A third-person action-adventure game by Spanish
developers Rebel Act Studios
, published by Codemasters
, and known in the US as Blade of Darkness
. Famously took five years to develop, and it shows. Choosing from one of four characters (a Barbarian
, of Knight
), the player must negotiate a series of fantasy-themed levels (including castles, temples, forts, snowy wastes and the underworld
). Despite some thematic similarities, this is no Diablo
- it's action all the way, like Golden Axe
Although there are a fair amount of platform puzzles and key-hunting, the main emphasis is on meleé combat. There are well over a hundred weapons in the game, ranging from swords and halberds to maces, bows, spades, chairs, rocks and even severed limbs. (Hmm, this writeup is turning into a bunch of lists.)
Coupled to a very accurate physics model (easily the best in any game ever), the combat is very tense and realistic. Precision timing is needed to land some of your more fancy moves (it's slightly reminiscent of Samurai Shodown in that respect), with the physical characteristics of your weapon playing a part in the proceedings (a high-level sword doesn't just have higher arbitrary stats - it actually 'feels' sharper and heavier to use). Limbs and heads can be hacked off, and frequently are.
The game has very impressive dynamic lighting as well, which allows for all kinds of impressive spot effects. The reflective water effect is also quite nice - all these effects combined (on a level such as The Temple of Ianna) create an aesthetically pleasing and well-realised world.
The game does have some flaws. The basic gameplay (combat aside) is very old-fashioned, most similar to Hexen II or Die By The Sword. It's also rather repetitive and the controls, although bearable with practice, do it no favours. A final warning would be the loading times, which can be torturous on a lesser PC. All in all, a technically sound but rather incomplete game.