Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Game Review: Dark Chronicle

Every second Wednesday, I write about a game that I've played in a short/long review. These are only my thoughts and I'm not responsible if you buy a game based solely on my review and you hate the guts out of it...

PS2 gamers will probably have got themselves a demo disc of games coming soon and a few years ago, this disc contained a demo of the game Dark Cloud from Level 5. I played this and thought it was good. Couldn't find the darned thing anywhere when I finally got round to saying that I wanted it though. Thankfully, I was reliably informed that the sequel was not too far behind. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Dark Chronicle is that sequel.

The game revolves around Max, who lives with his father and wants to find out more about his mother who went far away (can't remember that well now...). Max also works as a mechanic in Cedric's workshop in Palm Brinks which had a problem of it's own. No-one was being allowed out of the town and the railroad was completely closed off by order of the mayor. You soon find out that the world is in chaos as whole towns and villages have been destroyed and need to be rebuilt.

This is the game that introduced me to cel-shaded graphics. Boy, I loved it. I don't know what about the graphics made me like it so much but it looked brilliant for that stage of the PS2's life (a bit dated now, Max's hands are a bit off :p). The game is an Action-Adventure-RPG dungeon crawler where you go into each area, kill some enemies and find the key to get out.

It's not as easy as that though. Max has 2 types of weapon as does the other playable character, Monica, but I won't spoil her involvement in the story too much. Max (being a mechanic) has a wrench and a gun while Monica wields a sword and a bracelet which casts magic. Each weapon has a WHP bar that drops as you hit enemies. If this drops to zero, you will not be able to deal any more damage and you lose a bit of EXP on the weapon. Better than Dark Cloud though where a weapon would shatter and disappear entirely.

To upgrade your weapons (no character level building here though you can give them their favourite items to boost their max HP and defence), you need to gain EXP from defeated enemies to level up your weapons. Once they level up, you can use the bonus points gained by levelling up to add elements and traits to your weapons. By doing this, you can transform your weapons and make them more powerful until you are killing enemies easily. You can even break your weapon (needs to be level 5 or above) to add to a new one with a % of points and traits carried over. Not a simple system by any means but a very flexible one.

I haven't even got round to talking about the mini-games either. You can do some fishing in the dungeons once it's clear and you can use the fish to heal your HP once cooked, or raise the fish for the fish race, or even in a contest where the person with the heaviest fishes wins! You can also play Spheda, a sort of Everybody's Golf esque mini-game that is played on the actual dungeon you've just cleared! All this and you can gain medals for each level for clearing the dungeon in a certain way or within a time limit. You can also control a robot (for Max) and even change into a monster (for Monica) to defeat your enemies. Did I mention the robot is also customisable?

Also included is the invention system where you can take photos of various things in the world and use them to create items that you can make with the necessary materials, including a few that may be useful to your robot. The georama system is used to recreate your own towns and villages and as long as you meet certain conditions, you can do whatever you want!

I've talked about this game long enough but as you can see, there's so much to talk about that you won't be short on options. It will take a long time to finish this game completely but you won't be bored doing it. Steer clear if you hate dungeon crawling but otherwise, this is a superb game and should be purchased without delay - well, if you can find it on eBay...

Score - 10/10

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