Review: Dark Legends (PC)

Dark Legends
Publisher: Spacetime Studios
Developer: Spacetime Studios
Genre: MMORPG
Release Date: 04/12/2012

When this first popped up on my radar, I was ready to give it a pass. It looked like a Facebook RPG where to get into the higher levels you had to pour real cash into it to have any hope of doing much of anything. After blowing through the starter area and into the first campaign though, I realized there was more to this game and decided to give it a real shot. Does this game put bite back into the Vampire after Twilight sucked all that out, or does it leave the Vampire story lying tied up on a dock waiting for the sunrise? Let’s take a look.

Story wise there’s some neat things going on. You’re a vampire looking to work for a bunch of older vampires by taking care of trouble makers through a number of territories. The story takes place through a set of text descriptions, the missions themselves, and a few side missions where you’re just going to talk with someone, dig up a body, or break into a building. While not overly developed, it does remind me a bit of Vampire the Masquerade in terms of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and who you’re doing it for. It can feel a bit generic, and while it’s happening to you, there is a disconnect because of how the bulk of it is told.

Visually this is kind of a mixed bag. Being developed across three platforms that all connect to the same account info has its benefits and drawbacks. I believe this was developed for Android first, and on the PC you run it through Google Chrome as an app, and you can kind of tell it was designed to run on a tablet from the look and function of the UI as well as the look of the characters and the levels. On a tablet or phone it doesn’t look too bad, but on my PC it just doesn’t hold up as well compared to other current PC games. It gets the job done, is fairly stylized, but as far as polygons go, we’re on the lower end of the spectrum. It gets the job done, and you do get the feeling like you’re in different places. What you end up seeing is a graveyard, a city street, a mansion, and a rooftop setting for each of your combat areas. The layouts get a little more involved as you go and the critters you kill and chew on change up a bit. The animations look pretty decent, and the blood spatter when you leap up and feed on someone is pretty extreme. While not a feast for the eyes, the game does its job in delivering a stylized and over the top experience.

Audibly, you can play this with the sound off or on and really not get that much of a difference. The music is forgettable, the battle sounds generic, and the mob audio is the same. So visually and audibly we’ve got a mixed bag, but you’re looking at an under-achiever here. So why did I have fun playing this one? It controls and plays well, which, when you’re talking about an action-ish title, that’s what you want.

Controls are responsive and do what you want, except when there’s lag, which I only got a few times while I was playing it and it was very brief. You use the WASD configuration to move around, spacebar fires off a generic attack or grab, and then you have special attack that you click on with your mouse to fire them off. Most of the gameplay is centered around combat sections through 9 campaigns, usually 4 sections in each campaign, where you enter an area and wade through a group of enemies to an end boss. The enemies change up depending on your level, what run through you’re on for the quest, and what enemies are involved in the story line. There are breakables and items that hold loot scattered around the levels, ranging from bookcases and mounds of dirt, to mailboxes and corpses. You can get gold through missions, but not platinum. Platinum is Dark Legends real world currency. You start with 10 Platinum, and can earn some through free ads, but your best bet is actually plunking cash down on them. There isn’t much you have to buy with platinum, with quite a few of the vanity outfits being available through gold (large amounts of gold), but there is a lot of convenience items that are platinum based.

I ended up buying two different outfit sets that also gave me weapons and gems for my character as well as a chunk of gold. There’s energy refills that are platinum only, quest skipping, and a random weapon and gem pull that costs platinum but you’re not guaranteed anything game-breaking, just around your level. The ones I pulled from there the first time were not actually better than the ones I got with my outfits when I started. Most of your time is spent questing in the campaigns. When there isn’t combat, there are brief missions (like 5-10 seconds long) where it shows your character doing something with an end result after. Sometimes there is a timer on the end result and you may have to wait for those to go through before you can advance in the campaign.

You do get some stat bumps as you level that you have no control over. What you do have control over are crystals that have stat boosts as well as your weapons. Armor is completely a vanity thing, so how you look doesn’t determine your stats at all. That Vamp in the nurses outfit over there could totally wipe the floor with you, while the one in combat gear might be a pushover. It’s an interesting system, and I kind of like it, but being gear dependent, with a store and real world money behind it, can somewhat unbalance the field for players looking to PVP. Something to think about if you get into it.

PVP is broken down into a King of the Hill and Capture the Flag experience. You have no idea of the level of people you’re facing off against, but you do know what level your team mates are. Combat in PVP works exactly like it does in the campaigns only you’re going against other people. To get to the PVP area, there’s a Vampire Lounge section in an urban area that has access to shops that have some places you won’t be able t get through the menu, a unique subway entrance area to the campaigns instead of the menu, and ways to interact with other players. There is a text chat that can be a little limited. Invites are timed and will pass by quickly from the notifications screen. I actually found this section to be the most awkward, not in layout which was great, but the text chat in general felt almost tacked on. It was especially awkward when people started hitting me up for Vamp sex. The in game chat isn’t built for it and I wasn’t quite prepared for it. I’m not in college anymore people and I’m married.

Being able to go into campaigns you’ve already beaten to go for the rare loot drop is nice. The fact it scales to you is even nicer. There are achievements for different things like level hits, kills, your influence, and so on. The fighting levels move pretty quick. I don’t think I’d had any that too me longer than 10 minutes or so to beat. You can also play the campaign map missions solo or multiplayer. If you pick multiplayer people can join you in progress or you can join others in progress. They’re fun either way. Overall there’s a nice variety to keep you coming back to it even after you’ve plowed through the 9 campaigns.

You can’t beat free to play to at least try a game out. And while the random loot pulls for cash do give a light unfair advantage, you aren’t always going to get something better than you’d already pulled form a quest. The bigger issue might be the energy resets for cash as someone with cash can plow through to higher levels while someone who has to wait for energy will take longer. The bulk of this game is really the looks and campaigns though, at least for me. PVP was really secondary. The game does get more difficult as you go, the action getting more intense as you level. I’m using blood packs for health now but when I started out I didn’t have to use any. The bad guys get tougher, add different tactics, and change p the way you approach a group of baddies as you go.

As far as originality, this feels like it pulls from a bunch of the vampire mythos, specifically the more modern ones as its set in the present. Fans of White Wolf’s Vampire The Masquerade might notice the mention of Vampire higher-ups and needing to keep things quiet, but there aren’t any clans. The feeding mechanic when you dealt a ton of damage is a nice addition and something that kept me wading into groups just to see if I could get enough built up to fire that off. So while there are some things new here, this does feel a bit derivative of a lot of the stuff out there. Realistically though, when it comes to Vampires, re-inventing the wheel could get you staked.

I played this in short bursts. The amount of energy you have is about how much the game held my interest until I wanted to do something else. It’s one of those games you pick up while something else is loading or downloading, or if you have a few minutes before that meeting or dinner. While it was fun, it wasn’t something I’d spend all day playing. The biggest thing this game has going for it is being able to take it across platforms. I played this mostly on my PC as it wasn’t yet out for iOS when I was reviewing it, and my wife hides her Android tablet when she’s not using it, so while I got to try it out on the tablet, I didn’t get to play long term. I like the idea of being able to take a game to wherever I’m sitting or doing things and if I can pop on at Panera on a tablet and make a run and then do the same when I get home on my PC, that’s a bonus.

Overall I didn’t have any glitches. It loads a little slowly at first, but once you’re in there’s no issues. This was just a really cute, disturbing and fun take on an action MMORPG that I actually happened to enjoy. Being able to play wherever I’m at (as long as you have internet) is a nice touch, and I’m sure I’ll be playing this when I’m looking to kill some time when I’m visiting relatives or playing taxi for those that need it.

The Scores
Story: Decent
Graphics: Enjoyable
Sound: Decent
Control and Gameplay: Good
Replayability: Good
Balance: Above Average
Originality: Below Average
Addictiveness: Mediocre
Appeal Factor: Good
Miscellaneous: Decent
FINAL SCORE: Above Average Game

Short Attention Span Summary
asheresizeDark Legends is an interesting entry in the MMO genre, giving you cross-platform play from your PC to an Android device, and the iOS. While the visuals are a bit simplified given which devices it runs on, the story pretty basic, and feeling like a slightly fleshed out version of a casual RPG from Facebook with other people in it, it does have a bit of charm. There is some flashy and fun action combat, and it’s good for when you have a few moments with your phone or tablet, or are waiting for a download on your PC, so you can pop in and do a little PVP or work on your campaigns. There’s a bit of fun to be had marauding around as a vampire, but I think people who are heavier into MMOs might get bored with the simplicity while a casual player will have a blast.

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