Dark Ages Review: Another Fine Role-Playing Title
Rick Charbs (Jammart), OnRPG Journalist
Dark Ages is an MMORPG published by KRU interactive, the spinoff company from Nexon that also runs Nexus TK and Shattered Galaxy. Dark Ages is the sole 2D MMORPG based on Celtic mythology. This MMORPG is a real classic; it was released over 10 years ago, on August 2nd 1999. Can you imagine? Even considering the disintegrating player base, this game still racks up an audience of about 500 or so players that are still very loyal the game. To my eyes, that is very impressive, and this review should offer you a little insight on why this game was such a hit.
Another (old) Roleplay Title!
At first glance, Dark Ages may seem like your average Korean MMORPG. The generic title does not seem to help. To start off, players can create a warrior, a priest, a monk, a rogue, or a wizard to adventure throughout the realm of Temuair and Medenia. The lands have been evoked with evil and quests must be undertaken by brave explorers to rid the lands of peril.
Boss in Dark Ages
Players can create unique looking alter-egos with various simple options, and a ton ofitems in-game to choose from. An interesting sub-path system allows players access to the abilities of two class paths, which demonstrates a little bit of strategy play involved in character customization. Dark Age's game mechanics work very differently from most MMORPGS. In fact, they are almost entirely unique.
As seen from the various special game systems Dark Ages has to offer, if is easy to come to the conclusion that this game was designed with role-players in mind (but by no means is it limited to them). Ever since the release of this game so long ago, developers of Dark Ages appointed players of the game to decide the outcome and progression of the storyline and even some game mechanics. There is an entire hierarchy in-game of politicians, leaders, and law-makers. The game's storyline is currently very elaborate, and a snippet of the original storyline can be found directly on the game's website. It was an interesting read!
In addition to letting players run the game physically, players also have the ability to change the outcome of the entire story and context of the game. The thriving community of Dark Ages has equipped this game with lore, philosophy, history, art, religion, and literature in mass quantities over the past ten years. This information proves to be very useful for new players as it provides them with a useful context to base their characters on.
Unlike almost every single MMORPG you will ever find, Dark Ages features quite a few systems that allow players to essentially run the game. The first system is the judicial hierarchy, which allows you to advance to a special status within one of three towns. You start off as a mere peasant/citizen, and are then able to move up in the political ranks to earn an even more reputable stature based on the amount of votes you receive from members of the town and other special requirements. These special ranks range from Guards who enforce town laws, to Judges who hold trials and appeal banishments and exiles, to Demagogues who write the town's laws. Members involved in politics have full control over their town. This means the Game Masters (named Rangers by KRU) only patrol for rule breakers on the outskirts of the cities. They leave all of the in-town duties to the players, which I think is an excellent concept!
Establishes Hierarchies in Town
A second system of this very same genre would be the religion system. That's right: players in Dark Ages control their own character's religion. Various temples are located throughout the game, and a clergy for each temple is assigned completely by players. Special abilities are given to high-ranked clergy members, such as holy creature summoning, holy staff crafting, the ability to initiate members into your religion, and many other perks. Naturally, players who play the priest path have the best opportunities in the clergy.
Graphics and Sound
Dark Ages takes on a 2D isometric view with a cute anime style. Based in Korea, this MMO is definitely Asian themed, however the developers of this particular version tried to opt out most of those details and keep to their Celtic setting. Thus, this version of the game is completely unique, carries its own name, and has no real ties with its foreign based counterpart. The visuals are wonderful, though they are outdated. Some continue to love these time-beautified graphics and some would love to see a revamp, similar to the graphical upgrade NexusTK (a MMORPG also published by KRU interactive) went through a few years ago.
Graphic Class for 2D MMO
Regardless, the graphical quality is still very high. The game is very vibrant and lively with colour. Dark Ages also has a very simple interface that is easy to access, located at the bottom of your screen. Furthermore, the landscapes, towns, and NPC/character models are unique and often are the inspiration to other MMORPGS out there.
The sounds are also pretty well done. I'd rate them as above average, mostly because they were repetitive. I did like the BGM though. Despite said repetition, it was really nice for a change!
Time for an Adventure in Dark Ages
Unfortunately, in order to access most of Dark Age's content, you need to p2p roughly ten American dollars per month. I believe this to be one of the reasons why the game is still up and running, and is in such good shape. The game is labelled free with restrictions though, as anyone can play until level 99 without being prompted to pay for the game. That is not even near the end game content, but it gives you a good idea on how the game is played; you will know what you would be paying for!
The community in this MMO is marvellous. I had tons of fun in-game even though I did not roleplay so much. The current players are very welcoming and kind as far as I had experienced. I recommend this MMO if you are searching for some 2D fantasy. This game is a true gem. Happy Gaming!