The Teutonic World is Open for Business: Darklands on GOG.COM

As the saying goes, the Holy Roman Empire was neither "holy", "Roman" nor an "empire" and thus life in the notoriously divided 15th century Germany was probably not always easy. It's not exactly a walk in the park in MicroProse's classic RPG, either, but at least the game version got dragons in it (someone please call Bethesda's lawyers...).

Good Old Games has just re-released Darklands (1992), and although I've never personally played it before today I know it to be one of the most ambitious open world games ever released. The gameplay is party-based and structured around a deep skill system with plenty of stats and abilities, 37 classes and a variety of social backgrounds to choose from (which in turn affect class restrictions etc.) as well as an abundance of skill and equipment checks throughout the game. The party can follow the storyline or otherwise explore the huge world map freely in search of fame and fortune, and combat is resolved within a "pause-based" isometric system which is somewhat reminiscent of later RPGs like Baldur's Gate. Exploration of cities is largely text-based but features an impressive amount of options about what to do and how to approach the numerous dangerous situations the party invariably finds itself in. I definitely need to play more of this inviting and somewhat intimidating game, and thankfully the official cluebook is included in the GOG release...

Buy Darklands here; http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/darklands

7 Comments
8 Comments
Posted by Egge

As the saying goes, the Holy Roman Empire was neither "holy", "Roman" nor an "empire" and thus life in the notoriously divided 15th century Germany was probably not always easy. It's not exactly a walk in the park in MicroProse's classic RPG, either, but at least the game version got dragons in it (someone please call Bethesda's lawyers...).

Good Old Games has just re-released Darklands (1992), and although I've never personally played it before today I know it to be one of the most ambitious open world games ever released. The gameplay is party-based and structured around a deep skill system with plenty of stats and abilities, 37 classes and a variety of social backgrounds to choose from (which in turn affect class restrictions etc.) as well as an abundance of skill and equipment checks throughout the game. The party can follow the storyline or otherwise explore the huge world map freely in search of fame and fortune, and combat is resolved within a "pause-based" isometric system which is somewhat reminiscent of later RPGs like Baldur's Gate. Exploration of cities is largely text-based but features an impressive amount of options about what to do and how to approach the numerous dangerous situations the party invariably finds itself in. I definitely need to play more of this inviting and somewhat intimidating game, and thankfully the official cluebook is included in the GOG release...

Buy Darklands here; http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/darklands

Posted by OldGuy

It's a fantastic game... "too bad" you'll never know the "fun" it was before the multiple and extensive patching it required... :-)
 
I'm going to buy it when i get home tonight.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

This game seems like the kind of thing I'd be into, with its unique setting, open world and proto-infinity engine style combat. Of course, I also always have trouble getting into these DOS era RPGs, despite the vast amount of video content they've allowed me to make lazy blogs from. I wishlisted it, for the inevitable day when I feel like making some bad impulse purchases.

Posted by SeriouslyNow

The last truly deep computer RPG and probably the first on the cusp of the revolution of RPG mechanics and engines which were built with these games in mind. I think its also one the last independent games from Microprose too.

No mention of Darklands should be without:-

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@OldGuy: I read that it actually erased hard drives? Or was that apocryphal? I know it caused a lot of people problems. I was dissuaded from buying it just from those rumors. A real shame about those bugs, since I found the game later and fell in love.
 
@ArbitraryWater: ask me anything
 
@SeriouslyNow: Just saw that Matt Chat set of vids today. Great stuff. I feel like games NOW could learn some lessons from this game!
Posted by Egge

@SeriouslyNow: On the contrary, I think games can be discussed quite adequately without any references to the more commercially inclined YouTube "personalities" like MattChat or TotalBiscuit. But you're probably right on Microprose's rapidly changing status as an independent company immediately following the release of Darklands, which is a fact that surprised me a little when I started checking it out.

Posted by OldGuy
@ahoodedfigure: It never erased any drives that I knew of (I was a mod on the CompuServe gaming forums at the time, and didn't get any whiff of that anyway)...
 
However, it was likely best for you that you waited, it was almost completely broken at launch... took almost 6 months to get a patch to make it mostly playable...
Posted by SeriouslyNow

@Egge said:

@SeriouslyNow: On the contrary, I think games can be discussed quite adequately without any references to the more commercially inclined YouTube "personalities" like MattChat or TotalBiscuit. But you're probably right on Microprose's rapidly changing status as an independent company immediately following the release of Darklands, which is a fact that surprised me a little when I started checking it out.

Matt's hardly commercial and definitely not in the same sphere as The Cynical Brit. Matt has extremely strong views on the state of gaming and he interviews people that most wouldn't even know at all. In any case, it's a matter of his work covering this subject quite informatively and it does. Simple.