Dark Cloud review
At least SOME people remember Actraiser

The good:

Amazing hack n slash gameplay with a sweet twist
Kickass soundtrack
Good story
Decent looking graphics

The bad:

Gets kind of boring at times


Dark Cloud is a good game, and somewhat nostalgic. If you've spent countless hours playing Sim City on PC or Actraiser on the SNES, you'll have an idea of the twist this game adds to the usual dungeon crawling hack n slash formula. I have to say that without the twist, the game wouldn't be as good as it is.

It plays like your usual hack n slash, yeah. Basically what you do, is that you explore dungeons, hacking at enemies and getting all the treasures. Your typical dungeon crawler, though there are some differences.

Your treasures aren't just items and gold, you also have to collect these things called Atla. According to the story of the game, this thing called the Dark Genie destroyed the world and all the towns are sealed within the Atla (which are spheres floating in dungeons). So basically, you're not going anywhere without reconstructing the town.

The town starts as an empty desolate field, but as you collect Atla, you can rebuild the town from the ground up. When you get a full set, you can talk to the people and ask what they want in terms of property placement (like some want to be at the dungeon or away from certain people). When you fully obey the townspeople by placing the houses and such where they request it all, you can get this powerful item and you'll be set. You also get the boss key if you set up certain bigger locations correctly, and you need this key to beat the dungeon.

Another twist would be the allies. You get about 5 allies and they're different from one another. One fires seeds from her slingshot, one has a huge axe and one even carries guns around. Anyway, you can switch allies, however, unless you have a certain item, once an ally dies you leave the dungeon. That's kind of a bitch, but there's worse out there.

The weapons, for example, can actually break. When you hack at enemies for long enough, your weapon's about to break. With some repair powder you get from shops (with the gold you get from enemies), you can repair your weapons, but man, this gets annoying rather quickly.

It's not as if you're in danger most of the time because enemies aren't all too bright, though they can kill you if you're not paying much attention. There are different varieties of them, though in the later dungeons, they end up palette swapping and power increasing them to make them different enemies. Defeating enemies is a requirement though, as one of them carries a key and with the key, you can progress through the dungeon.

As for the bosses, they're pretty cool, though (with the exception of one) they're fairly easy. You have to expose a sort of weakness and make use of your new ally (sometimes they're required to expose weaknesses of bosses) so you can beat the bosses down. Even if the fights are fairly easy and formulaic, the boss musicks are epic.

So basically, this is a game you'd want to buy, huh? Well, you better get your treasure hunting gear out, because it's not as if this game is all over the place or anything. It's actually quite rare. I've never found a copy aside from one I used to rent heaps, though I bet you have more luck finding it. Sweetness!

Gameplay: 4
Although it gets repetitive and the weapons actually break (which makes you have to stock up on items more often than you need to), the hack n slash and town rebuilding elements are executed very well and all make up for the shortcomings.

Control: 5
Tight and easy to learn, and it all works well too.

Story: 5
Some fat monster destroys the world and its up to this kid who gets blessed with some gem that can rebuild entire civilizations, provided he finds them in spheres in dungeons. Simple enough, but the twists at the end were what really won me over.

Graphics: 3.5
Some dull color schemes here and there, but the models were designed well enough for 2000.

Sound: 5
The grunts sound alright and the lack of voice acting might've been a blessing, but holy crap, the soundtrack is just orgasmic! You'll be humming these tunes all day!

Lifespan: 3.5
The game takes a decent amount of time to finish, plus there's also the matter of getting the super special items from the townspeople if you make the town like everybody wants it to be like, plus there's a huge dungeon at the end.

Funfactor: 3
Aside from your weapons coming close to breaking often which just adds to tedium and the fact that the hack n slash gameplay does get repetitive and dry after a bit for a while, the game is fun to play.

Bottom line:
If you like dungeon crawling games, you'll get into this no problem. If you liked Actraiser, you'll eat this like tastycakes. If you don't care, just buy it already!


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