Dark Earth was developed by the defunct French company Kallisto Entertainment and released for the PC in the US by Microprose on Sept. 30, 1997.
Dark Earth is set in a post-apocalyptic society in the 21st century shaped by the fact that the Earth no longer receives the sun's rays due to meteor collisions. In a few areas light breaks through the dust clouds, creating oases for human settlements or "stallites" to flourish. The cities of the survivors have regressed to roughly a medieval state of sophistication, strongly determined by religious rituals and routines, although everywhere there are ruins and functional pieces of technology indicating the remains of an equivalent to present-day society. For some reason the darkness mutates humans exposed to it, turning them into bizarre, hostile mutants. Light is worshipped as a godlike being in Dark Earth's stallites, and the priests are the leaders of their communities. The protagonist is Arkhan, a protector of the priests, who is poisoned in a conspiratorial attack and begins to transform into a dark creature. The rest of the game revolves around finding a cure for his mutation and find out why he was attacked in a race against time.
The gameplay in Dark Earth relies on fairly standard adventure tropes; searching the environment, finding items, and occasionally combat. Interaction with other characters is essential for finding clues and progressing in the game. Unfortunately the movement controls for Arkhan are extremely clunky, making combat a rather problematic affair. Arkhan relies upon food for healing and must continue to find weapons to use as they have limited durability. In addition, Arkhan is also slowly turning into a dark creature. This functions as a time limit because if a certain amount of time passes he will morph completely and the game ends.
Although many reviews are unable to be retrieved due to its age, Dark Earth has a 71% average on Gamerankings (7 reviews). Gamespot was quite positive in its review, referring to the game as high-quality adventure and praising the graphics and story despite problems with the camera, controls, and save system (8/10).
Although made available for download on the internet by some sites as abandonware, Dark Earth has crippling compatibility issues with current OSes (anything after and including Windows XP). It appears emulation of Windows 95/98 is required to get the game to run properly.