The Dark Spire review
"Old School" Is Not An Excuse To Shelve Rubbish
It's a computer RPG with the loyally old style like the 80s, just like Bard's Tale I or Might & Magic I. Everything is quite tidy.
Oh and this time at least Atlus didn't try to pretend this is a Wizardry-class entry.
And just in case anyone did not get that they are trying to be old school, the defensive statistic IS called AC (=armor class) and it does count downwards. Wehay! And that the best part of the game.
The problem is, "old and tidy" is all that the game is.
The whole game is full of 20+ year old elements and nothing else.
There's no multi-player.
There's no stylus support.
For some reason, most dungeon levels are made out of 2 colors. Which 2 colors depends on the level. The rest of the graphics uses a few more colors. This may remind some players of the good old times when they played their games on black and white or 4-color or 16-color monitors. But for the rest, this is just "What!?"
First of all, if you're not looking for an old school RPG, you're 100% certainly in the wrong place - 3D graphics, cute monsters, free-scrolling camera, monster capturing, complex career paths, item chemistry, highly collectible treasures, multi-player versus mode, new game+ mode etc, etc. This game has, well, none of those. This is the opposite corner of the room, the other end of the pool.
So what is it? It's a first-person perspective dungeon crawler (=an RPG that focuses or confines to a small number of dungeons, and in this case, the number is 1). Square-grid (= you turn 90 degree every turn, and you move forward 1 square at a time, your map will fit on a square paper.) If you feel I spend most of the time talking about what this game has not instead of what it has, it's because it really hasn't got much to be talked about.
For an RPG this is a party of 4,
with 4 basic classes to choose from and the 6 advanced classes are just the combination of the basic classes.
There are just 2 schools of magic.
Graphics are static.
Just for example, Bard's Tale I (1985) offers
- a party of 6 PLUS 1 slot of a summoned minion,
- 4 schools of magic, plus Bard songs,
- a much larger (though not necessarily richer, in this case) pool of classes and races.
- animations (it's not a requirement for an old school RPG, but just emphasising the overwhelming inferiority of The Dark Spire)
- and quite a few more big dungeons.
Everything here adds up to a smaller and weaker game than ones you've played OVER 20 years ago.
I'm all for "old school"; but it still has to be a new *game*. I would have loved an old school game with some IMPROVEMENTS, NEW ELEMENTS and NEW CHALLENGES. This game contains none.
If you really like this game, it is because you have actually NOT played the old school RPGs, or that they were too hard for you 20 years ago. It's very hard to find a computer RPG from the 80s that offers less than The Dark Spire.
If you forget trying to compare it with Bard's Tale one from over 20 years ago, the game is somewhat interesting itself and not 100% rubbish.
If you try to compare it to something like Wizardry VII (1992), then The Dark Spire is a waste of time and money in its purest form, except it also proves the designers lack of imagination and innovation.