Dark Messiah of Might and Magic: Elements

Pros & Cons:
Pertaining to My short list below.

Full Pros & cons re-review coming soon...

This game is a mixed bag. But, I'll start with the good: This uses a modified version of the source engine (Half-Life 2 is powered by this), and overall, it looks pretty good, with a relatively smooth framerate and some pretty environments; while the story is basic fantasy fare, there are some interesting twists throughout, the combat system is pretty deep and satisfying; and it's a decent length (at about 10-15 hours). Later on, you receive the rope bow, which is used to traverse the game's platforming portions (by shooting it at any wood structure, it produces a rope). And overall this element works quite well (and it's fun). There's also three areas that allow you to smithy your own sword, where you have to go through the motions and follow a few clever steps. It gets easier after the first time, but it's still just plain cool. The environments are interactive, and it's satisfying to cut a rope or a support beam and see the enemy fall prey to these traps. And although it's linear, you can play through again as a different class and experience a completely different set of weapons, armor and skills.

Now to the bad: Although the graphics are good, the textures are moderately low-res, and the overall look of the game is somewhat bland. The story's script is contrived, and the dialog and voice acting is some of the worst I've heard in a long time. And although the combat system is fun the first twenty times, after twenty-one...it's just repetitive. The level up system is entirely linear, and it gives no choice whatsoever on how to customize your character. This plays into the item system; instead of them assigning specific armor and weapons for each class, they put them all in the same place for all classes. Meaning, if you're, let's say a mage, you can still collect a bow, but it just sits in your "collection" without you being able to actually use it. Last of all, there's a glitch that takes place in the beginning of a later level—in my experience, Leanna got stuck shooting magic at thin air (even after killing all the enemies), which caused her to not follow me to a gate, and in turn, resulted in me having to start the level over. Fortunately I remembered to save before this bug—if I hadn't, I would've had to start the entire game over!

Closing comment:
So overall, this game is pretty much Oblivion "light"; although it has a deeper combat system, that's really all it has going for it. And unlike Oblivion, this is extremely short (in comparison); entirely linear and level based (instead of open-world); and although you're led to think otherwise, there's absolutely no customization at all. If you want a deeper (and much better) action/RPG experience, get Oblivion.

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© 2008-2010 jorimslist.com. All Rights Reserved. No part of this work, reviews or custom images, may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, except as may be expressly permitted by the 1976 Copyright Act or in writing from the author, pertaining to the entire site, jorimslist.com. Requests for permission should be addressed in writing to Lindenville Publishing via the About page. The ESRB rating icons are registered trademarks of the Entertainment Software Association. All the original images are copyrighted by their respective owners.

Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating.

Content sum up: This has a very violent, brutal combat system consisting of beheading your enemies with a variety of weapons and shoving them into walls of spikes; gratuitous blood/gore throughout; your spirited companion, Xana, is oversexed and breifly appears nude in a couple of scenes; the narrative has an occult (albeit fantasy) overtone, with plenty of gross and bizarre enemies; the main character has questionable origins; and you can choose to be evil in the end. So, I recommend this game for ages 17+.

Full content re-review coming soon...

Blood and gore: The blood spurts in large droplets and moderate amounts when you shoot or hit an enemy. Blood does lingers in puddles, splatters on walls/floors, stains enemy clothing, and your weapon. Dispatched bodies do linger, and you will see many dead, bloodied, (some hanged) human and monster bodies scattered throughout. You can lop off enemies' heads with certain attacks—moderate amounts of blood spurting from their necks inluded; when they're down you can impale them with your weapon; you can kick enemies into walls of spikes (skewering them), resulting in heavy blood splatter; and undead have a grotesque appearance, with rotting flesh and muscle and skeletal system visible. There is no option to turn blood off.

Specific scenes of blood & gore:

  • The introduction (CG) shows a large character garbed in full body armor, who then throws a bloodied skull into a deep well, revealing his freshly cut hand.
  • After you heavily injure a giant cyclops with a mounted ballista, an allies shoves his sword in its eye, causing a heavy amount blood to spilling from its wound.
  • You see a ghoul stab an injured, bloodied man (with blood smeared on the floor around his body) in the throat with its claws, causing moderate blood splatter.
  • While trying to infiltrate a ruined temple, the main male, female and a side character see a giant enemy dragon in the sky. The dragon then swoops down and kills the side character with its claws, resulting in moderate blood splatter.
  • In one area you see a severed pig's head lying on a table—in moderate detail.
  • Sareth (protagonist) has a vision; he sees a woman impaled by a large spike.
  • In a later area you see a large, bloodied (undetailed) pile of dead goblin bodies.
  • One area shows ghouls (who look and were once human) hanging on a dungeon wall. Their hands are pinned above their heads, and they're missing the entirety of their lower body (navel down), with entrails hanging to the floor and their blood heavily staining the walls—they arre still conscious, and weakly wriggling.
  • In one of the later levels you see strange, archaic decor in an enemy facility; fully wrapped mummies hanging in cages attached to the wall, and miniature mummies with spikes in their middle, their blood lightly running down the wall.
  • A readable books explains that ghouls are unwilling spirits forced into bodies of the dead by necromancers, and have an insatiable urge to feed on human flesh.
  • Later on, you come upon the enemy necromancer's lab, with blood smeared all over the walls and peppered on almost every inch of the floor. You see many dead, rotted human bodies on experimentation tables, and many more of the half bodied (and conscious) ghouls hanging on the lab walls. You can also sneak under the lab by going through the drain pipes, which are full of blood (instead of water) of the victims, and several rotting bodies.

Intense violence: One thousand years ago, a wizard, the Seventh Dragon, sacrificed his life to seal away an evil demon and bring peace to the world. In present time, a young man named Sareth has been trained by his mentor as a warrior and mage, for the purpose he has yet to know. When Sareth is sent to help his mentor's old friend and retrieve a magic skull that once belonged to the Seventh Dragon, he finds many things (and people) not quite what he thought them to be...

At the beginning you can pick between four classes (this is a pseudo-RPG), with your choices being the Warrior, who's specialty is the sword; the Archer, who's best with bow & arrow; the Mage, who deals in magic such as lightning, fire, telekinesis, etc.; and the Assassin, armed with dual daggers, and the only one who can commit sneak kills on the enemy. And the base gameplay consists of exploring levels and using your weapons and/or magic to fight through the waves of enemies, while you solve minor puzzles, scale high places with your rope bow, collect hidden items, jump from platform to platform, and defeat the occasional boss.

You'll encounter a variety of enemies; fully armored humans, necromancers, ghouls, goblins, orcs, giant spiders, cyclopes, dragons, zombies, floating cyclops octopus; and later in, newly transformed zombies (who look fully human); depending on what class you choose, you'll be fighting them with staves, bow & arrow, swords, dual daggers and magic. The combat system is moderately brutal and violent, with you being able to kick enemies into walls of spikes, crush them with heavy objects (like chandeliers, etc.), and push them off high places. If you're equipped with a sword you can charge your attacker, and plunge it into the enemy's chest, or sweep it across their neck (often) beheading them. If you're a Mage, you can set enemies ablaze, causing them to scream in a haunting tone as they burn alive, or shock them with lighting and cause a similar reaction. If you're an Assassin, you can sneak in on unsuspecting enemies and stick your dagger into their necks, or at long range, you can throw your daggers for the same effect. After wearing an enemy down enough, they'll try to slowly limp off and scream for help, only for you to finish them off.

Last of all, the game has a strict policy on killing your allies, and if you hit Leanna, civilians or allied soldiers, it will immediately start you from your last save. The story has an occult (albeit fantasy) overtone; mutilated human bodies being reanimated by necromancers, strange and macabre decor, bloodthirsty and bizarre enemies, and a main character who is possessed by a demon. And a little more than halfway through, you find out that Sareth is the game's namesake, Dark Messiah (the main villain's son) brought about to free his demon father and rule the world. You'll then gain the option to go into your demon form and feed on enemies' energy. This introduces a few moral choices later in. The small choices consist of whether to kill or leave innocent workers be in the necromancers' lair; fight the leader of the orcs fairly by using only melee weapons, or cheating and using magic—the rest are listed below.

Moral choice:

  • At the end of the necromancers' lair, you have the choice to either save Leanna, who's been captured by the necromancers in order to be a sacrifice to a giant spider, or you can choose to let her die. If you save her, Xana (a demon woman who inhabits your body and acts as your guide) will be furious (oh...too bad), and Leanna will offer to put in a good word for you at a church so you can later purge yourself of Xana—or you can let Leanna die and make Xana quite happy.
  • Once you're in the level that contains a church, you can go and exorcise Xana from your body, or let her stay. If you purge her, you'll receive a holy weapon.
  • On the last level you can remove a tormented body from its prison, letting it rest in peace, or you can let it be. If you free him, he'll put in a good word with his father. This results in one boss (blocking the way to the final boss) helping you with the three other bosses instead. Otherwise you'll have to fight all four.
  • After defeating the last boss, you can take the skull of power for yourself and seal away your evil father for good—or you can give the skull to him, let him rule forever and doom the world.

Specific scenes of intense violence:

  • Throughout the game, you see the enemy killing several innocent civilians.
  • While trying to retrieve a magic crystal from the main villain, you free villagers from their cells to create a distraction, causing the guards, in frustration, to kill them all. The main character stabs the main female character in the stomach (no blood or gore), but wakes up and finds out it had only been a vision/dream.
  • The main villain lifts Leanna in the air with telekinesis and slams her against a wall, supposedly killing her.

Partial nudity: Sareth has a vision where Xana appears nude and on all fours before possessing his body. However, although she is in the female form, she isn't human; there aren't any secondary details, the shot is extremely brief and her chest is mostly covered by her long hair. Later, Sareth has a second vision of Xana, and this time you see a full-frontal view of her for about 30 seconds, with both her breasts (no nipples) and "groin" (no genitales, just skin) visible.

Suggestive themes: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating) This category is made up almost entirely of your female companion Xana, who has the need to say everything in a sexual, sensuous and seductive tone.

  • The two main female characters, Leanna and Xana, are both very busty, and the few times you see Xana dressed she appears in a cleavage revealing dress.
  • When you come upon your targets house, it Xana prompts to state, "You know what they say about the size of a man's front gate. That must be his house."
  • After you walk into a tavern, a waitress asks if she can help you with anything, causing Xana to suggestively say, "They seem to sell more than just 'ale' here."
  • Early in, when you discover a secret tower with a small bedroom, Xana notices and states, "This is a nice quiet place. Oh, too bad we have other things to do!"
  • After having a disturbing and questionable vision about Xana, Sareth asks her about it. She then states, "I'm a friend, an ally. And I could even be...more."
  • While fighting some enemies and putting yourself in harm's way, Xana says, "Be careful with this body, Sareth. I've got uses in for it in mind, you know?"
  • After you save Leanna, she thanks you and gets back to work, prompting Xana to say, "You know, if it'd been me, I would have thanked you...properly."
  • After the main character gains a boost in his powers, Xana states, "Oh, can you feel me in your blood like fire?! Oh yes my prince, we'll be together forever!"
  • After escaping the enemy and retriving his equipment, Sareth says, "I felt naked without this!" Xana replies, "There's nothing wrong with feeling naked, Dear."
  • While fighting a certain enemy, Xana says, "Mindless vermin! All they do is eat! But there are better ways to have fun...aren't there?"

Mild language: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating, although it's mild.) There are three or under uses of bastard, d*mn and b*tch in the main script. Other than the main script, there is one use of "damned" in one of the game's—optional—readable letters, and one—in context—use of "damned" in load screen text, which explains the current mission. There is no option to turn language off.

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© 2008-2010 jorimslist.com. All Rights Reserved. No part of this work, reviews or custom images, may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, except as may be expressly permitted by the 1976 Copyright Act or in writing from the author, pertaining to the entire site, jorimslist.com. Requests for permission should be addressed in writing to Lindenville Publishing via the About page. The ESRB rating icons are registered trademarks of the Entertainment Software Association. All the original images are copyrighted by their respective owners.