Dark Cloud is an enjoyable dungeon crawl which suffers slightly from trying to be too many genres at once
Mangaminx wrote this review on .
Story & Characters
In Dark Cloud the story is arguably one of the most strange I've come across accompanied by a bizarre cast to match. The locations you'll visit range from a sunken ship to the annals of history themselves and the cast range from our generic Link clone Toan to psychotic moon bunnies with jetpacks. Riggghttttt. Anyway plotwise here there isnt much special, evil genies has returned, wants to destroy the world, does so, Toan sets about rebuilding it and battles to confront his nemesis. There are a few plot "twists" on the way through and by twists I mean Level 5 seem to actually have been on drugs while creating this game, after some cutscenes I was left trying to figure out what the hell had happened and how this was at all relevant to the story but in the end I just gave up. The plots main issue is that each of the towns you visit have stories so apart from each other and are such varied locations in themselves they feel greatly disjointed and things could have been handled a bit more fluidly.
The cast themselves while interesting to look at and all with their own funky attacks are pretty bland, with none of them really having much of a fleshed out personality or backstory. Toan's a generic idiot, Ruby the genie is a feisty femme (at least when she actually has dialogue) and Ungaga the egyptian like guy is a proud warrior. Theres other playable and non-playable characters too of course and personality wise they all may as well be toasters.
But hey, the plots fairly irrelevant here, this is a dungeon crawler with over 200 or something floors of fun should you have the patience to tackle optional content (you weirdo you). The concept is simple, in each dungeon Toan and Co enter, explore the floor, fight monsters, find Atla and open chests then eventually find the key to the next floor and progress. You can then exit the dungeon briefly, save, buy crap and build the towns your reparing. One thing you'll be doing a lot of incidentally is buying crap. Your characters need a rather irritating level of mantinence. Weapons must be repaired with repair powder, water must be drunk so you don't die of thirst and food must be consumed to heal you. It would have been more appropriate to take a picnic hamper with me on some occasions with the amount of chicken legs and refreshing water Toan was lugging about with him. Fortunately once you get the hang of this micro management it can be got used too and you end up just lugging lots of crap around with you to avoid any issues.
Combat wise is where the games main draw for me was. Simple hack and slash or ranged blasting with the cast is simple, addictive and makes the game pretty damn great. As you use weapons they power up and get more lethal with your weaponry rather than you levelling up. You can augment weapons with items found in dungeons and even break weapons down into augmentations holding 75% of their previous stats to place into new and better weapons should you want too. The games weapon levelling system is really fun/innovative and deep but you can certainly complete the game just doing things simply so don't let the initial complexity of the system overwhelm you just stick to the basics should you wish too.
The games other draws are the other genres it uses. We have of course the building of the villages and towns, encorporating a simple plugging different shaped objects into house templates to complete them system. For example youll have a house, so you plug in the guy who lives there, then a fire for him, then a extension of his bedroom etc.. etc.. you get the idea. Essentially you will be building the towns you shop in and it's a nice twist. The only issues that occured for me is when you needed to complete the whole town to trigger certain events to reach the boss and the game is hugely vague on who in the town you need to speak to and what to do to progress. I spent two hours trying to get a fortune teller to trigger a event for me, and it turned out id put her damn house at the wrong angle and nothing had been explained. It was ANNOYING.
The final genre the game tries to emulate some parts of is the action//adventure style genre. Like Tomb Raider, or Resident Evil for example. The developers thought the best way of handling this would be to add action sequence animations where you need to press buttons like in a rythmn game for your character to pull off moves on the screen. These events in action games have always sucked and in Dark Cloud as they are pointlessly tacked on they suck even more. Game developers take heed..
Graphics & Sound
Pretty bland game, bad draw distance and simple graphics. I can't be too hard though as its pretty old too and it has a certain cartoony charm. Sound wise we have irrtaitng repetative ditties that made me want to staple my ears shut.
About 26 hours to complete for myself, again if your one of these psychotic individuals who likes to do ridiculously difficult extra stuff then theres lots of ridciulously difficult extra stuff to do which could add on another 15 hours or so. 26 was enough for me to enjoy it an not get bored.
If you like dungeon crawlers and don't mind the repetition of the genre, give Dark Cloud a try, I've no idea if its rare or cheap these days as I got mine a loooong time ago and didnt play it for ages. The games certainly fun but the extra elements make some things frutrating and the micro management certainly isnt for all.