|The First 100% QuickBasic Game Review Magazine
Updated November 20, 2004
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Dark Quest: Secret
of the North Lands
"Five Soldiers Battle a Dark and Terrible Destiny!"
A man with neither body nor skill, Tellin
used the Dark Teachings to amass great physical strength and magical power,
and used that power to begin a conquest that takes him to the Kingdom of
Hired by the King of Issia, you proceed into
the Northlands with the King's best men, to cut off whatever force is decimating
the nearby kingdoms before a full-scale war escalates. The journey to unlock
the secret of the Northlands begin...
use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
|A mixture of screen-by-screen
demos and well-tiled graphics, Kentauri does a fairly good job of giving
Dark Quest: Secret of the North Lands a sort of early EGA/VGA professional
PC game feel. The game's in-game menu gives you easy access to the story
of the game, but doesn't force you to know much about it. People who miss
the game's storytelling will be at a loss though, as the drawings featured
in the storyline are pretty well-done.
As for the in-game
graphics, animation and scrolling is done successfully without a flicker,
even when you try casting spells in split-screen mode while the other player
battles some enemies from the other side of the map. The tiles are well-done
but the Dark Quest universe looks a little too bland. It would have been
nice to see more than just open terrain, and a more involved mix of plant
life, towns, or other sorts of environments.
smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
||There is little
light in Dark Quest: Secret of the North Lands, but there is even less
sound in Kentauri's latest QB game. Dark Quest does not have any sound
effects or music.
precision of control and involvement of character within its universe
|Dark Quest has two
game modes, Sheepz Gallore and Quest Mode. In Sheepz Gallore, your mission
is to kill a pre-set number of sheep as quickly as possible, and try to
get the best time. This is a very straightforward game mode and is a good
way to get used to the game's controls. Sheepz Gallore also features a
two-player mode, where you and a buddy can compete to see who can beat
up the sheep in the fastest time.
In Quest Mode, you
start with four troops. It's important for your troops to survive during
the game's six levels, because they're your only protection when you're
overwhelmed by groups of enemies. However, you can't rely on troops fully
because you earn special bonuses if you kill the enemies with your blade.
These bonuses are the only way you can restock on magic or recover HP between
each level, making it critical to find a balance between hand-to-hand combat,
ranged attacks, and using your soldiers to defeat your enemy.
Besides the one-player
mode, Dark Quest also features a very well-orchestrated two-player simultaneous
Quest mode, a rarity among real-time strategy games that don't hook up
to the Internet. Players are divided via split screen; while one player
controls the hero of the game, the other controls one of the game's mercenaries.
Kentauri achieves this mode effectively, with the AI of the game adjusting
very well to who attacks them.
Unless you're a hardcore
real-time strategy game player who uses the keyboard more often than the
mouse, most of your issues with Dark Quest are probably going to involve
the game's controls. Six separate buttons alone are required to order troops
to attack, defend, or retreat as you deem necessary. In addition to that,
three buttons are needed for casting spells, and five additional buttons
are used to control the main character. While it's easy to remember exactly
what these buttons do during simpler battles, coordinating troops and button
presses against multiple enemies is a strain.
Two-player mode is
equally cumbersome. Because of the funky control scheme, the best way to
play the game effectively is to divide the controls so that one of the
players is in charge of the spells while the other player is in charge
of moving troops.
creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
|Nice job. Kentauri
unravels a thought-out story that pans out as a classic good versus evil
battle. Dark Quest's storyline doesn't disappoint, and at the same time
doesn't go deep enough to leave people thirsting for more. The pictures
that complement the game's storyline also enhance the plot.
|Replay Value (n.)
timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated
again and again
|The game's controls
can be discouraging at first, but once you develop some basic strategy,
making it through the world of Dark Quest: Secret of the North Lands can
be an enjoyable adventure that can be played more than once. The thrill
of trying to get the high score lasts for a bit, and the two-player mode
is also fun. The "Sheepz Gallore" is also a relatively nice extra but it
really doesn't add to the replay value much.
strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and
|Average. The two
main skills that have to be mastered in Dark Quest is good hand-to-hand
combat, and learning how to manage your troops. If you use your troops
abusively, it will be far too expensive to recharge them. If you rely on
yourself too much, you're going to be overwhelmed. The best way to find
balance between these two factors is to learn the different ways the AI
can be tricked (this will vary because there are different kind of enemy
units), then using that plus your fellow soldiers to trick Tellin's army
into positions where you and your men receive the least amount of damage.
|Fun Factor (n.)
overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
|Dark Quest is one
of those games that work but needs work because of it's game modes. There
is a lot of potential here for a very strong two-player mode and Kentauri
shows in this game that they have the technical skill to really execute
such a real-time strategy game beautifully.
Overall, Secret of
The North Lands is like a good horse that needs quite a bit of getting
used to. I'm not sure how to make a better control system than the one
they've provided using the keyboard, but it must be possible using the
keyboard or some other medium. This is one QB game that can be enjoyable,
but will be most enjoyable for the strategy game fans among us.
Dark Quest: Secret
of The North Lands Reviewed by Vance Velez
||To solve: 2-3 hours Final Rating:
download Dark Quest: Secret of the North Lands (258KB), click here.
you're unzipping this program in DOS, you may have to use the -d option.
play Dark Quest: Secret of the North Lands, unzip the file and run "DARKQ.EXE".
Back to Strategy
out of 35 points
Highs: Two-player split screen real-time
strategy game for QB. Yahoo!
Lows: The game's scattershot control system
could have greatly benefitted from mouse compatibility.
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