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Darkstone

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Darkstone is an action role-playing game created by French developer Delphine Software International and released in 1999. Darkstone has many similarities to Diablo, particularly in the user interface.

Gameplay

The game can be played single player or multiplayer. Multiplayer games may be cooperative or competitive. Multiplayer games can be played over a LAN (using TCP/IP or IPX) or the Internet. The game includes its own server, so it is not necessary to locate a dedicated game server - any player can initiate a multiplayer session which other players can then join.

The user interface is similar to that of Diablo. (The developers of Darkstone acknowledge the earlier game as an important influence.) Characters can be moved around by simply clicking on a location. Clicking on an enemy initiates an attack. Clicking on an item picks it up. Each character has an inventory that can be opened. Items can be rearranged or removed.

A unique feature of the game is that in the single player game the player can control two characters. At any given instant, one character is directly controlled by the player. The other character will act intelligently for the most part - it will follow the other character unless ordered not to and will defend itself against enemies. The player can switch between characters with a single click.

The Lands of Uma

The game world is divided into the town (where you can trade weapons, armor, magical items and so on) and five Lands - Ardyl, Terrnya, Marghor, Omar and Serkesh. (There are actually only four Lands - Ardyl, Marghor, Omar and Serkesh. No Terrnya.) Each land contains the entrances to two dungeons, as well as other features associated with the various quests. Each of the first seven dungeons is associated with a quest and all of these have four levels. Completing a quest will result in your character recovering one of the seven crystals. The last dungeon leads to Draak's lair.

Note: In the PS1 version, which is a little different, the lands are a bit more abundant. In order from town: Ardyl; Terrnya, Marghor, Dywahd, Omar, Mothada, Baastahl, Serkesh. In the PS1 version, each land has a singular quest to accomplish, and the entry to only one dungeon that has four levels. The last world, Serkesh, has three levels plus Draak's Lair.

Dungeons contain many corridors and rooms. There are also many crates, vases and chests that can be opened or broken to reveal useful items. Wells abound, where characters can restore health or mana (see below).

Object of the Game

The evil Lord Draak, who has the power to transform himself into a dragon, has recovered from earlier defeat and returned with his minions to the world of Uma bringing death and mayhem. Players attempt to find their way to Draak's lair and slay him in combat. On their way they must locate the seven crystals and use them to recreate the time orb, without which Draak can not be defeated.

Townspeople

The town is populated by townspeople who will send you on quests, and also tradespeople from whom you can buy and sell things.

  • Gunther the Blacksmith will sell, buy, repair and improve weapons and armour.
  • The gypsy Madame Irma will magically heal wounds and cure poison for free, but will charge to identify magic artifacts and to remove cursed objects that the player is wearing.
  • Perry the Publican sells food and torches and the player can pay to spend a restorative night in his tavern.
  • Larsac the Usurer is the banker where you can deposit your money.
  • Master Elmeric buys and sells potions, amulets, rings, scrolls and spell books and can be paid to recharge magic items whose spells have run out of manna.
  • Master Dalsin teaches you skills for a fee.
  • Bill and Murray are the town guards. Bill will offer you game-playing tips whereas Murray gives you a tour of the town and explains how the tradespeople can help your game play. (When the Darkstone erupts in town Murray is turned to stone and can no longer offer the tour.)
  • Audren and Krym are the town musicians and if you place a gold coin in her cap Audren will play a special song called "The Darkstone Will Shine". Audren is based on the French singer Audren who sings the song and possibly Krym is supposed to be Christophe Rime who did the game's music.
  • In the training camp you will meet Bowman, Swan and Wozarg who will let you train hitting moving bullseyes, fighting sickly trolls and casting fireballs at goblins respectively.
  • There is also a chicken wandering around. (Using the Theft skill on it will liberate an egg).

Note: In the PS1 version, Several characters are missing; Larsac the Usurer, Bill, and Murray. Also, there is no training grounds in the PS1 version. Also, Perry the Publican will buy artifacts that you no longer need.

Enemies

Draak's minions come in many forms - trolls, orcs, skeletons, spiders, scorpions, wyverns and many others. Each of these types has variants - for example, some skeletons use swords while others have bows and still others may attack with fireballs.

Quests

In town the townspeople will ask you to do optional quests in return for money. These quests are either retrieving artifacts or killing an infamous monster.

The artifacts are the Holy Grail, the Royal Diadem, the Shield of Light, the Unicorn's Horn, the Dragon's Scale, the Magic Anvil, the Path Book, the Medallion of Melchior, the Sacred Scroll, the Stone of Souls, the Cursed Sword, the Storm Flower, the Claw of Sargon, the Celestial Harp, the Bard's Music Score and the Broken Vase.

The monsters are the ratman Buzbal the Furious, the vampire Nosferatu and the skeletal Evil Garth.

Note: There are, unfortunately, no available quests for you to do for the townspeople in the PS1 version.

Crystals

There are seven crystals; the purple Crystal of Wisdom, the red Crystal of Virtue, the blue Crystal of Bravery, the yellow Crystal of Nobility, the turquoise Crystal of Compassion, the green Crystal of Integrity and the grey Crystal of Strength.

These are magically reassembled by the hermit Sebastian to form the crystal Time Orb.

Character classes and attributes

There are four general classes, each of which has a male and a female variant giving a total of eight character classes. Each character has a set of four attributes - Strength, Dexterity, Magic and Vitality. Each general class is skilled in one area such as combat, magic, etc. The Warrior and the Amazon, for example, are both skilled in combat. In general the female classes are physically weaker than the male counterparts but make up for this in other areas such as dexterity or magic.

Characters have Health and Mana. A character dies when health decreases to zero. Mana is used when casting spells. Both can be replenished by drinking certain potions or from certain wells. Characters also get hungry as time passes. Food can be bought in town and is often found when opening chests and crates. Characters age as the game progresses. As the character ages, he/she becomes weaker and less dextrous. The effects can be countered by drinking a potion of youth - these become available toward the end of the game and can be bought in town and also may occasionally be found in the various dungeons. Characters have a "level" based upon a points system. Points are gained by doing damage to enemies. A character will "level-up" as certain points thresholds are reached. Each character can carry one weapon, a shield or a torch (but not with a two-handed weapon), and can wear a helmet and armor. You can also wear two amulets and four rings.

The Warrior

"The finest warriors are born in the heart of Ardyl's forests. From their earliest years, they have to become tough and develop absolute physical strength to be able to confront the dangers lurking in their region.

"As children, they learnt to survive in the most hostile of environments, to overwhelm wild beasts with their bare hands and, above all, to fight the goblins and skeletons which abound in their land. They have also put their many expeditions to the various villages to good use by acquiring the mastery of swordsmanship. They usually end up as mercenaries or masters of arms.

"These warriors are now the strongest men alive. Their powerful, yet agile muscular frame makes them formidable opponents in direct combat. Their strength fills the lords with dread and there are very few that would dare challenge them in single combat. They stalk their enemies with the patience of a hunting cat, and can swoop down on them with the speed of a hawk. They do have one weakness, however: they dislike magic because they consider it a demeaning means of combat. They prefer by far the incisive cut and hard steel of the sword to the use of spells."

The Amazon

"Amazons are fierce horsewomen who live in the region of Ardyl. They are entrusted at a young age to a Mother and soon become formidable warriors, showing no fear of either physical strength or magic powers.

"They learn as a group to compensate for their lack of physical strength through their agility and flexibility. Guided by their Mother, they must continually undergo a series of stern trials with the aim of strengthening their spirit and making them a match for any warrior. The worst of these "character-building" trials involves them venturing into the goblins' den and bringing back the skull of their leader…

"The Amazons gain the upper hand in direct combat thanks to their agility and the way in which they can anticipate their opponent's blows. Their enemies describe it as being involved in a relentless dance of death.

"Similarly to the warriors, the Amazons have mastered the use of the sword, demonstrating impressive accuracy. It is, indeed, very rare for them to use magic."

The Wizard

"The greatest wizards come from the region of Marghor. Tradition has it that the ancient wizards always come to Marghor to choose those who have the Gift to become apprentice wizards. This happens when candidates are in their adolescence.

"Their whole life is then turned upside down. They return with their master to his tower, a solitary place conducive to reading and learning. These young wizards spend most of their time immersed in the spell books of the ancient wizards. For years on end they wear their eyesight out poring over scrolls, spending endless nights in their master's library. And then gradually, they begin to master increasingly difficult and complex spells.

"Unfortunately, however, the wizards' towers have now disappeared since the lizard and rat men invaded the region. They carried out attacks on the towers, killing many apprentices in the process....

"The young wizards have now been left with no alternative other than to fight for survival. But as they have never handled weapons they can only rely on their magic powers to defend themselves, as they have always preferred to concentrate on developing their minds, rather than their bodies. But, despite their lack of any physical strength, they have managed to impress their enemies with the intensity of their spells."

The Sorceress

"Very little is known about the sorceresses' early years. Rumour has it that they learnt their magic by themselves in the shady clearings of Marghor's forests. Others allege that the goddess Kaliba, herself, took them under her wing.

"The source of the sorceresses' power is Nature itself. And indeed, they have no match when it comes to knowing the right plants to combine in order to create terrible spells.

"But their most terrifying power, which may be seen as either a gift or a curse, is lycanthropy, which transforms them into a beast, half woman, half wolf.

"The sorceresses are universally feared on account of their potent magic.

"However, for some time now, the ingredients that make up their strange concoctions have become more difficult to find. Worse still, the rat and lizard men have overrun their territory. The Sorceresses realised that they wouldn't be strong enough to confront them, so they had to leave the safe cover of the trees and venture further out towards the villages.

"The village inhabitants still eye them with mistrust, even today, but the sorceresses pay little heed to this as it is vital for them to keep on the move, roaming the land of Uma in search of new ingredients that will enhance their magic powers."

The Assassin

"In order to survive, assassins often begin their careers by relieving merchants of their purses. From their youth, they know how to move around in the dark without making a single sound and steal from sleeping travellers. Their exploits always end up attracting the attention of the Thieves Guild in Serkesh. The assassins have settled in this region, so that they can benefit from the lessons of more accomplished exponents than themselves. In time, the most able of the young apprentices can even surpass their masters.

"As they are cunning and nimble, assassins often use projectile weapons when attacking their opponents in combat. Even if they are capable of engaging in direct combat, they actually prefer to kill their enemy even before he has had the time to draw his sword or use his magic. This tactic is very effective against the serpents that are rife in the region. The assassins have also mastered a number of spells."

The Thief

"The thieves' reputation precedes them in the region of Serkesh. All of these women have demonstrated at one time or other that they have the stuff of which thieves are made. Thus, they became members of the renowned Thieves Guild, where they could develop their natural talents further.

"Within the guild they learned to use their skills to break into merchants' lavish residences to steal gold and precious jewels. They also learned how to kill sentries using projectile weapons and to set traps for travellers at nightfall. Their skill set is considerable and makes them very dangerous opponents, both in direct combat and when using long range weapons."

The Monk

"In the past, before the darkness descended, many monasteries were established in the region of Ormar. The prospective monks were sent to these monasteries where they became good men, enjoying the respect of all. The monks spent many years in this place of prayer, learning various combat techniques and spells.

"Although less accomplished than wizards or warriors in these respective arts, the monks have the advantage of being highly competent in the complementary disciplines of war and magic. Isolated from the rest of the world in their peaceful haven, they have had years to master the use of blunt weapons (i.e. those weapons other than swords). The staff has become their favourite weapon. They have also studied white magic, so that they can use it to help their neighbour and conquer Evil.

"There are now far fewer monks than there were in the past. Nearly all of the monasteries have fallen under attacks from the wyverns sweeping across the region.

"Monks now represent good, as well as life and its combat. They are still held in high regard because of both their skills with a staff and their ability to heal wounds."

The Priestess

"As with the monks, the priestesses have divided their lives between religious devotion and learning the arts of combat and magic. The source of their strength is their faith and they fight in the name of the gods. In a world increasingly threatened every day by the Darkness, they stand out as beacons of Good and Life.

"During their travels they offer assistance to beggars, and they are quite prepared to take on thieves in direct combat, or use their magic to alleviate the suffering of the sick."

Items, spells and skills

Weapons, armor and other equipment

A range of medieval-type weapons are available - swords, knives, bows and so on. Warriors would usually carry a sword or club, while a Magician might use a staff and a Priest a wand. There are also ranged weapons such as bows and throwing knives. Some weapons are two-handed, which precludes the use of a shield. Many items have a minimum requirement of strength, dexterity or magic and can not be worn by characters who do not meet the requirement. There are also items that give protection against attacks with poison, magic or lightning.

Armor also comes in a variety of forms, all the way from rags providing two points of protection to full armor providing sixty points or more.

Weapons, shields, helmets and armor is often imbued with properties that enhance some character attribute. Possible boosts include adding a percentage OR a specific amount of points to damage or armor, a specific amount of points to a single attribute OR all attributes, a percentage to one OR all resistances, or a spell with a specific amount of rechargeable mana points OR a permanent spell that doesn't need recharged. Items may have up to two boosts and one spell- which is extremely rare to find, or to buy from Gunther.

Rings and amulets add to character attributes or protection.

The chances of finding or buying enchanted items increases as the game is played (check with Elmeric and Gunther after you go down to each new dungeon level- their inventory changes), and also as the characters level up to access higher difficulty levels. Higher boosts can be found in the higher difficulty levels.

Spell books and scrolls

Spells can be learned and cast. Spell books can be bought at the town. There is no set order to which spells are available, as every time you re-enter the town, there are different spells sold.

Skills

Skills are learned from Master Dalsin. Each character class has seven predetermined skills; some skills are shared in common by the different classes, while others are specific to the individual classes. Specialized skills include such things as Repair, Theft, Lycanthropy (ability to become a werewolf) and many others.

Blessed objects

Some objects are blessed with qualities such as Abundance, Life Recovery, Quick Mana Recovery, Slow Poison, Light Aura, Spell Duration Increased, Permanent Perception, Mana Shield, Eternal Youth, Poison (poisons enemy), Fire Element (burns enemy), Vampire (steals 20% of enemy's life), Magic Missiles (casts spell when enemy is struck), Storm (pushes enemy back when struck), Stone Curse (petrifies enemy when struck), Touch of Confusion (struck enemy ignores player and attacks other enemies), Push Target Back and Fast/Faster/Fastest Attack, whereas others just have bonuses to attributes.

Cursed objects

Other worn objects are cursed and cannot be removed without the help of Madame Irma. The curses are Old Age, Slow Motion, Bulimia (grow hungry quicker), Leaking Pockets (items drop out of backpack) and Unease (only really affects you in the multiplayer mode—you randomly shout things like "If I see anyone approaching, I will vaporise them!", "Now every man for himself, there will be bloodshed!", "Who is the strongest amongst us?", "My armour is impenetrable!" and "There is a traitor among you, guess who it is!"). Because of the possibility of an item being cursed, you should never wear or wield any unidentified items you accumulate on a quest until you've used your Identify skill or had Madame Irma identify them. When in doubt, save your game then equip the item. If it's cursed, reload the game and sell the cursed item to Gunther.

Runes

One rare artifact is the rune which looks like a small red stone that can be used to fix a spell onto a worn object. (This is done by the player selecting a spell and right-clicking on the rune then left-clicking on an object that causes the spell to be fixed onto it with a mana reserve equal to the player's current mana).

Potions

There are several potions and elixirs that the player can drink, which are identifiable by color. The red potion will restore Health; the blue potion restores Mana. Green potions are usually antidotes, although occasionally they are poisons. The orange potion is an elixir of youth which will reduce your age (and increase your abilities accordingly) by five years, though never to less than 20 years old. Other colors improve specific attributes—purple is for Dexterity, cyan is for Magic, yellow is for Vitality, and gray is for Strength. There is also a peculiar potion known as Surprise, which is usually of a distinctive mottled color but may sometimes appear purple; the Surprise potion will increase one attribute for the character and decrease another. The attributes affected are selected randomly and the number of points gained or lost is likewise a random number.

The Dexterity, Magic, Vitality and Strength potions increase their respective character attributes by one point. Aside from wearing enchanted objects, they are the only way to boost attributes past the character class maximums. For example, the maximum Strength a Sorceress may achieve through levelling up is 50, but enchanted objects and drinking Strength elixirs can raise it up to the absolute maximum number that the Amazon may reach through normal levelling.

Master Elmeric always has Healing, Mana and Antidote potions for sale. He has the four attribute increasing elixirs randomly available along with the Youth potion. (Frequency increases in higher game and difficulty levels.) He will never sell you a poison or a potion of Surprise, but if you find them in the dungeons, he will take them off your hands for a good price.

Critical reception

The game received mixed reviews, with a Metascore of 58, indicating some disagreement about the game. Reviewer John Misak from PC Gameworld wrote in his review:[1]

References

External links

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