It’s been ages since we’ve seen a new Dark Crystal game, with the last one surfacing sometime in the 80’s, back when it was cool to play games on an Apple II. (Anyone remember the BRUN command?) But now, Bonus XP and En Masse Entertainment have produced a new entry based on the Netflix series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. And while it does have its moments where the magic is lacking, this Tactics spin-off should have no trouble winning fans over.
The game does a good job at following some of the storylines from the series, for those of you that got to see that brilliant piece of work. And as it goes on, it does build up the challenge, along with tactics that are available for each of your hero characters. The main campaign mode goes for a while, which is a good thing considering there aren’t any other options to jump into. Not even an “instant action” mode where you can guide the Skeksis to glory. Dang.
You’ll begin with Rian and Mira as you get a hang of the game. But as you go on, you’ll be able to build an enormous party, created with characters that have different “jobs.” No, not like fry cook jobs, but rather jobs with various strategies that can make winning and losing matter. They change quite a bit, with some specializing in ranged attacks, and others being able to do things much differently. How you form your party is completely up to you.
Movesets expand as time goes on, really letting you damage the Skeksis and the other enemies you’ll come across. These include expanding range, power and other categories. Those that stick with it will be promptly rewarded as their characters level up. While it’s not the most innovative system out there, it sticks the landing when it comes to nailing the idea of how tactics are supposed to work.
You can also level up with better equipment, including weapons and armor, and shows just where it can be classified best. Some might think it’s a bit complicated, but Bonus XP rounds things out pretty evenly. So worry not, young players.
While the gameplay can be “samey” when it comes to some battles, the developer did a great job including some of the storylines within the campaign. These include some awesome boss battles and getting past objects that are instantly recognizable. I won’t spoil surprises here, but fans of Age of Resistance will like what they find.
As for the presentation, it looks good, with an isometric style to the visuals so you can see everything on the field with real-time depth. The animations are simple yet effective; and the environments really pop to life. Alas, no cut scenes from the show. For that matter, there’s also no voice acting, which is a bit of a bummer considering that this is essentially a Netflix property. The music is great, but, really, we would’ve liked to have heard more from these characters, even with secondary voice actors filling in for the Age of Resistance stars.
Tactics does offer three difficulty settings in case you feel like having a go at a higher level. But, aside from that, once it’s done, there’s not much else to dive into. Like I said, I think a mode where you could take on varied Skeksis — or even play as them — would’ve made this game go a long way. As it stands, it has its appeal, but, like the series itself, it eventually runs out of new stuff.
But I digress. The first new Dark Crystal game in several years may not be as enchanting as the series, although it definitely has merit. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics features good gameplay with enough items to level up, as well as pretty good visuals and varied options when it comes to selecting heroes in your party. While some lacking stuff may throw some players off, there’s enough here to get engaged in the world of Thra — especially if you’re a fan.