Review By: Christopher
believe I played the whole thing! I know I complain a lot about
how short some of the last years PS2 games have been, but I
guess now I should eat my words. Dark Cloud is
ridiculously, and needlessly long.
The story is
interesting enough: An evil, power hungry general has released
an imprisoned Genie from his tomb. Said Genie proceeds to
destroy most of the world. Bummer. Yet there's hope. As it turns
out, just before everything in each village is destroyed, a wise
wizard encapsulated every item, building, and person into
magical Atlamillia, and scattered the pieces throughout the
land. The wizard then chose one boy, Toan, to bear the burden of
rebuilding this ruined world, and to attempt to re-seal the Dark
Genie in a new prison. Fun ensues.
there are six playable characters. Although, there isn't much
need to play more than two (obviously Toan, and one of the two
'ranged-weapon' characters). The others are cool in there own
ways, but personally, I only played them when certain levels
forced me to. The graphics are not going to blow anyone away.
They are what we've come to expect from a PS2 game. There are a
lot of nice details (particularly the lighting effects as time
progresses throughout the day), and I like how each
village/dungeon has it's own unique 'feel'. The sound effects
are also standard. But the music is certainly above average. In
retrospect, the fact that I played a game for THAT long and
didn't ever consciously think how monotonous the music was is a
real credit. Not exactly a huge accolade, but in truth, the
score is very well done.
One of the
most beautiful things about this game goes relatively unnoticed.
There are almost no load times. When world building, you can
plop one building and character into a village area, then move
right into the world and speak to that character, with no wait.
Even the cut-scenes are rendered real time, not the usual
pre-rendered CGI on disc that we have grown accustom to seeing;
again, almost no waiting. Speaking of the cut-scenes, an
interesting little detail that I got a kick out of was that Toan
never actually speaks himself - an occasional grunt or
exclamation, but no dialogue.
Cloud does a good job in weaving a number of interesting (if
not original) ideas into a nice whole. Basically, there are four
elements in the game: dungeon crawling, village building,
weapons management, and world map. The 'weaving' goes something
like this: talk to characters in the villages to find out what
they need, go into the dungeon to find those things, then place
them into the world while you rebuild the village. Problem is,
the deeper you go into the dungeons, the harder the enemies
become. That's where the final, and most interesting element
comes into play - the weapons management system. Instead of the
characters 'leveling up' like in most RPGs, in Dark Cloud the
WEAPONS level-up. You add abilities to your weapons by placing
attachments, in the form of gems or magic stones, onto the
weapon. The attachments are then absorbed into the weapon each
time the weapon increases in level. At a certain level, you can
change any weapon into a separate attachment which you can then
add to another weapon. Through this process, you can gain
powers, abilities, and increase a number of other categories for
all of your weapons. There are a TON of weapons available, so
the player can choose a favorite, and build that weapon into new
and more powerful forms. Eventually, you can reach a point where
you have an "ultimate" weapon, which is so powerful it
can't be built up anymore. But you probably won't reach that
point until AFTER you clear the game (more on that later).
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