reviews\ Nov 16, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Darkened Skye - GC - Review

Originally released on the PC about a year ago, Simon & Schuster Interactive’s action-adventure title Darkened Skye is now making its appearance on the GameCube.  You play as Skye, a self-proclaimed “warrior-hero-adventurer-goddess” who is enlisted to save the world from the hands of the evil Lord Necroth.  The script for the game is very well written and the voice acting is superb.  However, the rest of the game ranges from average to downright boring.  Darkened Skye proves that while nice, terrific writing and voice acting does not a great game make. 


The story for Darkened Skye is fantasy driven.  You are Skye, a warrior who finds a strange orange object one day and decides to consult an old seer about it.  She tells you that the strange object is a Skittles, a relic that can allow its holder to cast a variety of magic spells when placed together.  Yeah, that’s right, I said Skittles.  And yes, it is the Skittles you’re thinking about.  The game is somewhat endorsed by the Skittles people and takes place in their “Taste the Rainbow” ad campaign.  You must go around to five different lands, collecting skittles and gaining power as a magician, and defeat the evil Lord Necroth, who wants all the Skittles for himself.  I know it sounds cheesy, but the script is written so well that you won’t even care about the whole Skittles thing.  The dialogue is very funny, very self aware (“Anything could be lurking in there…well, I guess I’ll stick my face in”) and very clever. 


If only the gameplay were as fun as the story, then this game would be awesome.  However, the gameplay is pretty stagnant or, at best, average.  The game doesn’t innovate the 3D platform concept in any degree, and the controls are rather floaty for the most part.  This is very frustrating, considering that too much of the game involves hopping around on platforms.  Also, the L and R buttons don’t respond unless you click them, which can get annoying.  The game’s melee combat system is pretty inane; you have no way to block attacks and simply must run around your enemy holding down the attack button.  As you perform combos and the like, enemies still continue to attack you.  The magic system is somewhat better executed, but the overall feel of the gameplay is very unpolished and dull.


The graphics are also pretty average.  The characters look very blocky, as though they are out of a Nintendo 64 game.  Also, the animations look pretty rigid and disconnected.  The environmental textures are murky and lack detail.  One plus though is the framerate, which moves pretty fluidly throughout the game.


The sound is both bad and good.  The music sounds like a muted MIDI keyboard, and the tunes are a bit redundant and can get annoying quick.  The sound effects are pretty average, featuring stock sounds, like whooshing staffs and footsteps.  However, the voice acting is marvelous.  The script is great, and the professional acting really ices the cake.  Skye is superbly voiced by Linda Larkin (the voice of Princess Jasmine on Aladdin), and the supporting cast is excellent, making for most of the enjoyment you’ll experience upon playing the game.


Darkened Skye really makes some innovations in script writing and professional acting in the field of video games.  However, the rest of the game is fairly dull and worth missing.  If you want to appreciate good writing and vocal talent in a video game, I suggest you rent Darkened Skye.  Otherwise, leave this one on the shelf.


Reviewer’s Scoring Details


Gameplay: 5.5
The gameplay is pretty dull; most of the time will be spent jumping around on platforms and fighting off inane enemies.  The combat system is very poorly executed and just not very fun.


Graphics: 6.0
The game has an overall blocky appearance, and the textures and characters lack much detail.  However, the framerate is pretty fast.


Sound: 8.0
The music and sound effects are nothing to write home about, but the voice acting is superb.  This degree of professionalism is something more games should try for.


Difficulty: Medium


Concept: 8.5
The story may seem bit cheesy on the surface, but the script is great.  The dialogue is snappy, witty and cleverly written.  Also, the game possesses a self-awareness and charm that few games have.


Overall: 6.5
Darkened Skye features some great writing and excellent voice acting.  However, the rest of the game is pretty dull.  The gameplay is boring, the graphics are plain, and the controls are loose and floaty.  However, if gameplay and graphics don’t matter to you, and you want to see a well-written story, then you should give Darkened Skye a look.

Above Average

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