DOS - 1992
Description of Darklands
One of the very best RPGs ever produced, and definitely the BEST historical RPG ever, Darklands was unfortunately plagued with a slew of bugs when it was first released, many of which could critically damage system files. The newest version (7.0) corrects most of these bugs and makes the game what it was supposed to be, but by then a lot of people have already given up trying.... making this game the first and only RPG from Microprose.
So what makes Darklands so special? For one thing, it is arguably the most accurate historical RPG ever created - almost every facet of genuine medieval Germany is depicted in the game, from the huge map with over 90 cities, calendar system and currency... down to different weapon and armor types and their corresponding weights and effectiveness.
Mundane spellcasting in conventional RPGs is here replaced with an excellent (and, of course, authentic) alchemy interface which lets you create just about any potion you want with dozens of ingredients. Different potions require different levels of expertise - the most difficult ones may require a prayer to the applicable saint to make their manufacture feasible. You can also pray to the gods to request divine aid in sticky situations.
Darklands' character generation is one of the best I have seen in an RPG. After choosing your name and gender, you then go on to select your hereditary, which effects your stats and skills. You then pick an occupation which adds 5 years to your age and increases your skills depending on the occupation chosen. You can keep choosing more careers, but your character will start to suffer from age.
This trade-off between experience and strength strikes a great balance that requires strategic planning. The goal of your adventures is simply to become famous. The game is very non-linear: over time, different "quests" will be spawned. Different personages will ask you go to various places and perform various favors for them. The rewards for these quests are usually financial, but often serve to improve your party's fame as well.
Some of the quests that you might undertake are: kill a raubritter (German robber baron), kill a dragon, stop the problems with "knockers" in the mines, and drive out witches. You might be asked to retrieve relics, or retrieve stolen papers.
Eventually, you will probably take on the Templar knights, and their demon lord, Baphomet. Each time you complete one of these tasks, you will gain more "fame," which is quantified with a number. A very successful party could expect a fame in the high hundreds.
In a controversial move, Darklands has no "ending" per se - after you vanquish Baphomet, you will be treated to a small victory screen, and be given the option to keep on playing. Which really shouldn't bother anyone, as the game contains so many optional subquests that you are likely to miss quite a few along the way.
If I can't convince you to play this one, perhaps this will: Darklands has never left my hard drive since I first installed it in 1992. If you're looking for a great but overlooked RPG that will provide dozens, if not hundreds, hours of enjoyment and educational value besides, this is a must-have.
Review By HOTUD
Captures and Snapshots
Comments and reviews
Prince Vakar 2017-09-15 0 point
I think it's the best RPG I ever played, but it was plagued with bugs and I eventually had to give up, despite desperately tweaking expanded memory and everything else - nice to see it's possible to play without the bugs and crashes
JAY DEE 2015-05-03 1 point DOS version
i think this is version 4,remember to patch to version 6 or 7.you can get many old patches at "patches scrolls".this dl comes with a save file editor aswell, DLED.EXE
Jake 2014-12-30 10 points DOS version
Without a doubt agree with the review of this game. Truly one of the best, if not THE best CRPGs ever made (and I've played almost all of them.) I probably spent more time on this game then SSI's 'Gold box' set combined (and I played them enough to beat them all!) Two things I'd like to add, first kind of a correction when the review says "accurate historical RPG" it means accurately follows the mythos/ beliefs of the time, dragons, demons, witches etc, but in a manner more to the beliefs of medieval Germany then what we are familiar with in modern "Fantasy." Second thing I'd like to add is the battle system was light-years ahead of it's time, RTS you could pause to issue orders, similar to Balders Gate only 5 years earlier, and your characters do have their own AI if you do not issue commands to them.
One thing though, if you can't play without eye-candy, don't waste your time, the graphics are really bad, even for 92.
OlTimer 2014-10-07 1 point DOS version
Spent months playing this game. Felt like was a part of this world. Almost forgot to go to school, eat, drink :) Never came across anything like it........ :(
Knoxfox 2014-01-08 2 points DOS version
The first time I ever stayed up all night playing a game was with this game. Maybe the only time I ever played a game 15 hours straight. Loved playing this game.
Gretel Hansdottir 2013-12-08 0 point DOS version
I LOVED this game when it came out. LOVED IT!!!!!!!!! Definitely the best RPG I have played. Only Skyrim is currently coming close to the immersive feel of the game.
SXZ 2013-10-01 0 point DOS version
One of the best RPGs I've ever played. You can run Darklands on DOSBox with only minor problems. If you're having trouble skipping the opening animation, you can run the game with no animations. Just access Darklands folder on DOSBox and run the game with the following command: "darklands.exe /q".
There is also a save game editor ("dled.exe", also compatible with DOSBox), in case you find the difficulty of the game too punishing.
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