Have you ever paid too much for something you cannot return? After doing so, most people have a terrible sinking feeling that often produces some mild nausea, and then a brief period of time where one tries to justify the purchase. Time passes, and this justification soon turns to resentment. Unless you enjoy this gut-wrenching path to regret, do not purchase Dark Raider.
To review a game, one must normally play a game to the completion of its story, or if the game has no story one should play until they have played enough of the game to understand its nuances and are able to pass judgment. I always make sure to follow this guideline. Try as I might, I could not play Dark Raider to completion. Sadly, I could not even play to the completion of the first world. As such I would understand if one would immediately glance over my opinion, but hear me out that you may come to understand my negativity.
From the get-go Dark Raider feels like a poorly made straight to dvd sci-fi movie. The game opens with cheesy voice acting that only serves to cheapen the experience. Dark Raider’s story is bland, and the main character is a straight visual rip-off of Indiana Jones. The creativity is very limited, and the game feels more like a collection of pseudo-scientific themes, the likes of which make up the entirety of movies like National Treasure. I am not saying that there is no place for themes of this sort, but simply that they are executed poorly in Dark Raider. Why is there a sphinx sitting out on what looks to be a beautiful green lawn, and why is it the same size as a bush?
Dark Raider is an adventure game that aspires to the likes of Zelda. As Link’s Awakening is one of my all time favorites, I can guarantee that Dark Raider falls short of the special place that the top-down Zelda games hold in gaming history and by a long shot. Of course, that is a harsh standard to judge by but the developers chose to compare their game to Zelda on the itunes page. Taking that into account, it is apparent upon first booting up the game that there is an immense gap between the proposed and actual value of this game.
The flaws of Dark Raider can mostly be corralled into one specific statement, that statement being: Dark Raider is poorly designed for its platform. Play sessions must be long enough to beat each “temple”, there simply is no quick-save while you are attempting to make your way through each portion of the overworld. This is antithetical to the trend of games on iPhone, but it has been done before in games such as Galaxy on Fire. The difference here is the frustrating difficulty and constant deaths that stem from controls. Once dead, the player is simply booted back to the overworld with no sense of progress whatsoever; leaving little to no incentive to go at it a second or third time. Almost done with a section that you have attempted several times but have to turn of the iphone? You are out of luck.
Dark Raider’s faux-directional pad simply does not suffice. Had I been holding something along the lines of an Xbox controller, Dark Raider would have felt much better to me, because the game requires a degree of precision that is simply not accessible with the given controls. Dark Raider feels like an old game, but not in a way that brings a smile to your face. The puzzles are tired and easily solved, the difficulty is aggravating, and the graphical style is uninspired.
I cannot emphasize enough how crippled this game is by its controls. I found myself in anguish when trying to hit enemies that move so easily across the screen while I tried in vain to simply not run into them, let alone shoot them. I understand that perhaps the intention was that the player keeps their thumb down and simply moves it about similar to controlling a nub on an old laptop, but I found that the range of motion required for this kind of control necessitates that I pick up my thumb simply because the control is too large for me to use it any other way. For a frame of reference, the game controls nowhere near as well as idracula, where aiming and walking were two separate controls.
I am not interested in finding out more about this game, and I am not one of those people that will wait for the last level when things inevitably always ‘get really good’ or the game ‘hits its stride’. A game should be fun for the majority of the time played, and unfortunately I cannot say this about my time spent with Dark Raider.
All of these issues are compounded by the fact that the game costs a full 8 dollars on itunes, a price normally reserved for premium content. Even with a price drop, I would hesitate to make a commitment to this game. Not purchasing this game is not simply a good way to save money, but also a way to condemn those that promise a Zelda but deliver something nowhere near eight dollars worth of quality and usability. I do not mean to focus on the Zelda comparison too much, but it is simply a high water mark for the genre that Dark Raider sits far below.
One may still ask if the reviewer has indeed given the game a fair shot. An analogous situation may help explain; obtain a job hand shoveling some sort of feces and if it takes you longer than an hour to realize that you are not having a good time and probably never will, feel free to question the validity of the review. There are, of course, always the weird ones that like that sort of self-inflicted punishment.
Graphics and Presentation
While the presentation of the game is poor, and the art design off-putting, the actual technical element of the graphics is not horrible. The lighting works well, and the game runs smoothly. Animations can be sub-par, not to mention the Indy ripoff.
The in-game sounds and music are not shabby, but can wear on the user after some time. The ability to listen to my own music would have helped.
The concept behind this game is tired, and it is executed on an absolutely condemnable level. Playing the game is frustrating due to sloppy controls and a bad saving system. The structure of the levels is interesting, as there is no work to get to the various dungeons, unfortunately there is little fun to be had upon arrival.
People who manage to push past the flaws can feasibly find a solid adventure, but to get to that point it may take far too long. The 8 dollar price point is unfair, this money could easily be better spent getting five (if not more) games of better quality.