Darklands (video game)
|Release date(s)||1992, 1995 (CD-ROM version)|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
|Distribution||Floppy disk, compact disc|
Darklands is a role-playing video game produced by MicroProse. Released in 1992 for the PC/DOS platform, Darklands is set in the Holy Roman Empire during the 1400's. While the geographic setting of the game is historically accurate, the game also includes many supernatural elements.
The setting for Darklands was medieval Europe as the inhabitants thought the world was at the time. All the cities that one's party may visit in the game are real places that existed in the Holy Roman Empire of the 15th century. Most are in modern-day Germany, but some are in other countries including Denmark, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic and Poland. The city names given in the game are old German names of the cities, some of which are now exonyms; the new local names are given in parentheses.
While the game in the towns and cities was modeled on actual life, monsters and witches existed in the hinterlands. The plot is not linear and there is no set path for a player to follow. However, there is a main quest to follow, which involves preventing the apocalypse. Darklands only ends once the final battle is completed against Baphomet. In addition to adversaries, the players characters can affect events in the game by praying to saints or 'cast spells' by brewing up alchemical potions.
This type of gameplay is an early example of open world in role-playing video games. The player is free to complete quests that will give them a positive reputation, or to pursue a negative reputation by performing evil deeds. In Darklands the player's reputation is limited geographically, allowing the player to be simultaneously hated in one region and exalted in another. Baphomet can be found in a castle in an obscure part of the game map which can only be found after finding and defeating the evil occupants of various other fortresses around the game, in which the party can find information which will point it to the final location. There are a limited number of quest types available, causing the game to become repetitive after extensive play.
There are no other species available in character creation — all players are human and are differentiated by occupation. Any party member is capable of performing what are known as class-based feats in many other role-playing games, but skillful players usually improve the party member's skills only in the appropriate area. Thus, the equivalent of a cleric in this game would be someone who specializes in religious studies as well as healing skills. Because the character specializes in the above, however, does not preclude him or her from learning artifice skills, such as lock picking. Age is a factor. Characters will begin to lose physical prowess as they age. However, the older the player is when the character is generated, the more skills and better equipment he or she starts with.
While the majority of the game uses text-based menus—enhanced with hand-painted illustrations describing the player party's available actions, the party's movement between cities and during battle uses a graphical user interface. The real-time combat is dependent not only on the characters' skills, but also the type and quality of weapons used against the enemy and its armor. For example, using swords against plate armored foes would be less effective than using flails or maces.
|This section requires expansion. (September 2012)|
The game received 4 out of 5 stars in Dragon, which said, "[Darklands] is a great adventure and is certainly one of the best multicharacter FRPGs weve had the delight to play. With well-drawn graphics, multiple quests, good character generation, and flexibility in play, the game's detail is phenomenal."
Darklands was released by MicroProse with a number of bugs, ranging from minor to major. These included many instances of what would now be called crash-to-desktop errors. Additionally, the "character colors bug" results in on-screen characters colors being replaced with random (often bright) colorings. Most of the bugs in the game were correctable by subsequently released patches. Before ubiquitous Internet connectivity, such patches were typically only available through BBS downloads by modem owners and informal person-to-person copying, and thus many gamers were only able to play the originally-released version. This gave Darklands a reputation as a buggy game.
However, the bugs did not stop GameSpot from adding it to their list of "The Greatest Games of All Time". Todd Howard cited the game as an influence on Bethesda Softworks' series The Elder Scrolls.
- Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (February 1993). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (190): 55–60.
- Darklands Domain - Neon Hair Bug
- The Greatest Games of All Time
- Belfiglio, Alexander "Ghostfig101" (July 9, 2009). "15 Years of The Elder Scrolls Series". Planet Elder Scrolls. IGN. Retrieved September 28, 2011. "The main inspiration for The Elder Scrolls comes from games like Ultima Underworld, Darklands, and Legends of Valour. And of course, D&D."