Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - replay

After finishing Dishonored I got a notion to revisit an old classic: Dark Messiah of Might and Magic from way back in 2006.

"Classic" is perhaps an exaggeration because the game got mixed reviews when it came out. Some reviewers praised it's innovative physics based combat others criticised its unimaginative story and repetitive game play.

Replaying the game seven years later I can certainly see flaws. The voice acting is really dreadful at several important times and the writing in general is poor. The two main female characters in particular are awful. They are supposed to be sexy I think but are really just embarrassing. 

Despite this I did enjoy replaying the game to the end and the combat is innovative and fun. It reminded me a lot of Dark Souls (high praise) where blocking and timing are everything. Sadly there is an overall lack of balance in the game which overshadows a lot of the combat. It is generally easier to kill an opponent by kicking them into an environmental hazard than by actually winning a contest of blades. Playing on the middle difficulty setting (called "Hard") I was hugely disappointed in how little damage my weapons put out at the beginning of the game. It took a dozen or more blows from me to fell the humblest opponent while they could kill me in one or two. No wonder then that kicking enemies off cliffs or into the bizarrely common spiky grates were the most common ways of killing them. It wasn't until the end of the game that I got my hands on decent weapons and skills and could finally win fights without the aid of the environment. In hindsight I should probably have chosen the lowest difficult setting (called "normal") but sadly I was well into the game when I realised this and there is no option to change difficulty mid game.

The game has a choice of skills that will suit melee and ranged, magic and stealth users. Happily you get more than enough skill points to explore several paths. I invested heavily in melee and archery with points left over for some handy magic skills like Healing and Sanctuary.  To be honest I doubt you will get through the game without some melee ability because mana recharges very slowly so even mages are going to have to duke it out (with their boots) often enough.

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