Dark Seed (video game)

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Dark Seed
Dark Seed Cover.jpg
Developer(s) Incentive Software (Amiga)
Cyberdreams
Publisher(s) Amiga
DOS, Amiga CD32 & Macintosh
Cyberdreams
Sega Saturn & PlayStation
Gaga
Artist(s) H. R. Giger
Platform(s) Amiga, DOS, Amiga CD32, Macintosh, Sega Saturn, PlayStation
Release date(s) Amiga
DOS
Amiga CD32
Macintosh
Sega Saturn
  • JP July 7, 1995
PlayStation
  • JP October 27, 1995
Genre(s) Psychological horror, Point-and-click adventure
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution 3½" floppy disk, CD-ROM

Dark Seed is a psychological horror point-and-click adventure game developed and published by Cyberdreams in 1992. It exhibits a normal world and a dark world counterpart, which is based on the artwork by H. R. Giger. It was one of the first point-and-click adventure games to use high-resolution (640 x 400 pixels) graphics, to Giger's demand. A sequel, Dark Seed II, was released in 1995.

Story[edit]

Mike Dawson is a successful advertising executive and writer who has recently purchased an old mansion on Ventura Drive (named after Ventura Boulevard) in the small town of Woodland Hills. On his first night at the house, Mike has a nightmare about being imprisoned by a machine that shoots an alien embryo into his brain. He wakes up with a severe headache and, after taking some aspirins and a shower, explores the mansion. He finds clues about the previous owner's death, which reveal the existence of a parallel universe called the Dark World ruled by sinister aliens called the Ancients.

On the second day, he travels to that universe through the living room mirror and meets the Keeper of the Scrolls, a friendly darkworlder. She tells him that the nightmare at the beginning of the game was real and warns him that if the embryo—the eponymous Dark Seed—is born, it will kill him and all of humanity. The only way to stop this, she says, is to destroy the Ancient's Power Source.

On the third and final day, Mike executes an elaborate plan that culminates with the Ancient ship's departure on the Dark World, depriving them of their power source, and the destruction of the living room mirror, sealing the Ancients out of the Normal World. The game ends with the town librarian visiting Mike and telling him she found some pills in her purse. "It's a prescription filled to you", she says, "for relief of severe headaches". The medication will presumably kill the embryo inside his head. A morphing animation reveals that, unbeknown to the librarian, she is the Keeper of the Scrolls' counterpart. Mike then states that he's just beginning to understand.

Gameplay[edit]

Unlike most point-and-click adventure games, which give the player time to explore, many actions in Dark Seed must occur within precise time limits, or the game will end up in an unwinnable state. As a result of this one must start over repeatedly to win without resorting to a walkthrough.[2]

Ports[edit]

The original game was released for Amiga, DOS, Amiga CD32, Macintosh, Sega Saturn and PlayStation. The PlayStation and Saturn versions were released only in Japan; however, the Saturn version is not dubbed in Japanese, only subtitled,[3] making the game's story still accessible to English speakers. However, these ports have been criticized for doubling the speed that time flows in the game, as well as speeding up the soundtrack. The Saturn version is compatible with the Sega Saturn Netlink Mouse.

There was also a version developed for the Sega Mega-CD and even promoted for American release, but publisher Vic Tokai never released it. An unlicensed version was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in Chinese, however an English translated ROM is currently being worked on by a small nonprofit team. The main character, Mike Dawson, is named after the game's designer and producer. He also lent his appearance to the character's sprite.

Reception[edit]

Computer Gaming World called Dark Seed in 1992 "the most integrated and effective feel for a horror adventure yet" but criticized the unforgiving real-time gameplay that often caused unwinnable situations, hard-to-find on-screen puzzle elements, and an overly abrupt ending, stating that "the interactive elements are so poorly implemented that they nearly destroy the effect" of the graphics and sound. The magazine nonetheless concluded that the game "hint[s] at tremendous potential", and hoped that Cyberdreams' future games would be "not only beautiful, but fun to play".[2] The game was reviewed in 1992 in Dragon #188 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 3 out of 5 stars.[4] On release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the Sega Saturn version of the game a 24 out of 40.[5]

In 1993 the game received a Codie award from the Software Publishing Association for Best Fantasy Role-Playing/Adventure.[6]

Legacy[edit]

An urban legend spread that the intense pressure of designing Dark Seed gave lead designer, Mike Dawson, a mental breakdown.[7] However, he actually left the games industry after completing Dark Seed and moved into television writing (including some episodes of Family Matters) until the late 1990s, wrote four books on programming (including Beginning C++ Game Programming and Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner) and is teaching game design and programming classes at Stanford University and UCLA.[1][8]

In 2006 Gametrailers.com named it the seventh scariest game of all time,[9] ranking it above Clock Tower, System Shock 2, and Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wallis, Alistair (28 September 2006). "Playing Catch Up: Darkseed's Mike Dawson". Gamasutra. Think Services. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Miller, Val (1992-09). "Cyberdreams Gives Birth To Their First Graphic Adventure". Computer Gaming World. pp. 88–90. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Segagaga, see the Dark Seed video in "Movie Vault".
  4. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia & Lesser, Kirk (December 1992). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (188): 57–64. 
  5. ^ NEW GAMES CROSS REVIEW: ダークシード. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.343. Pg.31. 14 July 1995.
  6. ^ "Awards - Thy Name Is Controversy". Computer Gaming World. 1993-05. p. 146. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  7. ^ http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/column_index.php?story=8420
  8. ^ http://programgames.com/
  9. ^ Gametrailers Top Ten Scariest Games

External links[edit]