Review by prof1515

"Another RPG Lacking Vision or Depth"

The problem with so many RPGs is that they're ROLL-playing games instead of ROLE-playing games or that they're so "story"-oriented that they're not any fun (story has to be in quotes because the pathetic excuses for a narrative that they have is disgraceful). Instead of playing a character in a fictional world, you're just fighting endless monsters to "level" or following a blocked-out path that probably doesn't make any sense but is simply how the designers set it up.

Shining in the Darkness offers both problems. First, there's really no world to explore. You either go to the town (which is a few buildings with little of interest), the castle (again, unless it concerns the plot, nothing is happening), or the Labyrinth (big, boring maze filled with monsters to kill endlessly). The story is anemic and cliched and there's no depth to the game world. Then it suffers from the "Story Myth": that somehow you have to have a story to follow in an RPG. This of course ignores the obvious fact that a story can be anything. It doesn't have to have defined hero versus villain and a pre-set plot course. Every game in a sense has a story. Honestly, if you want a real story, read a novel don't play a video game. But that aside there's no reason that a video game can't have an intriguing plot. In Shining in the Darkness, you get the usual drivel about rescuing a princess and about some great evil that must be fought, but nothing you won't find elsewhere. The only real point is to bounce between the Labyrinth and the town to fight and heal, fight and heal, and occasionally head over to the castle when the plot requires it. You can pretty much guess the ending (as well as everything leading up to it).

The graphics aren't spectacular, since for the most part they consist of a maze or a side-scrolling town or a static throne room. Animations in those screens are acceptable but like nearly every RPG, it's a missed opportunity to do something better. Music is annoying repetitive but tolerable. Replay value, like almost every RPG is negligible since there's no way to alter your course other than to just enter the ending slightly more or less powered than you were the last time. How does it stack up compared to the other trash out there? Not too bad, but it's like comparing smallpox to the bubonic plague. Compare this game to one with vision (like Pirates! Gold or Starflight) and you immediately see the difference. Like most RPGs, Shining in the Darkness fails because it's lacking in vision. If you're looking for a one-time yawn or a few brief minutes of senseless monster hacking-and-slashing, it's acceptable. But acceptable shouldn't be all a game is.

Control: 4
Game-play: 4
Graphics: 4
Sound: 6
Originality: 2
Replay Value: 4
OVERALL: 4


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 11/21/05


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