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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Darklands - Retrospective Review @ RPG Codex

Default Darklands - Retrospective Review @ RPG Codex

August 24th, 2013, 23:51
Roxor from RPG Codex has written a retrospective review on Darklands, a game released by Micropose in 1992. Roxor mentions that:

[….] there was also one RPG that I believe was truly ahead of its time, and was never quite matched in some respects. It's also quite heavily overlooked nowadays, which in my opinion is downright scandalous. Considering that Josh Sawyer seems to be all the rage on the Codex these days and this game is one of his favourites, I decided that it was time to write a few words about it. The game in question was released by Microprose and its name is Darklands.
A quote then, on character creation:

Each character can choose from a variety of backgrounds, from noble heir to rural commoner, which will influence their statistics in various ways. A nobleman will start with an edge in reading and writing, while a city trader will have higher streetwise. The background also determines the occupations available to your character during childhood, which, again, switches the numbers around in skills. A freshly-created adventurer is 20 years old, but you can choose to draw out his career over more years, each extension giving more skill points, and aging the character by 5 years.
A quote, then, on the travel system:

When travelling from city to city, your party gets placed on an overland map of medieval Germany. Travel speed is dependent on a few factors, such as whether your party has horses (and how high their quality is) and the type of terrain you are moving through. Roads are the fastest form of travel, but obviously they don't lead everywhere, and sometimes you will need to make a detour through forests, swamps, etc, which all slow your party down. There are also some impassable objects like deep waters and mountains, unless you pray to a saint for miraculous guidance (everyone can be Jesus and walk on water! Thanks, Saint Florian). The map also changes along with the seasons, and it is not uncommon to run into a particularly nasty blizzard when travelling in winter.
Apparently Darklands were the first game to introduce realtime with pause during combat, namely:

an Innovative Real-Time With PauseTM system. During battle, you can control each of your dudes separately, pause the action with the spacebar and issue orders. Your characters have a pretty good array of combat stances that influence theirstats - parrying will do less damage but significantly up the defence, seeking vulnerable places in an enemy's defence will increase armour penetration, but decrease attack speed, etc.
Roxor's conclusion:

Microprose gave us an absolute classic that should be checked out by every self-respecting RPG enthusiast out there, especially those who favour simulation above all else. It also makes an excellent treat for those who have a big love for history. Not to mention that the game is simply a gift that keeps on giving because just about everything in it is procedurally generated, so no two playthroughs are the same, and you're bound to stumble upon something new each time you press "create a new world".
More information.
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August 24th, 2013, 23:51
Definitely a game which would deserve a (proper) remake or spiritual successor. I'd back that on Kickstarter in an instant.
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August 25th, 2013, 00:06
Originally Posted by abharsair View Post
Definitely a game which would deserve a (proper) remake or spiritual successor. I'd back that on Kickstarter in an instant.
Someone should make a kickstarter. I'm sure the license could be bought cheaply nowadays. This would be one game were I would spend more than the minimum.

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August 25th, 2013, 00:28
A new Darklands would be cool, I agree with Darth Roxor that turn based combat would enhance the gameplay.

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August 25th, 2013, 01:17
Really great game. Not sure it needs a faithful remake, rather it's gameplay and ideas (saints were pretty cool amongst many other neat ideas) could be the template for a modern game, in the same way that XCOM EU is a more modern take on the XCOM franchise.
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August 25th, 2013, 02:21
Actually since it is historically based they could make it without the license as long as they don't call it Darklands.
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August 25th, 2013, 03:08
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
Actually since it is historically based they could make it without the license as long as they don't call it Darklands.
True but they it wouldn't be Darklands would it? Just kidding I wouldn't mind that either.

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August 25th, 2013, 05:16
Deutschland im Mittelalter

Germany in the Dark Ages

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
Last edited by HiddenX; August 25th, 2013 at 09:51.
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August 25th, 2013, 09:46
an Innovative Real-Time With PauseTM system. During battle, you can control each of your dudes separately, pause the action with the spacebar and issue orders.
Interesting. I didn't realize that there were games from that far back that used a RTwP combat system. So Darklands was the first eh?
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August 25th, 2013, 09:49
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Interesting. I didn't realize that there were games from that far back that used a RTwP combat system. So Darklands was the first eh?
Knights of Xentar has RTwP, too - 1991 (Darklands: 1992).

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August 25th, 2013, 09:51
I'm talking about real crpgs.
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August 25th, 2013, 10:01
Knights of Xentar is a fun game - plays like a western CRPG with nekkid chicks…

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August 25th, 2013, 10:13
I like the way it interwove the setting with the story. Wonder how this could be done in modern days even through possible indie formats, though.
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August 25th, 2013, 11:07
Interesting game as I am curently playing trough, I don't know why but I am not able to play with a party of bandit,thief.All the events all what you do brings fame and good karma, even all the caravans I can interact is only in a peaceful way and rarely,by rarely I mean two times per year I can see a event where for some reason my only option is to rescue the caravan of the attacking bandits.Why would some some that prefers to remain unknow and concealed, would want to rescue the caravan or get good fame in city,villages

Game is good but not great as some one is trying to say, since for one it looks like is tailored for one type of playthrough, like other crpgs where other options of game are just superficial.
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August 25th, 2013, 16:56
So nice to see this old classic mentioned as it is one of my all time favorite games - just adored playing this at the time it was released and almost never see it mentioned.

Character is centrality, the impossibility of being displaced or overset. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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August 25th, 2013, 19:01
Originally Posted by Couchpotato View Post
Someone should make a kickstarter. I'm sure the license could be bought cheaply nowadays. This would be one game were I would spend more than the minimum.
Maybe the Codex and the Watch could do a fundraiser to buy the license and then pitch the idea of a remake to Brian Fargo or something.
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August 25th, 2013, 19:40
Originally Posted by abharsair View Post
Maybe the Codex and the Watch could do a fundraiser to buy the license and then pitch the idea of a remake to Brian Fargo or something.
uh oh - this ends always expensive for me …

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August 26th, 2013, 08:25
Originally Posted by Igor View Post
Interesting game as I am curently playing trough, I don't know why but I am not able to play with a party of bandit,thief.All the events all what you do brings fame and good karma, even all the caravans I can interact is only in a peaceful way and rarely,by rarely I mean two times per year I can see a event where for some reason my only option is to rescue the caravan of the attacking bandits.Why would some some that prefers to remain unknow and concealed, would want to rescue the caravan or get good fame in city,villages
This is quite typical of the games of that era. You dont really have the option of being evil. IIRC the only place where you could choose a side was when clearing a mine.

That said I'd like to see a remake, Darklands' setting is unique, and the combat was way ahead of it's time.
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August 26th, 2013, 09:05
I remember sitting for hours going through several itterations of character creation. IMO the best character creation I have seen to date. And no useless skills even though there are plenty of them.
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August 26th, 2013, 09:15
I guess it says something about my gaming preferences that I thoroughly enjoyed the amount of story in this game (read: none).

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