Darkeden Review

When a veteran MMO player (like all of our Ten Ton Hammer readers) logs into a new game, there are a number of things that you come to expect: Character creation, a tutorial of some kind...

When a veteran MMO player (like all of our Ten Ton Hammer readers) logs
into a new game, there are a number of things that you come to expect:
Character creation, a tutorial of some kind explaining the gameplay
features, and a somewhat safe new player experience that eases you into
whatever game you're checking out. From time to time, there are games
that miss one or two of these initial categories either because of the
design of the game or because the game was made when these options
weren't entirely necessary. Unfortunately, I had an inkling that the
next MMO on my gaming review list, a horror-based PvP-oriented title
named target="_blank">Darkeden,
would probably skip over a few of these crucial steps.

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If you die
in the game, you'll be met with a horde of item sellers.

But that didn't keep me from getting excited about the game. At first
glance, Darkeden
hearkens back to the days of top-down viewpoint RPGs; games like style="font-style: italic;">Diablo, style="font-style: italic;">Baldur's Gate, and style="font-style: italic;">Fallout come to
mind when you take a look at the Darkeden
screenshots located on their webpage. That sort of style had really
been calling to me over the past few weeks, and style="font-style: italic;">Darkeden was
potentially the game to fulfill that desire. I've also had a decent
amount of exposure to one of Joymax's other MMOs, style="font-style: italic;">Silkroad Online,
and despite a few translation issues, I generally enjoyed the gameplay
throughout that fantasy MMORPG.

So by the time I settled on Darkeden
as my next game to review, I was pumped up and excited to hit the
servers running. However, instead of racing into the world at a dead
sprint, I had a Charlie Brown and Lucy moment where I was
running, running, running and then got tripped up right before I kicked
the ball. After downloading the client and quickly installing the game,
I popped into the world and tried logging in with my Joymax ID only to
be met with this message:

"This account is abnormal. Please contact support center.

Bouncing over to the Darkeden
website, I looked around for anything that looked vaguely similar to a
support page, but couldn't find what I was looking for. Finally, after
several minutes of searching and pounding my head on the keyboard, I
noticed a small button on the sidebar that read: "User Agreement."
Crossing my fingers, I clicked on the button and sighed in relief. Like
most free-to-play games, you have to "agree" to play the game via the
web page portal, but I hadn't initially seen any buttons on the website
to press, so I had forged ahead with my eyes closed. While most online
games sport a "register" page or something of that nature, the use of
"User Agreement" was a bit baffling.

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You'll find
some horribly translated dialogue in Darkeden.

With all that behind me, I finally got into the meat and bones of style="font-style: italic;">Darkeden. Or at
least, what should have been the meat and bones. At character creation,
you’re given the option of selecting three different races
– Ouster, Slayer, and Vampire – each of which has
its own particular playstyle and advancement system. While Vampires use
a level-based system to advance, Slayers progress by gradually building
up their skills through weapon usage. Ousters are like a combination of
the other two classes. From the outset, it’s made readily
apparent that both the Ouster and the Vampire – at least in
the beginning – grossly overpower the Slayer. When you select
the Slayer, the game informs you that you’re going to have a
tough time, at least in the beginning, and they’re not
kidding around. In the very beginning, Slayers won’t be able
to take on a Vampire in a one-on-one battle. Even after a week of
training, I still wasn’t able to down a Vampire with my
Slayer. While it doesn’t help that Vampires seem much more
prevalent than your Slayer friends, it also seems impossible to find
anyone willing to form a group at any time of the day. I had one
instance of grouping offered to me. Everyone else simply walked away.

And that’s not the only thing that makes the beginning of style="font-style: italic;">Darkeden difficult.
The initial NPCs have such horribly translated dialogue that it can
take several minutes to actually deduce what the NPC is trying to tell
you. I think it’s great that Joymax tried to get players to
understand the storyline of the game, but to do so in such an
amateurish manner really was hard to understand. Why go to the effort
if you’re only going to do a half-assed job of translating?
Some of my favorite bits of dialogue include:

I will expect the bests
from you!

Let me see. Hmmmj; It is almost broken! Why you didn’t come
to me earlier!?

I will drop by you next repairing.

I have been grown up in Eslania all my life.

Although storages are little expensive, it is free after one payment.

After you’ve grimaced your way through the initial dialogue,
you’re basically released into the world. While this may
sound exciting for some, being a helpless Slayer with only a few skills
isn’t necessarily the best way to enter into a PvP-based
game. Combat is what you’d expect from a game that looks like
You click on your opponents to attack them, and you can intersperse
your clicks by using one of your skills and/or abilities. Although
Slayers have a whole slew of skills to choose from, the really magical
folks are the Ousters. If you’re looking to get one-shotted
out in the open world, just go looking for a high level Ouster.
Movement is also click-based, so be careful where you’re
clicking if you want to attack something and not move halfway to

Let’s just say that within thirty seconds of stepping outside
the starting gates, I was set upon by a player-controlled vampire and
quickly eviscerated. Falling to the ground, I waited for my body to
respawn back at the starting area.

I waited. And waited. And waited some more.

searching my screen for several minutes, I eventually found a randomly
placed button and when I scrolled over it and clicked it, I was
respawned in the middle of town. While “town” may
sound innocent
enough, it isn’t your starting area, and being dumped into
the “town”
is like being moved from the known into the unknown. As a veteran MMO
gamer, I’m used to respawning very close to my death
location, and it
was disappointing to find that I had to walk for a good minute or two
to get back to my area of initial demise.

It turns out that
after a bit of investigation on the official Darkeden website, there's
a special training ground that's been built for players that are in
their beginning skill progression levels. Unfortunately, there's
nothing in the game world that indicates where a player should go to
find these areas. In fact, the beginner's guide on the Darkeden website
only lists this particular area in a pair of sentences in the middle of
the guide. By the time I discovered the training area, I was already
well past the levels that I could use the area.The graphics are a bit
below average as well. Although I still hearily enjoy playing all of
the isometric RPGs of yesteryear, Darkeden's graphics really weren't
anything spectacular. In fact, I'd wager that they're actually worse
than what players are used to in Baldur's Gate II and Diablo II. While
1024x768 resolution is supported, you'll quickly grow tired of seeing
the same tired mobs and player characters that appear incredibly
similar. Even when it was released, Baldur's Gate at least had enough
variety to keep player from getting bored with the landscapes.

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A horde of

And the game really doesn’t get any better after that.
There’s almost a persistent lack of information in Darkeden.
While some games don’t expect their gamers to learn every
in-and-out of the interface or the statistics, style="font-style: italic;">Darkeden almost
makes it a point to leave every process in their game up to the
imagination. The user interface has plenty of buttons that leave you
scratching your head, wondering what that particular button is used for
an how it could come in handy. Some of my initial questions included:

What happens when I die?

Why can’t I
respawn somewhere besides the middle of town?
style="font-style: italic;">

How important are items
to the strength of my character?
style="font-style: italic;">

Where can I find more

Why are there so many
high-level players around the starting town?
style="font-style: italic;">

How do I get rid of my
“bloodsuck” debuff that turns me into a Vampire?

The last question, and one that I saw often from new players, was
probably the most problematic for me. If you are drained of your blood
by a player-controlled Vampire out in the world, not only do you die,
but you gain a debuff that turns you into a Vampire if you
don’t get rid of it in 12 hours. That’s not in-game
hours – that’s out-of-game hours. So if
you’re looking to go on vacation or take a nice weekend
holiday, you’d better not leave your debuff on your
character, or you’ll return to find a nice vampire staring at
your face instead.

As far as I can tell, once you’ve been turned into a Vampire,
you’re stuck that way. Slayers may have the potential to
become the most powerful characters in the game, but without a doubt
the starting levels are incredibly difficult to navigate.
You’re given very basic weaponry (Vampire don’t
require any weapons to kick your ass), a crappy set of armor, and
pushed out the door. Some players don’t even know what their
statistics mean when they “roll up” a character,
thus making them completely worthless in the beginning of the game.

To make matters worse, people that play Vampires in style="font-style: italic;">Darkeden are
probably the most childish, ignorant bastards I’ve ever
encountered in an online space. Besides the constant
“noob” comments being tossed around by the resident
twelve-year-old, they’re constantly belittling you wherever
you go, and sport such quality names as xxPwnYouxx. They run up to you
with either their mohawked or incredibly bulky Vampires and proceed to
beat you to death with their fists. The Ouster and Slayer players are a
bit better in there attitudes, but there’s definitely some
idiots on both sides of the coin.

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Here's a
nice picture of some guy calling me a noob. Bastard.

Perhaps the one redeeming quality in style="font-style: italic;">Darkeden is the
leveling / progression system. Although gamers will be constantly
dying, there doesn't seem to be any major experience loss or debt, and
actually earning a level in this nasty, free-for-all world is something
to be proud of. Every time I progressed in my skill set, I felt a sense
of achievement that I really haven't found in most of the modern MMOGs.
This sort of feeling hearkens back to my days in style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest, where
earning a level really meant something.

But that's one of the few redeeming qualities I found. After several
hours of toiling through this game, I have to say that it ranks as one
of the worst online experiences I’ve ever encountered.
Between the constant dying, the initial confusion, the community
interaction (or lack thereof), and the disregard for simple player
concerns, Darkeden
seems like a game that could use a severe overhaul. Maybe underneath
all of my complaints, there is actually a fun game worth playing, but
until Joymax fixes the translation, imports a solid tutorial and new
game experience and clamps down on some of the idiots in the game,
there’s no way I’ll touch this game ever again.

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(1 / 5

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