Chronicles of a Dark Lord is an interesting attempt to return to a golden age of gaming. Following the journey of a young man by the name of Magus Drakhen Lee this old school style RPG is a return to the old days of Mode 7 graphics and turn based combat.
The story begins with you as a god and it is so easy that it’s impossible to fail, however fairly early on in the game the difficulty begins to rise. This steep difficulty curve can be a major issue at times and leads to it being necessary to spend quite some time grinding low level monsters in order to be a high enough level to defeat the bosses that prevent you from moving on in the story.
This leads to the second issue with this game; the at-times impossibly hard bosses. Each boss is able to use a massively powerful attack that hits every member of the party and can easily wipe the party in one strike. This forces you to spend a fair bit of time trying to build your levels up, a process that can take up hours of your time spent in the game. This break from the otherwise fast paced and engaging story serves to drag you out of the immersion and can seriously damage your enjoyment of the game, especially for the sort of casual gamer that isn’t used to grinding levels for hours on end.
On the other hand the story is a deep and engaging tale that drives you on a quest across various kingdoms in the world of Cara. With surprises and twists round every corner the story keeps you hooked and intrigues you the whole way through the game though at times it can become a little bit confusing with the various political maneuverings taking place between the many kingdoms in the shadow of the over arching threat. Coupled with a purpose written score that fits perfectly with the game this game is great for immersion and one that will make you keep playing for hours on end.
The characters that you meet along the way are also very well written, each with their own small back story that adds snippets onto the main tale that just compliment the rich main quest line and further enhance the feel of a far grander scale game than what CoaDL first appears to be.
Graphically it is completely different from the vast majority of modern games, but though its unique style is not up to date with the latest graphics it is charming in its peculiarity and the Mode 7 graphics have been done far better than other games that have recently tried to revive the style. Though these graphics will look antiquated to many modern gamers, any fan of old style RPGs or JRPGs should enjoy the attention to detail that the team have put into the look of the game.
Combat in CoaDL is also very satisfying, though it is turn based it still flows well and doesn’t judder like some other turn based games. The range of magical attacks, conventional strikes, buffs and healing spells keep the combat refreshing while different element types of enemies means you can never rely on one spell for the whole game keeping things interesting and engaging while not being so hard that you can’t beat the monsters.
Unfortunately certain features such as side quests seem tacked on at the last minute and not really designed thoroughly. The side quests are very generic and consists of go here kill this or go here and get this while the item upgrade choices are extremely limited and consist of a straight up damage or armour improvement with no choices or special items which seems like a missed opportunity for a game that encompasses some solid RPG elements.
In summary Chronicles of a Dark Lord is a neat little indie game for fans of old style RPGs but it will likely not appeal to casual gamers or those that prefer a very fast paced game. But for only £4.95 it is definitely worth a look and with 20 hours plus of gameplay it will keep you occupied for quite some time with its engaging combat and charming retro graphics.