Dark Savior was a frustrating platformer and a weak RPG, but had an enjoyable story.
Dark Savior is the spiritual successor to Landstalkers. I loved alot of aspects to this game, including the storyline, characters, graphical style, but the platforming was terrible. The Dark Savior, like Landstalkers, is presented in a isometric view but it's also in 3D. While I love the move to 3D, I hate not having full control of the camera. You can move the camera with the L and R buttons, but they would always revert back to it's locked position after you look around, so platforming can be a total guessing game sometimes.
Either way, Dark Savior presents multiple storylines, and interesting story, it might be short but it's worth playing multiple times.
Dark Savior is a action RPG / Platformer. There's a ton of platforming in this game, and actually I would say the camera and controls are your biggest enemy.
All battles are presented like a 1 on 1 fighter. All battles are pretty much boss fights too, because there's only a couple dungeons that have any enemies in it. You'll kill a couple bats, but other than that you won't entire any real enemies in dungeons, just boss fights at the end of them. The boss fights have basic fighter game mechanics, but crappier. To win the battle you have to defeat the enemy in battle twice, like say Street Fighter II. You can attack, block, jump and run. You can also charge your attack, and then unleash a mega powerful move but it's easily countered. I had a ton of trouble with this system at first, but all enemies use the same tactics, so you can easily figure it out. The game actually gets easier later on.
You can also capture enemies, sort of a finishing move. When you capture an enemy, you can use them in battle as a replacement instead of Garian. When you lose a battle, the game is completely over, start again from your last save. When you win, you get some experience points, you'll get bonus experience points depending on how well you fought. You can use these experience points to either heal yourself, get tips or level yourself up. Leveling up requires 500 points, but each time you level up, they add another 100 points, so to get to your 2nd level up you will need 600, then 700, etc. I only leveled up twice in the entire game because of the few fights in the actual game.
Ok, now to the platforming and dungeons. All dungeons are basically platforming puzzles. Each room have their own specific puzzle to them, no rooms really care puzzles over like in Zelda, so they're fairly easy to figure out. While puzzle solving is easy, platforming is NOT. With a combination of terrible controls and bad camera angles, it's about impossible to play this game without getting frustrated. If you do fall into a hole or water pit, then Jack will save you before you die. The trick is he will always take away 20 experience points from you when you fall. This is a total kick in the butt everytime.
----------Characters / Story----------
You play as Garian, a bounty hunter and you are accompanied by fellow bounty hunter and bird Jack. Garian and Jack were hired to safely take a prisoner across the sea to Jailers Prison, where all prisoners go to rot for the rest of their lives. On the way to the island, one of the prisoners turned into a giant monster, killed most of the crew and jumped ship towards Jailers Island. It's now Garian and Jacks job to track down this monster before he kills again.
The storyline had some obvious influence by some John Carpenter movies like The Thing and Escape from New York. I love that quite a bit. The game was only 5 or so hours long, but they did pack in enough storyline and characters to make the story entertaining. The localization was pretty good too, as all the background graphics, like shop signs and writing on the wall were all written in English. This is pretty rare for a game back then.
I love the graphics style. While there are a bunch of problems including framerate drops, flickering pixels and terrible camera problems, I do love the style. All characters in the game are giant 2D sprites, but the world is entirely 3D. This kinda reminds me of Paper Mario a little bit. The camera is locked, but you can change views to look around corners or to get different views. The when you're done panning around and ready to move along, the camera will revert back to it's locked state.
The music is good dark and spacey synth tunes, although it's bit repetitive. There aren't character voice overs in the game but there is a couple scenes that involve a female narrator. The sound effects are very basic.
There really isn't a world map per say, but you mostly follow a semi-linear path of connecting areas, which kinda reminds me of Vagrant Story. You'll eventually backtrack through a few areas but for the most part it's linear
----------Time to Complete Game----------
Wow this is a short game, but you can play through it multiple times. Each playthrough gives you entirely different storylines. There are up to 5 different endings that I know of.