thJan:Plot re-written vs. Aethereal
Sword of Darkness update:20thJan:Plot re-written
xaero
Download: 868 KB
V.S.
Aethereal
Play Time: 0 hours and 40 minutes
Review # 11 for Aethereal "You mean Carmen Sandiego's lackeys already stole the rest of the castle?"
Them's Fightin' Words
    I think I made a mistake in picking this game to write a review for, because I'm getting tired of writing reviews for poor OHR games. I guess it's a given, however, that at least 50% of the reviews I'm going to write for OHR games are going to give the game a below-average or poor grade because, unfortunately, that many games are worthy of such a grade. Anyway, Sword of Darkness offers nothing aside from a couple of good ideas and a mess of implementation. Add in the incredibly boring gameplay, and you've got a recipe for a disaster. The game certainly isn't worth the player's time, and the author needs to do some serious work to get this game on track.
Graphics
    The graphics are probably the best part of the game, which isn't saying much. For the most part they are a mixed bag; some are pretty good, others aren't that hot. It's sort of a mix of a bunch of different styles from flat colors to airbrushed pictures to gradients. They have no sort of uniform style, *especially* the battle graphics. The maptiles aren't too bad because they have some okay shading, but they don't blend very well together and the author needs to seriously work on his water tiles. The biggest problem with the maptiles is that there aren't very many of them - you could probably stick all the tiles on one and a half pages. The battle graphics aren't too hot. Some of the heroes, like the main character, look okay, but they all have different styles. The main character reminds me a bit of an old graphical style I tried out once (with moderate success), except taller. He is probably the best looking of the heroes, but even he has a few problems, like *cough* incomplete battle frames (yeah, he doesn't animate in battle or anything, he just always stays on his "waiting" sprite). Then we have Xaero (yep, named after the author) who looks like he was drawn by a COMPLETELY different person, and the rest of the characters are super-deformed sprites with poor or no shading. The enemies are the lamest part of the graphics because there are at least six enemies that use repeated palette-swapped sprites like in any good 2D RPG (i.e. Red Slime, Blue Slime, Green Slime...all in the same dungeon!). The battle backgrounds are also pretty blah, and once in a while don't even match with the dungeon that you're in. That automatically screams out to me that the author did not test his game thoroughly and likely didn't play it all the way through himself, although there's more about that later. Overall, don't study this game for its graphics, as it has a mix of about ten styles and they don't mix very well together. They're not *horrible*, just inconsistent and lame.  
Storyline
    Alright, here's where most of my efforts are going to go. The problem here is that the game has atrocious grammar and dialogue, as well as the worst text box formatting I've ever seen. While it doesn't attempt to cram as much into one box as it can, it does not indicate who's saying what (by putting the name of the speaker before their text) and half the time the dialogue is unreadable due to some of the worst grammar and overall use of the English language I've ever seen. However, from what I could gather, apparently you (Bill) possess some kind of force known as "the darkness". When combined with the Sword of Darkness, this power can defeat any opponent. The Dark Lord wishes to kill Bill (pun not intended) because whenever the possessor of "the darkness" is killed, the killer inherits the power. It does explain why he possessed "the darkness" at the very least (someone transferred it into him for reasons which were half-unintelligible). However, that's about the extent of the story - you leave your town and go off searching for the Dark Lord. After that the game basically becomes a mess of "do stuff for no reason". Over half of the NPCs in the game don't say a word to you, which is a severe mistake. The character development is...non-existant, to say the least. Characters join you for little to no reason (I still don't get exactly who Xaero is and why he joined me - he just randomly appeared) and they don't say anything at all, of course. One character is even nameless! He has no name (see uploaded screenshot in the game list entry)! If it had something to do with the story perhaps it could make sense but here he just simply has no name for no reason. Finally, the story and the gameplay are inconsistent with one another - Bill has "the darkness", yet Xaero is the one who possesses a "darkness power" spell list. Er, someone come in and explain that one for me. Anyway, the story isn't worth anything, as the dialogue is sickeningly bad and the story never goes beyond what happens in the beginning of the game.  
Gameplay
    To put it simply, the gameplay is boring. As in boring. Let's start with the encounter rate. Does anyone remember the sickening encounter rate from Breath of Fire 2? Well, the encounter rate here is worse (battles every two steps, and this time I mean it literally). It also doesn't help that the battles are pretty boring, but more on that in the battles section. Most of all the game suffers from nonexistant or mislinked doors and nonexistant or mislinked tags, leading to some pretty iffy bugs. Obviously this game was not playtested well (if it was even playtested at all, and a few things like these bugs and the graphics are leading me to believe it wasn't playtested) and that leads to a game that is, surprisingly, playable. Except for the fact that it's not fun.  
  Battle
    Few games have battles that are more boring than the battles in this game. And unless you run away a lot (like me) you're going to be fighting quite a bit of them due to the absurd encounter rate. The characters get very few abilities and the ones they get are generally useless (about the only thing I ever used was the Cure 1 spell). Also, the enemies have little variety (most just sat there and dealt hits with regular attacks). The battles become "hold-down-space-until-you-get-sick" mania, which is (obviously) not a good thing. If you play this game (which you shouldn't), I wouldn't be surprised if you took the less painful way out and ran from most of the battles.  
  Map Design
    The maps themselves are much like the graphics - a mixed bag. The towns and land map (it really isn't a world map in the traditional sense) are pretty generic looking, but the dungeons is where it starts to get a bit interesting. Many of the dungeons have very good ideas going on - for example there is a dungeon where you can only see in a small area wherever a torch sits (and the rest is pure darkness), and in another dungeon the lights go out about every five seconds. The second of those dungeons also has a small bit of backstory to it involving the spirits of dead people (well, that's what I gathered, anyway). The problem is that these dungeons have good ideas...and that's it. The ideas are good, but the implementation is less than spectacular. All of them are simply mazes where you can walk on ground but not on water/lava/whatever. A maze dungeon here and there is fine, but it gets repetitive when every dungeon is like that. Other types of puzzles should've been included, and the dungeons should've been larger as well. Basically, the game has good ideas for the maps, but ideas is where it takes a halt at the "good" line and crosses over into the "less-than-spectacular" area.  
  Balance
    Hm...well, I ran from many of the fights but I did fight some to get a few levels and fought at least two or three in each new area to get an idea for the balance. For the most part the battles were fairly easy. The biggest issue is that Bill himself is quite a weakling (Xaero is too, for that matter) and the better equipment is hellishly expensive. I let two of the three guards you get (just generic castle guards, wee) do the attacking and they pretty much ran over anything that I fought against. At least the difficulty was fairly consistent...so I guess the balance is alright, although difficulty is preferred over lack of somesuch.  
Music
    There wasn't any. The creator decided to not include music since he can't hear BAM. Therefore, I can't give a score here. If you play this (but why would you?), be sure you load Winamp and put something good on before you start.  
Enjoyment
    Boring and highly abundant battles, dialogue problems up the wazoo, the lack of a storyline, and the bad gameplay all add up to something that is exactly the opposite of "enjoyment". I didn't enjoy this game because it was just simply *boring*. It offered nothing to me, didn't show me anything new, and everything that it did have was way below-average or just barely at the "average" line. It simply isn't worth it to give up 40 or so minutes of your time to plow through this overly boring game.  
Final Blows
    A game is more than the sum of its parts, but this is one of those occasional exceptions to this rule. The game adds up to be something that is a waste of time and is incredibly boring, and isn't worth downloading, let alone playing. Avoid this game as best you can, and find something better to do with the time that could've been wasted on this game.
I need a translator.

I need a translator.
Final Scores
Graphics: 3.5/10.0
Okay. The problem is that they're inconsistent and there are some graphical bugs. Simply average.
Storyline: 1.5/10.0
Well, it gets .5 extra for actually having some kind of story to it, but that story dies about 10 minutes into the game and it becomes a boring plod after that. The disgustingly bad use of English doesn't exactly help, either...
Gameplay: 2/10.0
The creator messed up on arguably the most important part of a game. The gameplay is bad because of the bugs which shouldn't be there and the overly boring battles. It gets a little bit for having some good ideas for maps, but that's it.
Music: 1/10.0
There wasn't any.
Enjoyment: 1/10.0
There are many things that are more enjoyable than this. Making a game better than this is more enjoyable. Having fun with friends is more enjoyable. Knocking your head against the wall is closer to the enjoyment that this game provides.
Overall Grade: F+
Final Thoughts
    Hey, if boring and repetitive battles and nonexistant storyline grab your attention, be my guest and download it. I figure most of you out there aren't like that, however, and in that case just skip over it.  


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