Blade of Darkness:
In many ways this game is similar to Rune - third person, action-combat oriented, melee focus, good vs. evil leading to battle against ultimate evil. But Blade of Darkness is different in many ways. First, you get to choose between four characters - knight, barbarian, dwarf and amazon - each with their own opening act, their own combat focus and combos and weapon specialization. That adds some instant replayability that Rune lacks. Also, Blade of Darkness features a rudimentary levelling system - one that gives you more health, defense and combat energy, and unlocks combos for specific weapons. Another significant difference is the violence and gore factor - when you can sever a limb or head, then pick up that bloodied head and use it to beat the next enemy to death … you know you are no longer in T-rated-land.
I played as Sargon, the knight, who focuses on single handed weapons and uses a sword and shield mode. You begin in a prison cell, betrayed by a breakaway faction of knights led by a great warrior knight … who is in turn led by an evil warlord (and if you play the game to the fullest, you will be able to find out who *he* is working for as well). Once you have escaped, you enter the main storyline of the game which is common to all character classes. This story involves rescuing the leader of the good knights, piecing together a legend of how to destroy the evil warlord, attempting to secure fortresses and temples before they are captured, and ultimately facing the source of the evil threat. Like Rune, you will not be chatting up villagers - the only non-enemies you see are dead knights littering the captured fortresses. However, the enemies you face are more varied and interesting, and the puzzles more satisfying. I enjoyed the combat system very much - you can only swing your sword so much before you become fatigued, and need to wait a few seconds to 'catch your breath'. There are built-in combo attacks which can be very useful - such as the back attack (similar to the one from Jedi Knight II) which was particularly helpful keeping yourself alive against one foe who could teleport behind you and hit with a life-draining attack. The weapon-specific attacks, however, require a much more complex series of key combinations, timed correctly, which I found to be more a matter of trial and error than precision execution. There were only two weapon combos that would consistently execute - and that was a good thing, as one of those combos was pretty much required to complete the game.
After completing both games it is clear that they are both very enjoyable, if plot light, games. Personally, I was constantly waiting for Rune to transition from the beginning to the 'meat' of the game, yet by the end, I was fully engaged. Blade of Darkness gave me a better feeling of motivation to keep going and complete the game.