Only heard about this game in the odd magazines over the years and this is one of those games that you don't hear much about very often. Heart of Darkness was directed by the same mastermind Eric Chahi who created Another World, I've played some bizarre games over my time and this has to be one of the most unique games I've come across for its story, gameplay, presentation to make this game stand out a lot similar to other titles like the original Prince of Persia or the Oddworld series.
What hasn't aged well since it was first released in 1998 is the CGI animation especially the opening first making it feel like one of those sci-fi movie openings and then lands into a school follows the story of a child called Andy who keeps falling asleep in class and hates his abusive teacher but it seems that Andy is afraid of one thing which is a fear of darkness. But Andy only cares about one thing in the world which is his best friend Whisky but one day during a solar eclipse Whisky gets taken away during the eclipse by an unknown creature; so Andy goes out on a quest to another world in his spaceship and rescuing his dog Whisky.
And just after 6 minutes of watching the opening you can easily die that quickly for a 2D platformer you would think that it would a simple game but nope you can get eaten by shadows or easily fall off cliff if you don't time yourself when it comes to double-jumping when trying to dodge shadow attacks or flames. Along with basic movement using the D-pad on your controller, such as running, jumping, and climbing, certain sections of the game give Andy additional abilities. Plasma cannon allows Andy to shoot lightning at shadows in order to disintegrate them by tapping or holding down circle. Magic energy, which can also be used offensively against enemies, can additionally be used to grow and destroy trees born from seeds by either tapping circle or by holding circle and then pressing square to fire a more powerful energy beam shot. But most of the game can lead to frustration as you later progress but it's more about trail-and-error on gameplay on either difficulty from the hardest setting to the easiest setting.
For a 2D platformer the graphics and visuals still hold up today during its gameplay most of the places you travel really do look impressive to look at. The 3D effects used for its environments make a great impact and some obstacles and platforms you can climb up or down, swing or swim. Even the death moments are great to look at when you see Andy getting eaten to shreds or burned into toast leaving a shoe or getting swallowed by a plant. The CGI animation scenes which I've mentioned above does make a great little animated movie, what also made this game perfect is the soundtrack its music done by Bruce Brougham who has done a ton of music for various films. Not only it was the first game to have a live composed soundtrack it was also one of the first games to have 3D effects for a PlayStation but the glasses were only used for the finale and not the entire game, would have been a nice idea but back then the only 3D glasses you had were the cheap red and blue 3D glasses.
With being on two discs it does feel like a short game to play depending on what difficulty you plan on playing Heart of Darkness clearing the game can take you at least 7 hours or more. Clearing the game on the hardest difficulty is a challenge to any gamer who wants a good challenge, but the overall game itself is worth a play-through if you can get past the frustrating moments during gameplay. It might not be the best 2D platformer around that time for a PlayStation title it still holds up today on one of the most strangest games you'll come across or likely have never heard of this title until now.