Developer(s) – Kisareth Studios
ESRB – T for Teen
Released some time ago, Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode I: Tides of Fate is a game that I’d wanted to get my hands on for some time. After contacting the vice-president of Kisareth Studios, CEO Tanya Botelho sent me a copy of the game, and I’ve been thoroughly impressed by it.
Graphics – 8.5/10
Chronicles of a Dark Lord contains a fantastically designed and atmospheric in-game world with a stellar soundtrack to accompany it. I was told that the developers at Kisareth take pride especially in how the design of the world and elements of it pan out, and to me, their dedication certainly shows. Another thing I especially like about this game is that, unlike many games that it draws inspiration from, it has a very unique enemy roster, ranging from creatures like Bane Flowers and flying scorpions named the Scorlanis. But the best thing about the game’s visuals that I can point out is that it relies heavily on hand-drawn graphics; a technique which has been incorporated into some of the best games of all time, such as Final Fantasies VII, VIII and IX, and Grim Fandango. Because of this, the battle sequences in the game speak of attention to detail.
Gameplay – 9/10
As a traditional turn-based RPG, this game is extremely addictive, as well as being very satisfying to progress through. I’ve always gotten enjoyment out of playing these kinds of games to witness how character strength and ability develop over time, and Chronicles of a Dark Lord is no different. Learnable skills and magic to accumulate as the game progresses, it’s immensely fulfilling just to play through the main story; let alone the very decent amount of side quests to accompany it. Another thing that I like about how this game plays out is that although there is a huge emphasis on story, none of that hinders on how enjoyable it is to play, which is not only a problem I’ve experienced with many other games I’ve reviewed this year but in other recent turn-based RPGs to an extent, such as Child of Light.
Controls – 10/10
Chronicles of a Dark Lord incorporates as simple a control scheme as can be found in a video game, and as such, I’m happy to report that there are no unnecessary complications with playing the game to address. A lot of turn-based RPGs over the years have tried to modify this formula with varying degrees of success, but it’s been refreshing to experience a title taking it back to basics and encompassing no frustrations.
Lifespan – 6.5/10
The game can make for roughly 20 to 25 hours of gameplay, which though is somewhat short compared to many other games of the kind that have come and gone, isn’t unforgivable. As I said, there is a decent amount of side quests to add to the game’s longevity, and I don’t think it would leave players wanting more on the same scale as I think South Park: The Stick of Truth would have inevitably done for many people who played it.
Storyline – 8/10
The story of the game follows the dark lord Magus Lee, leader of the Kisareth Empire, who embarks on a quest with various different allies to thwart the advancement of a much greater evil. Though my own synopsis may sound fairly basic, the game’s story overall is anything but that. Right from the start, there are twists and turns, which keep it engrossing as well as intense throughout. How Magus’ character develops over time also makes it an especially memorable experience, but I don’t wish to give away any more than that since it is most definitely worth gamers finding out for themselves.
Originality – 8/10
Though this game is by no means not without its influences, many ideas and inspirations from many different sources have been brought together by Kisareth to form something very special and unique. I think if Kisareth plans to develop this series past the forthcoming second game in the series, it could make for an extremely exciting franchise. The game offers an experience that many mainstream developers these days sadly seem very reluctant to deliver. It’s hard to be able to make a turn-based RPG stand out among most other games of its genre, but Kisareth has done an extremely good job of achieving that.
Overall, Chronicles of a Dark Lord Episode I: Tides of Fate is an exceptional game that is certainly worthy of a lot more attention. Though it has built up a cult following over the last few years, putting the game on Steam would help to bring it to a much wider audience, and I’m hoping that’s where factors like this review come in.