Darklands is an early-1990s CRPG, set in 15th-century medieval Germany. Published by Microprose for the IBM, it featured a highly advanced (for its time) real-time combat system, as opposed to the turn-based systems used by the "gold box" AD&D games of SSI.

It was also notable for its portrayal of an alternate medieval world which asked the question "what if the superstitions and folklore of the Dark Ages were true?" Thus, players could fight various foes ranging from common street thugs, to angry villagers, evil raubritters (literally, "robber barons"), as well as more supernatural creatures like witches, werewolves, and even a dragon. The game world was richly provided with a "historically accurate" atmosphere, with player characters dealing with the merchant guilds such as the Hanseatic League, the Fuggers, and the de Medicis, as well as the all-powerful Catholic Church.

"Magic" in this world consisted of prayers offered up to specific Catholic saints (for example, praying to St. Francis of Assisi would lend you help in dealing with animals) or alchemical potions, but such prayers and potions take a back seat to good old-fashioned hack-and-slash. Of course, everything I know about Catholic saints comes from Darklands. :-)

The arms and armor system is a refreshing contrast to the overpowering "Monty Haul" magical arsenal featured in most other CRPGs - most equipment in the game is non-magical (and degrades with use), and while you could purchase varying qualities of armament, any alchemical bonuses you could place on them would only be temporary.

The gameplay itself is non-linear - you wandered all over the map looking for wrongs to right, pursuing the main storyline when you so chose.

Although quite buggy in its initial release (even for the standards of the time) it was extremely engrossing, especially for gamers looking for a bit more "realism" than the standard AD&D systems used by its contemporaries.

And I'll just mention that I almost didn't graduate from college due to this wonderfully buggy game.