Dark Raider almost saves the world

Posted: April 30, 2009 in Action, Platformer

Dark Raider is one of those games that is both entertaining and frustrating at the same time. The depth and the nonlinear gameplay make this an ideal free moving game that many of us are looking for. However, what the game needs is better and more accurate controls to make Dark Raider really a top notch game.

At its core, I can’t state this more clearly that Dark Raider is a fun game. You have full 360 degree movement, and full control in choosing which worlds to explore at your leisure. The game offers 8 worlds each with 8 levels giving you a total of 64 levels. Each of these worlds has different themes including Ancient Egypt, the Dark Ages, and Greek and Roman mythology. Under options, Dark Raider offers a nice set of customizable features including a choice of camera angles: fixed and accelerometer, and left-and right-handed controls (the screen autoflips so your headphones don’t get in the way). The one thing I would recommend is using the fixed camera angle which will provide you with the virtual joystick. Using the accelerometer controls will provide you separate up and down buttons. I find accelerometer controls to be disorienting and difficult to control. Under both control schemes, you have two buttons: Action Button and below it the Fire Button.

Another a nice touch is Extras. This provides a useful guide of the different items you encounter during the game. As for scoring, the game automatically keeps a running count of your score no matter how many times you have to start over which may not be a good thing for everyone.

In general, the presentation is done very well, almost minimalist in nature and not cluttered. Weapons that you acquire appear at the bottom of the screen with the pistol as the default. Other weapons in the game include flamethrower, shotguns, rocket launcher, grenades, fireballs and ninja blades. Your health and score are located at the top right-hand corner. The soundtrack used in Dark Raider sounds likes it comes through in surround stereo and is as menacing as can be. During the game, a number appears that shows the strength of each weapon, and they do lose potency at which point you revert back to your pistol unless you select another weapon.

The objective is to find the key and then make it to the exit. When you first enter the game, you have various options which are presented to you as sign posts. When a sign post can be read, your Action button will turn on. Usually these sign posts tell you the name of the world you’re entering or provide a warning on what to expect. It’s a creative way of introducing pop ups. Other things that you can read include tombstones and scrolls, and you can always go back and re-read if necessary. There are two types of keys: gold and soul keys which unlock the Gold and Soul Locks. Of course, there are various treasures to be acquired such as chalices, rings and gems.

As you travel through the environments, you will see numerous interactive objects including switches to open gates, lighting torches, and moving stones, which are identified in the Action Button I mentioned. One of the things that you’ll notice is that there are certain paths where you can only travel in specific direction, which are illustrated by green arrows. You’ll face a number of enemies including beetles, tarantulas, and flying reptiles as well as fireballs and blades. In addition, there are puzzles requiring the movement of specific blocks and provides an additional challenge to the game.

I can’t emphasize enough that Dark Raider is a well thought out game, but the one area that the game could use some tweaking is the controls (not to mention the icon). There is a certain learning curve to using them, and even then, the game can be frustrating in terms of accuracy. Often, because of the controls, I find my character getting slaughtered because he can’t accurately shoot or move where I want him to. A control pad similar to that found in 7Days Apocalypse or iDracula would significantly improve this.

To sum up, Dark Raider is great, and besides the occasional control issues, the game offers a significant amount of depth and gameplay. I think if you’re a hardcore gamer, you’ll find Dark Raider a strong choice.

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