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DARK LAW / Ascii / SNES
Dark Law is the SNES follow-up to NES Dark Lord, and has the same basic formula, but makes a number of tweaks for the better. It still turns out to be a fairly problematic game, however.
So you create up to four characters in this one, and then choose one to be your primary. This character regains consciousness outside of some mysterious old temple, and can't remember who they are or what they were doing there. A kindly old man who lives nearby takes you in, and just as you are getting settled in and giving the ol' eye to his teenage daughter, some dark knight type assholes come along and torch the place. So you wander over to the nearby town to become a freebootin' mercenary type to earn your keep, while also looking for the shapely daughter who disappeared in the confusion.
As with Dark Lord, the game is a series of stand-alone scenarios. Sometimes the plot of one intertwines with another, but usually they are all self-contained as far as gameplay. Everything centers on one town, around which you have to hunt and peck constantly to figure out who is going to give you the next quest. It seemed like the quests in this one were more linear than in Dark Lord, there was a certain fixed progression you had to do them in. Of course, you can refuse or abandon any quest, but I think doing that a bunch of times leads to Sad End.
OK, I get the hint, I won't touch your daughter. Damn.
The combat is in the same Shining Force style of Dark Lord, but moves at a smoother and faster clip this time out. It's still pretty slow, boring and repetitive unfortunately.
Instead of the combat being the main flaw, this particular game instead dies a death of a thousand cuts by having too many little annoying kinks and not good enough plot or gameplay to compensate for them. There's really no way to earn money except by completing scenarios, so if you misspend on equipment, you're basically screwed and might have to start over. Also, the three characters you create at the beginning aside from your main are just sort of chilling at the town pub all unannounced, you can end up doing two or three quests before realizing that these guys are here waiting to be recruited (the game doesn't tell you they are there and the plot makes absolutely no use or mention of them ever). There's some cool hidden stuff in the quests, but if you miss it and complete the quest, you usually can't ever return to that area again. All this makes the game feel too confining and anal.
The graphics are OK, by SNES standards, but there is nothing phenomenal on display here. The music unfortunately ranges from odd to bad - a mishmosh of crappy synth metal, light Japanese pop and the occasional medieval European influence randomly thrown in there.
The only thing that really keeps this one afloat is that the plot is mildly interesting and the overall gameplay is not terrible. I found the game to be too slow, finicky and unforgiving to really get into, however.
Aeon Genesis translation patch
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