Of Light and Darkness: The Prophecy

Developer:  Tribal Dreams
Publisher:  Interplay
Year Released:  1998

Review by Gordon Aplin (May, 1998)
olad.jpgThe first thing that needs to be said about this game is that it will probably take you some time to learn what it is you are supposed to do and how to do it. The second thing that needs to be said is that once you have done it you will, no doubt, be asking yourself why you bothered, as I did.

If you are determined to play it, and you will need to be very determined, you must read the manual carefully and also take advantage of the 'Free Tour' aspect of the game to familiarise yourself with the game world, the interface and the objects you can use. Once you have mastered the three or four things you can do it becomes mind-numbingly repetitive. To that extent, Of Light and Darkness is not so much an adventure game as a slow-paced arcade romp with three levels to complete that become progressively more tedious rather than difficult. The slight variations at the end are insufficient to redeem it.

Millennium bug?
The premise behind the game is that an apocalyptic event is approaching as the current millennium draws to a close. This is couched in the usual pseudo-religious, mumbo-jumbo favoured by millenarians and doomsday prophets, all because of an arbitrary dating system. You are the 'chosen-one' who must prevent Gar Hob, the Dark Lord of the Seventh Millennium, from bringing about the end of the world. To do this you must descend to a surreal 'village' and redeem various characters from history who are alleged to have committed one of the, so-called, 'Seven Deadly Sins' (Pride, Gluttony, Sloth, Lust, Envy, Avarice and Anger).

"Is this a dagger I see before me ...?"
On the first level you are confronted by nine such sinners (apparitions) who appear as floating masks. Your task is to learn each apparition's sin and the particular colour and artefact associated with them. Then you must gather up the coloured orbs you find scattered about the place, steal the artefacts and lure the apparition to the room representing their sin. Once there, all you need to do is select (highlight) in your inventory the correct coloured orb or orbs and the correct artefact then press the space bar. If you have chosen wisely the apparition will be redeemed, if not you will lose the artefact and will need to get it again. Sounds easy and it is. The tricky part is learning what sin each apparition committed.

The second level is more (and I do mean more) of the same with the variation that you need to first use some of the artefacts as keys to open up 'locked' areas of the game world before you use them to redeem an apparition. The same nine sinners are back with the same sins (Hang on a minute! I've just redeemed them, how can they be back?) along with another twelve new apparitions. Each one must be redeemed in the same way as before. Twenty one redeemed apparitions later sees you ready to tackle the third level consisting of another twenty one apparitions, thirteen from the first two levels and eight new ones. A variation here is that some of the new apparitions can do such things as delete orbs and artefacts from your inventory, however, you can easily collect them again or simply restore your last saved game.

"Warning, warning ..."
If you are sensible you will save your game at every opportunity though the mechanism for saving and restoring is tedious in the extreme. Pressing 'Esc' on the keyboard whisks you back to the control booth where a robot asks you what you want to do. You then click on 'save game' and a panel opens to reveal a button which you click on, the screen pans back to the robot whilst he issues more instructions then you can choose the slot you wish to save in. Sure you can click through the robot sequences, but it shouldn't take six to eight clicks to save or restore your game. This process was made all the more annoying for me as I failed to appreciate the raucous, control booth 'music'.

Of Light and Darkness is promoted as a 'real time' adventure which will immediately set the alarm bells ringing for many adventurers. What this means, of course, is that there is a limit on how much time you have to redeem the apparitions. However, don't despair. The designers (and I love them for this) have provided a simple mechanism to gain you more time. All you need do is select a red, green and blue orb in your inventory, confront an apparition, then press the space bar to blast it back from whence it came. It will return, of course, but this at least buys you time to work on other things and the game provides a one-minute warning system to alert you when you must do this.

Don't 'click here'
The game also features the voices of James Woods as Gar Hob and Lolita Davidovich as Angel, who crop up with a snippet of conversation at intervals during the course of play. These interludes don't really advance the story beyond preparing you to meet Angel at the end of the game, nor do they contribute anything to the gameplay. I found myself clicking through them, often by accident, as they can appear just as you are about to pick up an orb and your click can cut through the sequence. No on-screen text is provided for any of this dialogue, but you can read the gist of their conversation in the manual.

So, Of Light and Darkness is not a traditional adventure game. The repetition and levels give it more of an arcade feel even though it is dressed up in a story of sorts and doesn't rely on fast reflexes. I must admit that this game and I didn't get off to a good start. The graphics at the beginning reminded me too much of Tribeca's 9 with its leering Jack-in-the-Box, gum dispensing machine, guitars and Boom Box capped off by a Rap sound track. Somehow, I'd always envisaged the end of the world as being accompanied by a stirring, Wagnerian theme, on second thought, though, Rap is probably a more appropriate indicator that the end of the world is nigh.

You can purchase this game on-line from Playing Games Interactive rating:  

Copyright © Gordon Aplin 1998. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
IBM PC or 100% compatible Pentium 90 or faster, Windows 95, 16mb RAM, 2x or Faster CD-ROM drive, Sound Blaster or 100% compatible sound card (optional), 75mb free hard drive space, 100% Microsoft Compatible Mouse, DirectX 5.0+ (included)