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Dark Messiah of Might & Magic Review - PC

6
Gameplay: 7 stars 7
Graphics: 9 stars 9
Audio: 6 stars 6
Multiplayer: 4 stars 4
Innovation: 5 stars 5
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Introduction

Playing as Sareth, a young orphan raised by Phenrig, a powerful wizard, you begin a journey to recover a mysterious crystal. Cue one up to the clichés right there. To help on his journey, Sareth is given a companion, Xana, a spirit who lives in his head, who also acts as a love interest of sorts. Well, “love” might be going a bit far. “Lust” would be a more apt term.

Another love interest comes in the form of Leanna, niece of another powerful mage, someone to be protected and defended. Chalk another one for the clichés. Characters and plots are straight from the textbook. Not always a bad thing, if done well, but the implementation here isn't up to scratch.

Dark Messiah has an involved story and, right from the start, nearly every twist is blatantly obvious. The foreshadowing is heavy and the twists more like gentle bends. The major twist in the story comes halfway through the game but once again it's easy to spot it coming.

Gameplay

As a first person shooter (swordsmen? Archer? First person spell caster?) Dark Messiah plays like you would expect. First person melee combat can be hit and miss and, thankfully, Dark Messiah seems to have a handle on the situation.

There are four different types of combat in DM. Melee combat, which seems to be the most satisfying; plus archery, stealth and sorcery.

Melee combat is the most advanced and the most productive. Archery is only useful when you have the terrain advantage and stealth is not always an option. Magical ability is broken into different disciplines, fire, lightening, ice, which are useful against different enemies.

As you complete objectives you're given skill points to grow your character. As it turns out, killing enemies won't get you any experience points, unless that's part of your mission. This means that playing the stealth card and sneaking isn't punished by lack of character growth, but it also means that there's no reason to fight most of the enemies when you can just avoid them.

While it would be nice to say you can play any way you want, the truth is that melee combat is where most of the power lies. Sure you can sneak around and stab people in the back for a one hit kill, steal their keys to avoid combat altogether and play the waiting game to your heart's content, but eventually you have to fight blade to blade.

The same applies to magic. You can fire all the spells you want from afar, but once you're swarmed by the legions of the undead, melee combat is your only answer. Thankfully the melee combat is satisfying. Not only are there the standard attacks, but once you ... (continued next page)