Throne of Darkness review

Who I am
Alejandra Rangel
@alejandrarangel
Author and references

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Mom, can you tell me a legend?

The ancient oriental legend tells of a fair and just Shogun Kira Tsunayoshi who ruled for years dispensing equality, freedom and brotherhood on his shogunate and on the four neighboring Daimyos, until, seized by a fulminating acidity of stomach, he began to practice corrupt and perverse to the point of becoming, at the height of depravity (and stomach acid), the demon Zanshin, the Dark Lord! Obviously the four neighboring Daimyos did not agree very much on this arbitrary change and also resentful of the fact that Zanshin began to recruit legions of demons to destroy them, they called back their seven best samurai to put an end to this annoyance and of course restore equality. , freedom and brotherhood. The player will be asked to choose which of the four clans to lead to victory by determining the deeds of the samurai.


Uhmm… Ninja or Berseker?

Chosen the clan we find ourselves in the room of our Daimyo with three samurai, our first task will be to clean up our castle from the undead scum and find the other four samurai who are already fighting in the meantime. The game graphics are certainly not of particular impact, set at a fixed resolution of 800x600 (let's remember, however, that with Diablo II we had to wait for the expansion to be able to have it), it appears very clean and tidy, perhaps too clean and tidy! The graphic effects are normal, the animations of the characters very valuable while the effects of the deaths of the enemies are superb (and ours too for that matter!). The game plan is very simple: if you see something you hit, if it doesn't fall it's probably a wall! However, there is a central peculiarity of the game that makes it very innovative in its own way compared to direct competition: party management. Each of the seven samurai has a different role, you will be the captain, guardian, ninja, archer, berserker, swordsman and magician. Each character will be differentiated by different values ​​in the five basic characteristics: strength, dexterity, vitality, KI (magical strength) and charisma. The first determines the power of the blow, the dexterity your armor class, the vitality our hit points, the KI our mana points and the charisma our success in duping the blacksmith and the priest. The berserker will therefore have very high strength and low dexterity, unlike the ninja. In the game world we will have the opportunity to impersonate one of the seven heroes and take with us three others that will be completely managed by artificial intelligence, a bit like what happens in Darkstone when you choose to play with two characters. We could at any time cycle between them using the space bar and, as a gem on the cake, decide on battle tactics. As the best Championship Manager we could choose between numerous proposed tactics or create our own by choosing where to place our heroes, which weapon or magic to use, which attitude (offensive or defensive) to use. The tactics really work and are very functional, find the one you like and provide your friends with a ton of healing potions you can forget about them and their behavior conscious that they will do whatever you have indicated without getting killed.



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A stroll to zombie-infested Mount Fuji!

The game map in which you will move is another point of particularity, it is circular, imagine the four castles of the Daimyo opposite to a circle in the center of which there will be the castle of the cruel demon Zanshin. Following the map after having cleared your castle we will find ourselves in front of the crossroads being able to go from the Daimyo to the right or left, whatever road your Daimyo chooses for you at the end of the story, before attacking the central castle you will then find yourself at the starting point! A feature that I particularly appreciated is the golden line that is drawn in the automapping window, it serves to show us the main road between two contiguous castles, while the blue line indicates the path towards the various sides of the central castle. This does not mean that you cannot make tasty detours to abandoned villages and haunted dungeons where you can complete the secondary quests assigned and find others. During our wanderings, automapping will always trace our path, marking the edges of the game world with heavy red lines and accessing the dungeons as blue portals. Unfortunately, the automapping, despite the optimal path, has some obvious gaps, the biggest is the impossibility of being able to move it at will, it remains fixed on our characters and sometimes gets lost precisely because the map always displays only the limited area around us. This should be corrected by a patch coming out soon, at least according to a press bulletin issued by Click.



Quest, always quest, the life of the addicted hero is hard!

The quests can be of two types: group and individual quests. The group quests are the requests of our Daimyo which apart from a couple of cases are never mandatory, the individual quests are sporadic encounters with ghosts, people or places that concern only one of the seven samurai who will be invested with a particular mission concerning him alone. Too bad that the game, not having a particularly obligatory path, allows for a certain dispersion: I didn't find the place to complete a quest and once I solved a mission without anyone entrusting it to me! Simply the word "DONE" appeared in the mission menu and I asked myself: "done what, what, where, how!"

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I give you a beautiful katana and what do you give me?

A further peculiarity of TOD is the management of the sale of weapons and potions and the implementation of the "home base". In games like Diablo II or Darkstone we have been used to having one or more safe citadels where we can calmly heal ourselves, buy and sell items, identify objects found during the adventure and chat with someone. In TOD there is none of this: at any moment of our adventure we could teleport, thanks to the psycho-kinetic powers of our Daimyo, one or more of our heroes from the Daimyo's room to the battlefield and vice versa, provided that at least one remains in the field. This modifies our style of play a little, we could adopt turn-over strategies among our battered heroes by replacing them with other fresh characters, confident that by staying from the Daimyo they will heal themselves. Or decide not to disperse the experience points among all seven members of the group and always play with them, so even if they die our Daimyo can resurrect them. Of course, the power of the Daimyo is not infinite, but he too is limited by his personal supply of KI which, however, recharges very quickly and at full capacity allows you to teleport four characters and resurrect two. The Daimyo is not alone in having these unique psychic powers, the blacksmith and the monk also possess them in abundance. At any moment of the game we could dialogue with the blacksmith and the monk as we do with the Daimyo and using their psycho-kinetic powers to carry potions, weapons and armor from us to them and vice versa. The blacksmith takes care of everything related to our weapons and armor, sells them, repairs them, specializes them but does not buy them! During our wanderings we will find a large amount of objects that would usually be collected to raise some money, in TOD instead we could only donate them to the blacksmith to allow him to study them and create more and more powerful weapons and armor, which however do not dream of giving us to turn. Even the specialization or enchanting function of a weapon or armor is paid and allows you to set a whole series of diamonds, dragon claws, horns and various bones on the object. Each of these elements brings a particular characteristic to the object: fire damage 1-2, +10 to dexterity, + 20% resistance to lightning and so on. Too bad you can't know in advance what a particular element adds to your object, making the process a sort of perennial experiment that prevents you from creating the object that suits your wishes until after countless attempts. The monk, on the other hand, deals with selling us health potions, identifying objects, purifying them and getting gifts enchanted with the elements in exchange for magic points that will be added to those that are given to us at each level change. The unique thing is that the blacksmith and the monk take time to perform any action, for example enchanting a bow the blacksmith can take up to 3 minutes of real play!



Ball of fire or ice? This is the dilemma!

The final aspect of TOD to analyze is the use of magic. It is managed in the usual way through the use of magic points, the amount of which depends on the character's KI. Magic is divided into four major categories: Water, Earth, Fire, Air. Each of them provides a mix of attack and defense spells quite similar to each other such as the missile of fire, ice or lightning as well as the increase in resistance to the specific category to which it belongs. Everything is managed through a tree of spells extremely similar to what was seen in Diablo II, with the assignment of points to increase the effect of individual spells. During the game only one spell per character can be active and while it will be easy to cycle between different spells with your character, those of our wingmen are blocked to the one previously assigned as the artificial intelligence of our companions does not provide for an optimal and autonomous use of the own acquired spells.

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In conclusion….

Let's face it, I personally didn't like TOD that much as I have to admit that games like Nox, Darkstone or Diablo II itself are superior to them. The first great lack of TOD is intrinsic in its plot, remaining confined to a portion of the world limited by four realms the landscape of the game never changes, we will not find ourselves among the deserts, glaciers or equatorial forests as in Diablo II, but always and only in a limited portion of what is assumed to be Japan in the Middle Ages. The second flaw is the excessive boredom of some operations such as the piece-by-piece repair of weapons and armor, the intricacy of the passage system of the weapons and armor found at the blacksmith, the chronic slowness of the latter and of the monk to perform any operation. The third is the impossibility of viewing the map at will which, remaining fixed on our heroes, obliges us to frequent and boring wanderings to find that road or that portal we were looking for. The most important advantage is the absence of monster respawn, which I hated most in Diablo II. I only recommend it to anyone who has played boredom in Diablo II, Nox, and Darkstone and misses the cheery light-hearted slaughter devoid of elaborate strategies.

VOTES:

- Presentation: 8
A nice full-bodied and exhaustive manual, a nice big and thick box, not those dvD-like crap, a nice presentation in Cell-Shading like and the complete localization in Spanish.
- Graphics: 7
The monotony of the landscape does not allow for much variation, but in any case what is there is more than dignified even if excessively "clean" to make it unrealistic. The effects of the spells are normal, while the animation of the deaths are superb.
- Sound: 7
Delicate oriental and not very invasive music make the massacre pleasant. Sound effects are normal, often already heard in Diablo.
- Interface: 5
Here, more could and should have been done to speed up the most tedious operations such as the repair and passage of objects. Sometimes it is not possible to accurately aim the enemy.
- Playability: 6
The game mechanics are simple and immediate: kill everything and everyone, it is a pity that the game action is continually fragmented by more than boring operations.
Final verdict: 65/100
In itself it is not a bad game if it did not have tougher and certainly better competitors behind it

Gabriel "Aarnak" From the River

They are seven Samurai, to defend the earth….

And yes, it cannot be said that Japanese culture, history and civilization have not been able to arouse a particular attraction on me. As a great admirer of everything made in Japan, I drive a Japanese car, devour Anime and Manga, swallow historical and sociological essays on Japan and do not disdain some juicy excursus in the JRPG. So the idea of ​​leading seven samurai in their fight to defeat the bad guy immediately tickled me, so let's find out if my curiosity has been fully satisfied! Throne of Darkness (TOD from here on) is the first born of an unrecognized software house with the most original name on earth: Click Entertainment. Although unknown it was founded by two ex-members of the most famous Blizzard, legend has it that our two developers, after helping to create Diablo, did not agree on the guidelines of the future Diablo II project and decided to show to the whole world as Action-RPGs were designed. The first merit to their courage can be attributed to them on the indisputable originality of the setting chosen for the game: feudal Japan. In short, enough with this "medieval-fantasy-AD & D like" but rather a dip between the films of Kurosawa and the manga of Berseker.

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