Written by Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
When I first heard about the new Dark and Light, it was implied it would be a sandbox MMO, and some even compared it to the likes of Black Desert Online. Since the announcement, it was ever so mysterious on what kind of game it would shape up to be. After a bunch of delays the game slowly changed from a sandbox MMO to a survival game with MMO elements. When the word came out about early access releasing at the end of July, I couldn’t wait to try out the game.
I did have concerns about the timing of the release. Since a few other sandbox games have launched recently, including Citadel: Forged with Fire, the timing of Dark and Light felt off, especially after the many delays and concept changes of the game, I never expected the game to come out this soon, and jumping into the game in the first weeks confirmed the fears I had. But before we talk about that, let me give you a brief introduction to the game.
Dark and Light is billed as ‘vast sandbox survival RPG’ that is also tagged as massively multiplayer on Steam. Don’t let this fool you, because when you look under the hood you’ll see that the game is played on a bunch of game servers that have a limit of only 70 players. Unfortunately this gave me flashbacks of the many small game server sandbox games we’ve seen over the last few years. Dark and Light isn’t really very different from that, since the core elements all come down to the same thing. But it still has ‘MMORPG’ type of characteristics, and this can be seen as early as character creation. When making your character you can choose between three different races: Humans, Elves, and Dwarves. The choices aren’t very unique and the races themselves do not have any bonuses as far as I know, but they do have their own story and start in different areas on the map. Speaking of the map, currently only a select area can be played. Called The Sacred Path, by the looks of it, it is only ten percent of the complete size of the map, so the future is looking a lot more interesting. As it stands right now, though, the playable area is already fairly big, at least big enough for 70 players, and I wouldn’t expect to see anyone in game with this player count if the full map were to be released. A server size increase is still uncertain up to this point, but I really hope it will be.
I myself decided to make a trusty old dwarf, and quickly found out that the customization is actually pretty big. You can do almost anything you can with your character, give him pointy ears, get him a purple color, and perhaps make him absolutely huge with absurd proportions just for the heck of it. When jumping into the game where you are just pretty much left for dead, you will quickly find out that this game could’ve been so much more. With a simple ‘tutorial’ you get the basics down, which simply comes down to the following. You have to play whack a mole with the environment, and slowly but surely you get more materials that you can then use to level up your crafting so you can eventually make better gear. Do note that if you die, you will lose all of your items. You can get these items back if you run back to your body and it hasn’t been looted by others, but you are pretty much never safe. Not even in the cities can you find the protection you seek when you want to log out after a full day of grinding. Unfortunately the game wants you to play hide and seek with others, and when you log out your body still stays in the world and can be killed and looted to anyone’s liking, even in the cities.
Logging back in the following morning, having had a 3 hour material grind the previous day, I was surprised to see my character dead when I logged into the city I fell asleep in. I quickly learned that no one was safe in the cities, not even the NPCs. The game is very much a sandbox, and the players can set their own rules. As for any beginner friendly help, you cannot expect a whole lot and are quickly taught that the world is just a cruel and deadly place. Luckily you do keep your abilities and your knowledge, so grinding back up is less of a hassle, but still some work if you had collected a good set of gear. And this is when playing whack a mole already gets annoying: from the first moment you play the game until your last, you’re probably whacking on something in the world just to get materials. Even though you do get a staff to speed the gathering up, it still gets quite tedious after a while. The game itself also doesn’t really give you any fair idea on what you’re supposed to do after the initial starter quests. This is when the resemblence of ARK: Survival Evolved comes into play, and even a game such as Rust. When it all comes down to it, the game is just another survival game that throws you into this fantasy world where you will just have to build a house and hope for the best during your play, but there isn’t actual depth to it.
The game is absolutely gorgeous, one of the better looking games I have seen in the past few years, but unfortunately it doesn’t really help the game become more fun. It runs very poorly on my very high end machine and the game in general just feels really sluggish and slow. The character depth of abilities and building your ‘class’ is very deep, the gathering and crafting reminds of an actual MMORPG, and so does the world in some way. But as it stands right now, the game is just plagued by bugs and issues that are expected from an alpha stage of the game. Even in Early Access the game in my eyes isn’t really worth it as of yet, and this can be seen in the steam reviews. After only just a day the majority of reviews are very negative, and rightly so.
The elements are in place to make Dark and Light a really solid game, but the lackluster result of what I’ve seen in the Early Access so far has shown me that this wasn’t the game I was waiting for. It looks and feels rushed, and to me it just feels like its trying to ride this sandbox hype wave trying to bring in some cash cause they might’ve ran out. If the game actually focused on becoming an actual MMORPG, I could see this potentially being one of the best MMO’s available. As it stands right now, it feels like another ‘Conan Exiles’, a game to be forgotten after a months time, and that’s a real waste of the potential it does have.