Friday, March 7, 2008

Dark Mist + Expansion - Japanese Impressions

After several weeks of whining about not having a US release of Game Republic's (Folklore, Genji) fantasy twin stick shooter "Dark Mist", I finally plunked down for another PSN ticket and nabbed it, along with the "Depths of Darkness" expansion pack. So far, this is looking like one of the best games on PSN.

Dark Mist plays like the bastard stepchild of an SNES Zelda game, and Neo Contra. You control Artemis (or one of several other characters if you have the expansion) as she traverses small top down view dungeons, one room at a time, occasionally branching off to different paths to grab keys or eliminate room guardians so you can complete labyrinths of increasing complexity. Each labyrinth has a guardian miniboss, and every 5 or so maps you fight a real boss. I have fought a single boss thus far, which had varying attack patterns at different levels of health. Quite engaging, and i hope theres more where that came from.

You can play the game like Neo Contra with "hold direction / position" buttons, or opt to use twin stick shooter type controls. I found it more comfortable to do the latter. Shaking the controller does a melee attack which is mostly used for dispersing the "dark mist" that has spread throughout the dungeon.

The mist, as the games title suggests, plays a large role in the game, making it difficult to see enemies and shots, seemingly lowering your weapons effectiveness, and hiding items and special mist clearing orbs which give you bonuses if you find them really fast. Mist seems to spread if you don't clear it completely, so it can come back to haunt you if you leave some alone for too long and a second set of monsters pops out.

Each character has 3 special attacks that you can level up by collecting powerups dropped by monsters and mist clearing orbs. Collecting one "level" of powerups gives you more consecutive shots of your special weapons. Recharge time is several seconds per shot. You only gain "experience" for the currently equipped special, and you can rotate them at any time. You can take multiple hits, and it seems you get an extra one after the 1st boss. When you die you get a chance to continue or quit, continuing resets your score. You can also pick up where you left off when you quit.

The main game is used to unlock levels for use in time attack, and eventually hard mode will become available, along with other options.

There are some online modes including a battle royale for up to 4(5?) players it seems, but there were no rooms available when i tried to go on for some reason (still looking into that). There are also mode specific leaderboards.

Overall I really enjoyed the few hours I spent with the game and look forward to many more. Can't recommend it enough, and for those like me too impatient to wait for the US release, there is next to no Japanese language in the game outside of options and instructions, so don't be afraid to check it out.

Where to buy:

1000 yen Japanese PSN Ticket
3000 Yen Japanese PSN Ticket
5000 yen Japanese PSN Ticket


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