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-   -   Dark Messiah - Scathing Review @ The Game Chair (https://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=926)

Kalia December 14th, 2006 07:05

Dark Messiah - Scathing Review @ The Game Chair
The Game Chair, a site dedicated to playing games in depth and writing 'progressive' reviews (usually three parts), has called a halt to the review process after a single part and scored Dark Messiah of Might & Magic a paltry 2/4:

Oh, Dark Messiah, how do I hate thee; let me count the ways. First letís talk about storyline. Iíve played some misogynist lite games in my day; however, Dark Messiah features a storyline which may even cause certain Custerís Revenge developers to blush with envy. I play as the apprentice of a completely mad sorcerer bent on world domination. Neither of us appears to have any motivations whatsoever. Oh yea, did I mention that Iím also possessed by a shape-shifting soft-core dominatrix? Donít ask; I have no idea. All I know is that she wants me to learn to enjoy the pain. My soul sharing porn-fairy also makes continuous unCortana like comments in her hornster drawl. Iím sure the actress involved had to take several showers after that recording session. Combine this poor acting with cutscenes that somehow manage to look worse than the game engine and you have a recipe for disaster.
More information.

xSamhainx December 14th, 2006 07:05


I love scathing reviews:D

edit- Wait, is that paragraph the review in it's entirety??

booyah_boy December 14th, 2006 08:12

Misogynistic? How? I'm afraid I cannot agree with the reviewer's take on the game which, while flawed, is not as worthless a product as their review claims.

Acleacius December 14th, 2006 09:37

Yes I can't find a link either, since game chair review brings up reviews of game chairs. :p


Wait I found it. :)

Ok here's what I get from it, he seems to be using 1/4 point system.

The Negative knocked off 25% of bad story and acting, then 25% off for the bad bugs.

The positive he gives 25% for the best H2H combat he has ever played and 25% for the best Magic he has every used.

So it ends up with 50% or 2/4, still seems progressivly scored well that's my quick take on it, anyway. :)

I don't really get his take on the hating women thing, that’s pretty severe as many game Devs, seem to enhance women's figures unnaturally.
There is a tension between some women but I still don't get the hate reference.

I do pretty much agree with the bugs, weak ass story on the negative side.

Its the positive side I agree on 100% has to be the best combat and magic I have played to date, not to mention a return of a most beloved weapon, not seen since the like's of Thief series the Rope Bow.
I don't mean some pale imitation, we are talking superior here in everyway.
Can't deside if it had me ready to weep for joy at what I was seeing or weep for sorrow of what Thief 3 could have been.

Oh and the Magic, body effects of casting the likes of never seen before in a game and combat that makes not just your fingers twitch but your whole body.
Getting your first decap is a thrill, not to mention head kicking. :p

Ok one thing though on the replay, I am not sure there really is a reason to replay for most, maybe but I would almost recommend giving yourself extra points so you can experience all forms of combat's diversity.

Here's my thinking if you play through this game once I doubt you will again, lets say you pick to focus on Weapon Combat so you can experience the best to date on a PC, never playing again you will completely miss out on the Best Thief Backstab in games and again the most wicked of body casting spell effects. :)

So its up to you if you play you have a chance to play to most visceral combat Magic, Weapon or Thief to date, if these things don't interest you skip this game big time nothing else will be worth your time or money.

It would be nice if PB paid attention to this combat, I think.

txa1265 December 14th, 2006 14:23

My reviews have already been linked, and since I scored the game very much on the low end … it is pretty clear that I agree with this reviewer.

But I still think he should have played it through to the end. That's just my work ethic …

dagoo77 December 14th, 2006 16:22


Originally Posted by Acleacius (Post 12416)

So its up to you if you play you have a chance to play to most visceral combat Magic, Weapon or Thief to date, if these things don't interest you skip this game big time nothing else will be worth your time or money.

I bought the game for that reason, and after two months and two patches the only thing I've experienced is visceral stuttering, crashes, and reboots. This has indeed been an engaging experience that has got my blood flowing and my heart rate up. So from my perspective and others like me, the game is still an utter failure and piece o' **** regardless of how good the combat might be or well-endowed the graphics.

People should be aware of the fact that this game simply doesn't work for a great number of people (including those like me with high-end systems) before they buy, even if combat is their main attraction. At the very least make sure you buy from someplace with a decent return policy.

Jake December 14th, 2006 17:55

My take on women as objects.

I feel that the distinction here between Dark Messiah and "Misogynist Light" games like God of War or Prey is this. In God of War, female characters are being treated as objects by another character. In Dark Messiah, female characters exist solely for the purpose of sexual innuendo. They have no other life or purpose outside of this. The primary distinction is one of character. In God of War, it's a character treating women badly. In Dark Messiah, it's the author that's mistreating women. I feel like this is a very important distinction. Also, just because lines are crossed all the time in gaming, doesn't mean we should stand for it.

-Jake (original author of review)

abbaon December 14th, 2006 18:11

If the female characters in DMoMnM only existed for the purpose of sexual innuendo - they don't, since Leanna doesn't provide any, and neither do any of the extras you meet in Stonehelm, but if they did - then the author would be sexist, not a misogynist. A charge of misogyny is not supported by the evidence.

Dyne December 14th, 2006 20:39

I think it's worth pointing out that the devilwoman character is just that, a devilwoman. A succubus. So her sexualisation and comicbook-style bondage attitude is justified.

Leanna doesn't exist solely as a simple source of sexual innuendo. Her skills are necessary for the progress of the journey. In fact, even the devilwoman (whose name escapes me now) shows her prescence is a boon for Sareth in later points, not just an excuse for smutty comments.

Granted, Leanna's dress sense isn't exactly what I'd think of being practical for the adventuring life, but that's the fantasy genre all over. From the work of the majority of fantasy illustrators, to the rather racy constumes of various superheroes from comicbooks.

Not sure what the author means by a lack of motivation for the characters. Unless it's a deep philosophical point about the nature of power, and worth of the pursuit of power in and of itself, the motivation's quite clear. Sorcerer wants power, Sareth wants the adventurer's life. Granted it's no "you killed my father, prepare to die", but if writers only used that we'd be incredulous at the gall of them using the same faintly melodramatic motivation every time. That's not to say the story's not totally see-through and rather ham-fistededly delivered. It is, and it's not immediately compelling nor deeply cerebral, but it's not a deal-breaker in my mind.

It's probably been said heard before, but for those having big problems with stuttering and a Direct3D crash, set textures to "medium" quality. Worked very well for me. It IS a buggy, somewhat unreliable game, but there's a fun romp to be had if you can get past the problems.

Jake December 14th, 2006 20:46

Greek roots
Taken as the culmination of its Greek roots, Misogyny simply means hatred of women; however, taken with a western grain of political and sociological context, the word has been frequently used to refer to the subjugation of women by cultural means. Xana certainly falls into this category, with Arkaneís constant reliance on sexuality to create her personality.

Leanna on the other hand, is slightly more subtle. In my opinion, she represents the virgin character, often presented as a foil to the hyper-sexual demon female in misogynist literature. The not-so-subtle implication of this common symbolism is that the only good woman is one who has saved herself for her husband. This is most commonly a Christian symbol, but shows up in other cultural literature also.

Keep in mind, that Iíve only played through the retaking of the ship, so if these characters do redeem themselves I apologize for pigeon holing them so quickly. I also understand that the writing in most games really canít be held up to great literature for side-by-side comparison. However, if we donít raise a stink about poor writing now, weíre sure to get more of it.

Take a game like Halo 2 for example. Here we have a very masculine game with plenty of childish themes. On the other hand, we also have great characters with fully developed back stories and motivations. The female characters in Halo 2 are well written, well acted, and far thrown from the ridiculous stereotypes all too common in gaming. For a couple other examples, take a look at Oblivion or Twilight Princess, games that actually do warrant side-by-side comparisons with great literature.

Thanks to everybody for the great comments and discussion. Controversy is fun :)

txa1265 December 14th, 2006 21:18

Leanna is more mainstream, but still a very thinly developed stereotypical love interest - when told to look for her, it is simple - look for the pretty girl with the big boobs.

From there on out, it is the 'I hardly know you but already I think I love you' syndrome …

Acleacius December 14th, 2006 23:52

Jake, thanks for your replies. :)

I didn't realize you only played through retaking of the ship, Leanna does start showing her usefulness in this level, by providing Magic attack support and Healing of the PC and herself if necessary, so yes that was just the start of the story developing.
I understand the frustration many people are having with the game technically which often causes a much harsher view overall, understandable cause I've been there. ;)

You won't find a more staunch alley in the fight for the equally of women in life, literature, games, not to mention teaching women’s and children’s self-defense.
Living here in the US where women themselves seem to have forgotten the struggle for equal rights, which currently 13 (mostly southern) bigot and racist states are intentionally blocking the Constitutional amendment.
They are being funded by many cooperation’s (don't want to pay women equally) and evangelical groups (whom want women forced to stay at home).
Btw a disclaimer, to anyone whom might be concerned no not all evangelicals, many are good people trying to do the right thing.
There does exist a strong inhumane group mostly based out of the Southern Baptist Convention whom documents read of women doing the bidding of their husbands (or there about).

In the Game on the island the ship takes you too, is a book you find that tells of Demons and how the weak, foolish and power-hungry allow them to possession, going on to describe this hellish deal as completely losing battle for the host.
Not to mention there is a choice 3/4 into the game, in the matter if Xenna stays with you as part of the plot twist, which while not the great twist is legitimate.

Look realize I have criticized this story a lot, but in regards to Leanna, while I didn't think of her as virginal, I did think of her as a story breaker in the since she is portraying a Lawful Good Mage,
There fore she has no business with Metlack or Metlack has no business with Phering, it can't be both ways.
Reaon being she shows later in the game she has the ability to see good versus evil auras and would have seen through Metlack easily, yet in the dinner scene she clearly respects and obeys out of peer and familial loyalty.
Metlack knows Phering is evil and your are the DM, yet what benefit would Metlack have by helping evil destroy the world he obviously loves, i.e. he apologies to Leanna as he dies, he has wealth and power while seemingly watching over Stonehelm and to some extent it's guardian.
Why would he support the destruction of all he values?

So this seems to come from the legitimate frustration of technical issues, it happens no big deal, man. :)

Kalia December 15th, 2006 00:46

Sorry for the sloppy reporting and forgetting the link. *sighs* It's been one of those days. :P

abbaon December 15th, 2006 02:40


Originally Posted by Jake (Post 12476)
Taken as the culmination of its Greek roots, Misogyny simply means hatred of women; however, taken with a western grain of political and sociological context, the word has been frequently used to refer to the subjugation of women by cultural means. Xana certainly falls into this category, with Arkane’s constant reliance on sexuality to create her personality.

Taken as the culmination of its Greek roots, or from an English language dictionary. In the same vein, could you tell me the definition of "subjugate" you're working from here? Without a background in feminist gender theory, I have no such certainty that a hyper-sexualised videogame character, created to exploit the male interest in sex, will conquer or subdue the women who see her.

Acleacius December 15th, 2006 06:54

Ouch that sucks man, we are trying to get fatBastard() up and running, atm.
If ther's anything we can do to try our techy skills out, come to this thread and let us know what happening? :)

" it is pretty clear that I agree with this reviewer."
I really like your review as always, though you were more forgiving than I of the story. :)

"Sorry for the sloppy reporting and forgetting the link"
Omg it's so over between us. :p
Just getting us the news is what's important, it's not like we can't help out here and there. :)

"you killed my father, prepare to die"
God I loved that moive, I hope it stands the test of time but some many don't..
"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

txa1265 December 15th, 2006 07:25


Originally Posted by Acleacius (Post 12550)
"you killed my father, prepare to die"
God I loved that moive, I hope it stands the test of time but some many don't..
"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

It is already 20 years … and had my kids rolling with laughs - I'd say it is doing just fine.

Jake December 15th, 2006 19:52

The definition of subjugate
The definition of subjugate Iím working from is, ďto make submissive.Ē Culturally, it makes no difference whether youíre teaching the female to act submissively or teaching the male to expect the female to act submissively. These memes pass culturally because they have no other means to pass, no basis in fact. A character whose sexuality and personality are indistinguishable is a perfect example of this.

Yes, I agree that the primary purpose of writing hyper-sexualized characters is to exploit the male interest in sex to sell more games; however, the overuse of these stereotypes does do real damage. Of course, even the ďtarget demographicĒ playing through Dark Messiah wonít get the impression that Xana is a realistic character. The effects are subtle, but measurable and definitely worth the debate.

Lurk December 15th, 2006 23:05

I don't really get why it's a problem that Xana doesn't behave like a realistic human being. She isn't one. She is supposed to be a demon, a twisted parody of a real living being, an embodiment of "wrong". Her kind (not just succbi, but all demons) appeal to the basest human instincts, because that's all there is to them. Arantir and several books in the game say so explicitly.

Now Leana's clumsy and rushed characterisation, who is supposed to be Xana's opposite, that's cringe-inducingly bad.

Acleacius December 16th, 2006 00:15

"A character whose sexuality and personality are indistinguishable is a perfect example of this"
I am not sure I agree or am I clear which category you example is intended.
Are saying if sexuality is part of someone's personality they are subjugator or subjugated?
Or are you saying if sexuality isn't part of someone's personality they would then be subjugator or subjugated?
I do think you’re off on the wrong track personally, subjugation is more of cultural imprint than based on biological evolution of sexuality into a persons being.

"however, the overuse of these stereotypes does do real damage"
Since kids/people (whom are we referring too here) are imprinted culturally and this is an teen/adult (right?) game, anyone getting their hands on this should already have a personality and sexuality nor will those be impacted or won't change anyone’s belief/biological systems.

It could easily be said about HL2 Alex is immediatly smitten with Gordon who never says jack.
Certainly the hero is more defined since he actually has speech and has an emotional range on top of it (hey look I am not arguing this is Shakespearean) and Leanna certainly becomes important to the story and while doesn't carry a gun, she can Heal and cast a mighty Fire Arrow. ;)
The hero stumbles and stammers (as does Leanna) at the site of Leanna (this is called equal footing :) ), never seeing a women before (Xenna, not sure if you count her as a woman, I don't).
Remember this guy has been cooped up with some Necro, for 20 years, think Arnold in Twins but from the Darkside. ;)

Things like this happen in real life it's not subjugation, people can and are often drawn together on a chemical DNA level, which we (RL humans) are just beginning to understand.
If people don't understand sexuality of course things can take a turn for the bad but if culturally people are aware of sexuality and not taught fear/guilt its quite healthy and could even be argued essential and mandatory to existence.

"Xana is a realistic character. ……."
Well this is based on fantasy and most of us or anyone showing interest have played things like D&D and it's know fact if you see a robe wearing guy summon a creature and inhabits your body, no matter whether she is dressed or not, know something ain't right at home. :p

This is clearly based on mythos, now just because they didn't have time for equal footing on the PC (it's obvious the title was rushed and single player should have had much better testing), so in my mind at least (I am guessing others as well) if we had been able to choose a gender they would have had a male succubus would you have felt the same?

If you are just speaking generally of course this is misused in every media format, though it just seems like you are blaming this one game.
To me education is always the key.

abbaon December 16th, 2006 09:27

I question the value of conflating those elements of traditional and modern sexuality which we dislike, rolling them up into this single idea of "submission". Xana embodies proactive power in her attitude to sex. She's the male stereotype of the leering lecher in female form. On the question of reactive power, I find her to be mute; questions of refusal or submission never arise. It would require a particularly tortured chain of reasoning to explain her aggressive, domineering behaviour as submissiveness.

Which is not to say that she offers a positive role model, an entertaining characterisation, or much of anything besides embarrassment for your hobby. I just don't see her subjugating anyone.

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