Heart Of Darkness

a game by Interplay Entertainment Corp.

Platforms: PlaystationPSXGBAPC

Genre: Action

Overview

Are you scared of the dark? Well, Andy sure is. There is nothing in the world that could get him to travel into the terrifying world of darkness. Actually, there is one thing. It turns out that the Master of Darkness has kidnapped Andy's dog, Whiskey, and he is forced to face his every fear in the Land of Darkness. Things may even turn out to be scarier than Andy could have ever imagined.

Heart of Darkness is a fairly original game that has you leading Andy through the World of Darkness, trying to rescue his dog Whiskey. You will run, jump, climb, swing and blast your way through eight different worlds. Solving puzzles and avoiding traps will also keep your brain working while the incredible graphics will keep your eyes satisfied. Throw in some of the most breathtaking music in any video game ever, and what you have is a game that will be fun for the whole family.

Gameplay

Heart of Darkness has been in the works for quite some time now. I remember hearing bits and pieces of information on this game as far as two years back. Sometimes long development times are a good thing, and other times they are not such a good thing. As soon as you pop in the CD and watch the intro, it will become abundantly clear why it took this game two years to make and two CDs to fit.

I normally don't give game intros much space unless they really grab my attention. Let's face it, most PSX intros are pretty awesome. It seemed like the different developers have a little contest going to see who can come up with the best looking intro, which makes the whole thing convoluted. I will usually watch the first part of the intro, and if it looks like the same old stuff I will skip past it. The first thing I noticed about the intro of this game was that it was almost like the beginning of a movie. The credits were coming up and the music was awesome. Then the intro actually started. Wow! This was one of the best intros I have ever watched. The best way I can describe it is to compare it to the movie Toy Story. If you have ever seen that movie, you will know what I am talking about. Just take my word for it; the intro is well worth watching.

The intro does a good job of setting up the scene and situation. I will not go through all of this, but I will pick up where you actually take control of the character. You play as a little boy named Andy. You crash-land your ship somewhere in the World of Darkness. You are armed with your ray gun and a desire to find your dog. You jump out of your crash-landed ship and venture out into a vast world of beasts and scary things.

The gameplay is best classified as a platform game, yet it is not really a platform game, due to the way the game screens are presented. Platform games usually scroll the screens in real time. This game uses a fixed screen and when you move to the next screen, it redraws the whole screen. The best comparison would be Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee. Basically, what it amounts to is that you have some very lush and beautifully created backgrounds because they load all at once instead of streaming off the CD during the gameplay. This worked out pretty well, and the load time between screens was tolerable. There was a definite load time when you switched screens, but it was worth the wait thanks to the graphics.

The game does not keep score and you do not collect things throughout your adventure. You basically have one goal, rescuing your dog, and you don't have time for any of the other platform game-type crap to slow you down. You also have infinite lives, so you can die over and over again and not have to worry about running out of lives. This was good, because I did have a few problems with the overall fairness of this game (see paragraph near end addressing complaints).

One thing that is really different about this game is that you spend a majority of your time climbing up, down and across walls. Andy is quite proficient in climbing, and you will go through a few of the worlds that will have you doing practically nothing but climbing walls. I thought this was a great way to help distinguish Heart of Darkness from just another platform-type game and it really helped give the game a more 3D-type feel. You will also go through a world that has you swimming the majority of the time. You will have to maneuver around in the water, avoiding a ton of undersea monsters as well. I think that they did a great job of mixing things up and adding plenty of new and exciting environments for you to try and conquer.

This game is one of the best at using in-game FMV sequences as well. As you progress through the levels, you will hit certain ending points that will activate a 15-60 second FMV sequence. Some (most) games that use FMV in the past have not really done the best job in doing so. The FMV sequences in Heart of Darkness are so well-done and really add to the story, to the point that I actually looked forward to seeing the next one. They are all done in the same fashion as the intro, so that should give you a good idea of the quality of these sequences. The other thing about them is that they do not interrupt the gameplay at all. Usually FMV sequences are an annoyance that I skip as quickly as I can by pressing the buttons. There were times that I actually wished I could watch the sequences again.

I did have a few complaints with this game. Actually, my first complaint is not really a personal complaint, but I think that it may bother some people. The game is really short. Even though it spans two CDs, almost anyone will finish it in a weekend. I don't mind because I actually enjoy games that have an obtainable end. I mean, how many games have you played for weeks and finally just given up because either something new comes out or you just burn out on the game? I would have liked to see it go on a little further, but if you are one of those people who want to get months out of your gaming dollar, then you might be a little disappointed.

What I did have a complaint about was the controls. Like I mentioned above, you have unlimited lives. This is almost mandatory, due to the cheap deaths caused by the unresponsive controls. I can't count the number of times that I hit the jump button only to have little Andy hesitate before he would perform the move. This was really frustrating because I would have bad guys shooting at me up high and down low, so I would have to jump and them immediately duck or vice versa. With the lag time from when the jump button was pressed to when he actually jumped, it made this way more difficult than it should have been. Also, the game does not support analog control. Analog control is almost a given on any new game, and it was really missed in this game. I really would have enjoyed the game more using the smooth and precise control of analog.

Graphics

If I told you that this looked more like a computer animated movie than a video game, would you believe me? Well, you should, because that sums it up. I already said how good the intro and the in-game videos looked, but I have not really mentioned the in-game graphics. They were actually quite good. Since the backgrounds were all individual screens, they definitely put in a lot of effort making these look beautiful. This game uses two CDs, and it has to be because of all of the amazing graphics work. This is the reason it took over two years to make this game.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for something a little different and you want a game that you should be able to finish, Heart of Darkness is a good choice. The graphics alone make this game worthy of purchase. The gameplay is fun but frustrating at times, due to the lag time in the controls and lack of analog support. Overall, this is a game that the whole family will enjoy and it is almost better to grab a bowl of popcorn, sit back and watch the show as someone plays the game.

Heart Of Darkness Downloads

Heart Of Darkness download

Overview

Are you scared of the dark? Well, Andy sure is. There is nothing in the world that could get him to travel into the terrifying world of darkness. Actually, there is one thing. It turns out that the Master of Darkness has kidnapped Andy's dog, Whiskey, and he is forced to face his every fear in the Land of Darkness. Things may even turn out to be scarier than Andy could have ever imagined.

Heart of Darkness is a fairly original game that has you leading Andy through the World of Darkness, trying to rescue his dog Whiskey. You will run, jump, climb, swing and blast your way through eight different worlds. Solving puzzles and avoiding traps will also keep your brain working while the incredible graphics will keep your eyes satisfied. Throw in some of the most breathtaking music in any video game ever, and what you have is a game that will be fun for the whole family.

Gameplay

Heart of Darkness has been in the works for quite some time now. I remember hearing bits and pieces of information on this game as far as two years back. Sometimes long development times are a good thing, and other times they are not such a good thing. As soon as you pop in the CD and watch the intro, it will become abundantly clear why it took this game two years to make and two CDs to fit.

I normally don't give game intros much space unless they really grab my attention. Let's face it, most PSX intros are pretty awesome. It seemed like the different developers have a little contest going to see who can come up with the best looking intro, which makes the whole thing convoluted. I will usually watch the first part of the intro, and if it looks like the same old stuff I will skip past it. The first thing I noticed about the intro of this game was that it was almost like the beginning of a movie. The credits were coming up and the music was awesome. Then the intro actually started. Wow! This was one of the best intros I have ever watched. The best way I can describe it is to compare it to the movie Toy Story. If you have ever seen that movie, you will know what I am talking about. Just take my word for it; the intro is well worth watching.

The intro does a good job of setting up the scene and situation. I will not go through all of this, but I will pick up where you actually take control of the character. You play as a little boy named Andy. You crash-land your ship somewhere in the World of Darkness. You are armed with your ray gun and a desire to find your dog. You jump out of your crash-landed ship and venture out into a vast world of beasts and scary things.

The gameplay is best classified as a platform game, yet it is not really a platform game, due to the way the game screens are presented. Platform games usually scroll the screens in real time. This game uses a fixed screen and when you move to the next screen, it redraws the whole screen. The best comparison would be Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee. Basically, what it amounts to is that you have some very lush and beautifully created backgrounds because they load all at once instead of streaming off the CD during the gameplay. This worked out pretty well, and the load time between screens was tolerable. There was a definite load time when you switched screens, but it was worth the wait thanks to the graphics.

The game does not keep score and you do not collect things throughout your adventure. You basically have one goal, rescuing your dog, and you don't have time for any of the other platform game-type crap to slow you down. You also have infinite lives, so you can die over and over again and not have to worry about running out of lives. This was good, because I did have a few problems with the overall fairness of this game (see paragraph near end addressing complaints).

One thing that is really different about this game is that you spend a majority of your time climbing up, down and across walls. Andy is quite proficient in climbing, and you will go through a few of the worlds that will have you doing practically nothing but climbing walls. I thought this was a great way to help distinguish Heart of Darkness from just another platform-type game and it really helped give the game a more 3D-type feel. You will also go through a world that has you swimming the majority of the time. You will have to maneuver around in the water, avoiding a ton of undersea monsters as well. I think that they did a great job of mixing things up and adding plenty of new and exciting environments for you to try and conquer.

This game is one of the best at using in-game FMV sequences as well. As you progress through the levels, you will hit certain ending points that will activate a 15-60 second FMV sequence. Some (most) games that use FMV in the past have not really done the best job in doing so. The FMV sequences in Heart of Darkness are so well-done and really add to the story, to the point that I actually looked forward to seeing the next one. They are all done in the same fashion as the intro, so that should give you a good idea of the quality of these sequences. The other thing about them is that they do not interrupt the gameplay at all. Usually FMV sequences are an annoyance that I skip as quickly as I can by pressing the buttons. There were times that I actually wished I could watch the sequences again.

I did have a few complaints with this game. Actually, my first complaint is not really a personal complaint, but I think that it may bother some people. The game is really short. Even though it spans two CDs, almost anyone will finish it in a weekend. I don't mind because I actually enjoy games that have an obtainable end. I mean, how many games have you played for weeks and finally just given up because either something new comes out or you just burn out on the game? I would have liked to see it go on a little further, but if you are one of those people who want to get months out of your gaming dollar, then you might be a little disappointed.

What I did have a complaint about was the controls. Like I mentioned above, you have unlimited lives. This is almost mandatory, due to the cheap deaths caused by the unresponsive controls. I can't count the number of times that I hit the jump button only to have little Andy hesitate before he would perform the move. This was really frustrating because I would have bad guys shooting at me up high and down low, so I would have to jump and them immediately duck or vice versa. With the lag time from when the jump button was pressed to when he actually jumped, it made this way more difficult than it should have been. Also, the game does not support analog control. Analog control is almost a given on any new game, and it was really missed in this game. I really would have enjoyed the game more using the smooth and precise control of analog.

Graphics

If I told you that this looked more like a computer animated movie than a video game, would you believe me? Well, you should, because that sums it up. I already said how good the intro and the in-game videos looked, but I have not really mentioned the in-game graphics. They were actually quite good. Since the backgrounds were all individual screens, they definitely put in a lot of efffort making these llook beautiful. This game uses two CDs, and it has to be because of aall of the amazing graphics work. This is the reason it took over two years to make this game.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for something a little different and you want a game that you should be able to finish, Heart of Darkness is a good choice. The graphics alone make this game worthy of purchase. The gameplay is fun but frustrating at times, due to the lag time in the controls and lack of analog support. Overall, this is a game that the whole family will enjoy and it is almost better to grab a bowl of popcorn, sit back and watch the show as someone plays the game.

reggie posted a review

Overview

In a world very close to our own lives Andy, a boy like any other. His dog Whiskey adores him, and they spend as much time together as they can. When Whiskey is stolen by the Forces of Darkness during an eclipse, Andy must face his darkest fears in a secret kingdom, a world of soul-hungry phantoms, nightmare demons, manic monsters and bizarre friends. With the help of his new-found friend Amigo, he must find his way to the Heart of Darkness and confront his fear of the dark to win freedom for himself and Whiskey.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

Heart of Darkness combines beautiful cinematic scenes with platform-style sequences where you must run, jump, shoot, swim, and climb your way through eight different levels filled with mystical mazes, exotic landscapes and evil enemies to reach the Heart of Darkness and confront the power of the Master. The transitions between the cinematic story sequences and the gameplay are very smooth, giving you the feeling that you are playing your way through the story. I found this refreshing compared to many platform games, where the story is almost an afterthought.

The game is best played using a game pad -- I found it difficult to perform some of the more complex moves using the keyboard controls. Unlike the PlayStation version of the game, I found that the PC version was very responsive when using the game pad. As you move around the world, you not only have to dodge the various nasties, you have to solve lots of puzzles ranging from opening doors and lighting up dark areas to moving objects through complex mazes. Each level of the game has new challenges and requires new tactics to complete. The constantly changing gameplay keeps it from becoming boring.

A big plus is the way your lives and saving the game are handled. Your position is saved automatically after completing each puzzle area and you have an unlimited number of tries at each puzzle. I’ve always hated games where limited save points and lives in the game means you end up replaying through an area over and over, trying to get past one difficult puzzle or bad guy. Heart of Darkness even helps you get past the tough areas by providing hints after you are killed the same way a dozen or so times.

The one major complaint I have is that the game is too short. I was able to play all the way through in about 10 hours. I really wanted more game, and replaying areas I’d already beaten wasn’t as satisfying.

Graphics

The backgrounds for each level are fantastic. The detailed scenery is wonderfully drawn, and as Andy gets closer to the Heart of Darkness the creepiness of the environment increases. The cutscenes between each level blend seamlessly, weaving the storyline throughout the game. The only nitpick I had with the graphics is that the characters become somewhat pixelated during gameplay. The character animations are smooth and detailed and overall they look good, but in some cases they start getting too blocky and can be distracting.

Audio

The musical score in Heart of Darkness is beautiful. It’s a complete orchestral score performed by a full symphony, and it is perfect for the game. It ranges from light and airy tunes when Andy is playing with Whiskey or talking to Amigo to dark and haunting when he’s approaching the Master’s Keep. The sound effects are also done well. From the various footstep sounds as Andy walks on different terrains to his grunts and yells while fighting with the bad guys, the effects add nice detail touches to the game.

System Requirements

Windows 95, 486 DX2/66 or faster (Pentium 90 or faster recommended), 16 MB RAM, DirectX compatible sound and video cards, 4X CD-ROM drive

Parental Warning

At first glance, Heart of Darkness looks like a good game for kids, especially with its E (Everyone) rating. Although the game has no overt gore, there is quite a bit of violence that should make parents consider carefully before buying it for younger kids. Andy is at various times disemboweled, eaten by snakes and shadow-demons, and incinerated by fireballs -- the death animations can get a bit extreme for the squeamish or faint of heart.

Bottom Line

Heart of Darkness is a fun platform game that will give even seasoned gamers a challenge. The gorgeous graphics, fantastic musical score and rich storyline make this one a keeper in my book. I did find that the game was a little too short and left me wanting more, but overall I give it high marks.

reggie posted a review
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