Note: Originally posted April 15, 2002
So what do a sarcastic gargoyle with a bad sense of humor, a handsome flirt who disappears every time there's trouble and the obligatory wise-old-knows-everything-cross-between-a-turtle-and-a-frog have in common? No, it's not bad breath. Sorry, it's not their talent manager either. All three are helping a warrior-hero-adventure-goddess…who can't swim.
Yes it's been called the "Skittles Game." Elite gamers have snorted and looked down their noses at such rubbish. To think an action-adventure game based on candy is so unprofessional! Who cares? The game is a downright blast. This reviewer hadn't had so much fun playing an action-adventure game since Leisure Suit Larry became passé. Darkened Skye is in a class all its own.
Now don't get me wrong; there ARE issues with the game. Serious issues. Such as crashing repeatedly, graphic screw ups and quick saving right as you are about to die so you have to start the level over and over and over… okay, the last one was my fault. The first two were not. It became extremely irritating to go into a battle only to watch the screen minimize to my shortcut bar. It almost seems that the sneaky little monsters know when it is about to happen, too, because by the time you quick click on it to maximize again, it's just in time to watch our dear heroine die.
And the graphics? There are three places in the game where you just kind of swing Skye around until she gets out of the area. If you are lucky she will find the door. If not, then you will just wander around until you get mad enough to shut off the game and restart, only to find out it is the game, not your computer.
As far as technological requirements, the game can be touchy. There is a list of incompatible hardware as well as use-at-your-risk hardware. My recommendation is to use the recommended hardware if you have it. If not, use the default settings for the game. It crashes far less that way; however, you will have to minimize your graphics depth during boss fights. Yes, it's frustrating. In my personal opinion, the designers should have spent more time with the beta. NOTE TO DESIGNERS: Send a beta copy of your next game to me! With that being said, the rest of the game is fantastic.
The script for the game is spontaneous, lively, quick-witted and just plain fun. You never know exactly what is going to be said or how. The notes Skye leaves for herself are just as entertaining to read. Half of the pleasure in playing this game is the interaction of characters and dialogue. And if you get really mixed up in what you are supposed to be doing, the notes from Skye can be a little sarcastic. Did I say "little?" She can be downright flippant!
The battles are the other half. This game is extremely freestyle. There really is no wrong or right way to take out the bad guys. You can experiment with spells or good, old fashioned, thwacks on the head with your staff.
And then there are the glitches. But this isn't a walkthrough, you are gonna have to find the cheats yourself. Let me just say that for every fight, there are a possible hundred combinations to play around with. This does not mean, by any means, that the battles are easy, however.
The further into the game you get, the more your swearing vocabulary grows. Quick save is your best friend and your worst enemy. Try not to do what I did. It can only be humorous, say, two or three times to watch your character step off a cliff and die because you hit quick save instead of reload. Of course my roommate found it infinitely more so than I did.
The logic puzzles are not always as they seem. Throw what you know about puzzles out the window. Take each puzzle on its own and look for the clues. I won't ruin the game here by explaining further, but I will say they are amusing once you figure out what the deal is, much as a tired old pun said in a pub can leave you in stitches.
Of course, the developers want to give the gamers optimal experience; hence several of the puzzles must be solved on the run. Also, just because a bad dude couldn't do something earlier in the game doesn't necessarily mean he or she doesn't change the rules. The player really can't get too comfortable with "it worked before."
While the game is extremely challenging, the developers have covered all bases. While each level has a finite amount of health to find, you can add more to your hurting heroine by killing bad guys or finding a good hole to hide in while it replenishes. Of course, as Skye will mention, it works better if you don't get hit.
I will say it was challenging to play Darkened Skye without area maps. But, after fiddling around with the game, I realized I had become a lazy gamer. I had to rely on my razor-sharp directional instincts, my internal click-to-enlarge compass, and my unfailing photographic memory…okay, I got lost. A lot. And ended up going over the same paths again and again. A map would have been nice, guys. Not necessarily a requirement, but landscaping for us directionally-challenged reviewers would have been helpful. Especially once you hit the forests. Here, the free style of movement works against you, because you could truly be running around in a circle for a very, very long time.
Other than that, if it is low enough for you to jump on, climb or fly to, you can use it. Very few things in the game are unuseable, such as rips in reality. They are a definite no-no. Also, just because you got up…doesn't mean you are getting down the same way.
Darkened Skye is not made to be taken seriously. Instead, it is made to be enjoyed. Personally, I am keeping my copy of the game. Every once in awhile I get the urge to hear the sassy lass shoot off with another zinger. I may replay the whole thing again soon.
Of course, if there were a potential for another game such as this coming from the developers, I would dearly love to have a copy for reviewing. Or I just may have to send this warrior-hero-adventure-goddess who can't swim after you, staff a-swinging and skittles a-blazing.
Grade: A (For Gameplay)
Overall Grade: C+ (Due to Tech Issues)
+ Lively quick-witted and just plain fun.
+ Extremely challenging.